Most people would say no at first. And that answer can be attributed to the fact that most Zambians are ignorant, either about the MDGs or about our natural resources, and how useful they are to our daily lives.
Each and every day, a product from nature is used, e.g. clean air, tissue paper, water, and other nature-derived materials that sustain our stay on this planet.
It would, therefore, help to take just a minute and think about just how miserable life would be if the natural world around us was to become vestigial due to our misuse of it.
To begin with, let's make things simpler for others by defining the word biodiversity.
According to the concise oxford English dictionary, the word biodiversity means the variety of plant and animal life in the world or in a particular habitat, in this case Zambia.
You could think of animals like lions, elephants, and other animals Zambia boasts of. Included in the definition are plants, from which we benefit the most.
Most dominant species of trees in Zambia are miombos, brachystegia, mopane, Baikiaea, colophospermum, angolensis and other indigenous tree species.
Biodiversity has been defined, what remains to be cleared is Zambia's MDGs. MDGs is a short form for Millennium Development Goals. Most developing countries, including Zambia, have set goals to reach at a specified period of time. In Zambia, currently there are eight MDGs.
Goal 1 - Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Goal 2 - Achieve universal primary education
Goal 3 - Promote gender equality and empower women
Goal 4 - Reduce child mortality
Goal 5 - Improve maternal health
Goal 6 - Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
Goal 7 - Ensure environmental sustainability
Goal 8 - Develop a global partnership for development.
Looking at this list, one might wonder, how is achieving these goals have to do with our natural resources? Let's find out.
When you look at MDG number one what comes to mind? In Zambia you would say to achieve it more maize needs to be grown. This could help.
According to some statistics, approximately 800 million people go hungry each day, worldwide. How can extreme poverty and hunger in Zambia be eradicated? It can be curbed by growing enough food for our local market, and then if there is any surplus it can be exported.
Most of us enjoy meat and meat products. Animals are very important to us because most essential amino acids come from animals.
Without these amino acids most proteins would not be made. Plants just supplement on the nutrients we get from animals. On the other hand we should not only grow maize, but also other types of crops, fruits and vegetables.
Farming should be done sustainably, by using soil friendly techniques to control soil fertility and pests.
Therefore to grow a crop to feed the nation requires using our precious resource- land, and plants.
I think by now dear reader you are able to connect MDGs to the sustainable use of our natural resources.
Not much can be said about MDG number two. But it sure is connected to biodiversity use. Most school materials are nature derived as well, talk of books, desks, boards, pencils etc. what would you use in class if nature was absent?
Now you must be saying, hey! Tell us how about gender equality? Let us take a leaf from nature- parental care. Most of us are familiar with storks.
These are quite large birds. When it comes to raising their chicks, the male birds also help out when the female is hunting.
This entails that some things can be shared or done by both sexes, which is the case with most jobs; responsibilities and other things which are not considered sex roles.
We move to MDG number 4. Due to the nature of the 4th, 5th and 6th MDG, they will be discussed as one. They are all health related.
Only medicines can be used to curb child mortality, improve maternal health and combat HIV/ AIDS. Where do we get medicines from? Rocks, in the air, albeit not! Let us look at just how dependent we are on plants when it comes to our health.
About 60 per cent of the world's population relies on plants for medicine. And 80 per cent of people in developing country, including our beloved Zambia, rely on tradition medicines.
At this juncture, don't you think it's worthwhile to sit back and deeply think about how best to help save our planets biodiversity?
All the medicines we need to cure most infections are there at our disposal- in nature. Without it most of us would have died of a simple malady- a cough.
Number seven, ensure environmental sustainability. What is a sustainable environment? Do you think a polluted, defiled environment can be called sustainable? What then can we, as a country, do to ensure that our environment is sustainable?
This MDG is about what we can do for our environment in order for it to sustain us. Without a sustainable environment, there can be no food, medicine, supplies for our daily use and other important services we get from the environment.
Let us unite in protecting our environment from pollution and other practices that ruin it. Let us talk about it as much as we talk about soccer and other topics.
How can we use our natural resources to develop a global partnership for development?
Watch out for this space. This MDG requires the acquisition of substantial information from relevant sources.
For now let us all critically think about what we are doing to help our environment help us. If we are doing nothing, it's not too late.
They say knowledge is power, and wisdom is the correct application of knowledge. Let us be wise by applying this knowledge."
(The author is a fourth year student at the Copperbelt University in the school of natural resources pursuing a bachelor of science degree in wildlife management).