Yet evidence is building that people are consuming far more natural resources than what the planet could sustainably provide, he said.
Minister Jarju was speaking in his office on the eve of World Environment Day, which is annually celebrated on 5 June.
He noted that many of the earth’s ecosystems are nearing critical tipping points of depletion or irreversible change, occasioned by high population growth and economic development.
By 2050, he said, if current consumption and production patterns remain the same and with a rising population expected to reach 9.6 billion, we would need three planets to sustain our ways of living and consumption.
The environment Minister, therefore, said there was need to consume with care and sustainably.
“Consuming with care means living within planetary boundaries to ensure a healthy future where our dreams can be realized,” Mr Jarju said.
Human prosperity need not cost the earth. Living sustainably is about doing more and better with less, he said.
It was about knowing that the rising rates of natural resource use and the environmental impacts that occur are not a necessary by-product of economic growth, Minister Jarju pointed out.
The theme for this year’s celebration is: “Seven Billion Dreams, One Planet. Consume with Care,” as the day has been identified in the Environment Calendar as World Environment Day.
He added that the day is the United Nations’ principal vehicle for encouraging worldwide awareness and action on the environment.
Over the years, he continued, it has grown to be a broad and global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated by stakeholders in over 100 countries, including The Gambia.
The Gambia, which was no exception, would continue to celebrate this day with the main objective of fostering attitudinal change towards safeguarding the environment, he added.
The Gambia as a nation is fully aware of the future threats that are likely to result from unsustainable use of our environment, and our environment, which is key and an influential medium for the activities of all living creatures, needs to be safeguarded without compromise, Minister Jarju went on.
Furthermore, he said, the Gambia government, under President Yahya Jammeh has shown great commitment towards the environment and would not relent in this crusade.
This has led to the development of the Gambia Environment Action Plan (GEAP), the implementation of which is coordinated by the National Environment Agency.
The GEAP, he said, gives high consideration to natural resources management, which aimed at assisting and encouraging producers to adopt improved land and natural resource management practices.
The day also serves as the ‘people’s day’ for doing something positive for the environment, galvanizing individual actions into a collective power that generates an exponential positive impact on the planet, he further stated.
“You will agree with me that our natural resources are of great importance to our lives. However, due to our activities, we are degrading our natural resource capital at an alarming rate,” he said.
“Indeed, we are now at a critical stage in our national development as we forge ahead to implement a programme of sustainable growth aimed at improving the basic living standards of the majority of the population, while protecting the environment.”
“In this process, we must take into account the need to conserve and promote the rational use of the nation’s natural resources.To do this we need to continue to improve our capacities to manage the environment, use alternative resources and better resource management plans”.
The Environment Minister revealed that most of the world’s natural resources such as water, air, coal, oil, natural gas, minerals, soil, forest and timber, wetlands, coasts, etc, have been negatively impacted due to human activities.
He noted that our forest cover is being lost at a fast rate, some indigenous species have become extinct due to the inability to adapt to the current situation of the environment; and land degradation, water and air pollution, loss of biodiversity and climate change are all environmental issues that are of great concern.
In 2014, he said, the day received a total of 6437 pledges and over 3000 activities were registered online, which tripled corresponding figures for the previous two years.
This, he said, was encouraging and has shown that people, governments, stakeholders are becoming more proactive towards the environment.
It was, therefore, clear that we have been and are still battling with the impacts of unsustainable management of the environment such as sea level rise, increase in temperature, decrease in rainfall, decrease in ground water level and spontaneous flooding, he stated.
The Environment Minister reiterated that it requires collaboration and support from all of us as individuals, sectors and businesses to ensure that we consume with care, so as to realize our collective “seven billion dreams.”