The relationship between economic development and the environment only gained importance after the publication of the Club of Rome Report in 1972. Nevertheless, it was only in 1987 after the publication of the report entitled; “Our Common Future,” by the World Commission on Environment and Development commonly known as the Brundtlnd Commission that the nexus between environment and economic development gained prominence in the donor community.
Honestly, before the publication of the Our Futures Report that, the relationship between the environment and economic development became an aid conditionality by development partners. According to that report, any development effort that did not take into consideration the environment was unsustainable. Consequently, environmental impact assessment reports have been treated as aid inflow conditionality by the international community.
Due to positive contribution from the Common Future Report, the international community went further to establish the “Global Environmental Facility “(GEF) in 1991. Later, the United Nations hosted the “Conference on Environment and Development” (UNCED) popularly known as the Rio Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992. It was at that conference that “Agenda 21”; a comprehensive, long term action plan for the environment was adopted by member states. It is not known if African member states were invited to attend the Rio de Janeiro Summit.
These initiatives prove that all development projects have to include environmental impact assessment reports. Without complying with this requirement, any development project fails to meet sustainability objectives. Truthfully, Agenda 21 has since then effectively governed all environment-related development assistance initiatives. This might explain the intransigence demonstrated by the Mozambican government.
Major donors excluding the United States of America have aggressively pursued environmental issues when providing economic support to development projects. Why has the international community introduced new rules to the same game? Water is an important issue for development. Without water nothing can survive. The problem of too much water has been floods which have overshadowed the problem of too little water.
Consequently, aid agencies including donors have supported projects related to water. This has resulted in the achievement of significant results. Therefore it must be appreciated that the preparation of environmental impact assessment reports alongside development project is not a choice but an imperative. In fact Jesus Christ although lived on earth 2000 years ago, already warns us the importance of planning in Christianity. Jesus used the example of a builder who needed to plan before embarking on the actual construction of the house. The reality is that development and environmental issues are systematically intertwined by donors.
This article reminds us of the action taken by Mozambican on the progress of the Zambezi-Shire Waterway. Considering the imperatives of the stipulated nexus, it is clear that the Mozambican government understands implications of Agenda 21 in the international community. Any development initiative that fails to include environmental impact assessments is considered unsustainable.