Today is World Environment Day

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 05 June 2020:

Forty-six years ago, the United Nations (UN) dedicated 5th of June as World Environment Day – a day for people and governments across the Globe to raise awareness and take local action to promote, protect and preserve the environment.

Writing in the Ghana Daily Mail, Mr Prosper Kwame Antwi – a prominent conservationist and biodiversity expert, calls on governments and people of the world in general, and Ghana in particular, to harness and utilise natural resources in a sustainable manner that puts the environment at the heart of decisions and actions. “Let us work hard to save our environment – the  planet”, he writes.

This is what Mr Prosper Kwame Antwi said in the Ghana Daily Mail to mark 46 years of the UN World Environment Day:

The theme for World Environment Day which falls on Friday June 5, 2020 is “Biodiversity – the essential variety of life forms on Earth”. Globally, the celebration is touted as “It’s time for Nature” – wherein there is a call to action to combat the accelerating species loss and degradation of the natural world.

There is no denying the fact that biodiversity continues to decline in every region of the world, significantly reducing nature’s capacity to contribute to people’s well-being. This alarming trend endangers economies, livelihoods, food security and the quality of life of people everywhere, according to four landmark science reports written by more than 550 leading experts from over 100 countries “(Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services 2019)”.

It will take the entire global community to counter biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation. The collective actions by sovereign states are therefore fundamental in achieving the global goal. The question however remains; in Ghana, is the time really for nature?

To address the broad level question, there is the need to answer some specific questions as a country:

  1. Do we put nature at the heart of all our decision-making?
  2. Do we live well in harmony with nature?
  3. Are we all involved in conservation and protection of nature?

As a country, if the food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the climate that makes our planet habitable all come from nature, then it is really time to reimagine our relationship with nature.

All Ghanaians (individuals, businesses, groups, government etc.) need to prioritize our actions, learn from one another and share common lessons to heed nature’s call for harmonious human-nature relationship that creates a win-win situation.

In Ghana like most other tropical countries, different unprecedented land-use changes (deforestation, galamsey), over-exploitation of plants and animals (logging, hunting), climate emergency (flooding, drought, warming seas), pollution (chemical and micro-plastics) and invasive alien species (parasites and competitors) are critical drivers of biodiversity loss.

All Ghanaians must arise to act, learn and share good practices that can reverse the trends of biodiversity loss by reimagining our relationship with nature and acting now to increase our ambition and accountability for its protection.

We must conserve and restore critical wildlife and wild spaces, change the way we produce and consume food, promote environmentally friendly cities, business and transform our economy to become custodians of nature.

Importantly, from the least of persons to the greatest of persons, we must all act now- by ensuring that, all our decision-making as a country has sustainable nature consideration, that we are all living in harmony with nature through changing what we consume and changing how we produce what we consume, as we get involved at all levels either individually and/or in groups.

As individuals in sovereign Ghana, we must rethink what we buy and use and become conscious consumers. As faith groups and/or leaders, we must inspire worshippers to live in harmony with the earth and seek green jobs.

As private sector, we must ecologize our economy by incorporating bold, sustainable practices in production, supply chains and financing.

Our schools and teachers also have a critical role to play in nurturing young people’s affinity for nature and building curricula that underscore the value of biodiversity and interest in future green job opportunities.

Young people in sovereign Ghana are the future of our beloved country, and the decisions made now will determine the kind of country they will inherit. Accordingly, young people must make their voices heard with real impact.

The Government of Ghana has a central role in changing our current destructive course towards one of greater custodianship for the natural world by protecting and safeguarding wild spaces with ambition and accountability.

There should be strong and committed environmental policy that is key to ending biodiversity loss and preserving nature for human wellbeing.

If not for anything, we must understand that biodiversity is necessary for a range of human rights, including the rights to life, health, food, water and culture. In order to protect our human rights as a country, the Government of Ghana have an obligation to protect ecosystems and biodiversity.

Surely, it is time for sovereign Ghana to wake up, to take notice, to raise her voice and to build a sustainable society where people are caring for nature as they care for themselves.

Arise oh ye Ghanaians and heed the call from nature – we must all learn, share and act on the things we need to change for our common good.

Happy World Environment Day!!!

About the author: Prosper Kwame Antwi is a Conservation Scientist, A Rocha Ghana.


1 Comment

  1. If you ask me to rate the performance of the ministry of agriculture and forestry in Sierra Leone – 1 out of 10. I won’t even draw my breath, I will give you the most honest answer. I will mark the ministry down as the most inefficient, and waste of public money. This government ministry, and the so-called Sierra Leone environment agency, should be scrap and reconstituted from scratch. At the moment those responsible for protecting our environment, are turning a blind eye or playing deaf with their fingers stuck in their ears, and with an attitude that says – its not my problem, its someone else, on the wanton destruction of our environment by unscrupulous timber trader.

    While the Ethiopian government is encouraging their citizens to plant a tree, we are cutting our trees, and shipping them to China. This practice needs to stop or regulated. We need to change the culture of their working practices. Starting from the Hon. Minister. In August 2017 Sierra Leone experienced mudslides in hill sides of Regent area of Freetown. On that day we lost three hundred of our fellow citizens. Perhaps the single loss of human life in one day in the history of our country. Those poor souls pay the ultimate prize not out of their own making, but the greed and the unregulated timber trade that are damaging our country’s landscapes. You just have to travel from Freetown to Kailahun in the South or to Falaba the in the North for you to understand the full extent of the destruction of our rain forest.

    There is even talk of Guinean nationals, crossing the boarder in the north and cutting down trees, and taking them back to their own country. The irony is not lost on me, whilst they want to preserve their forest. Our own border guards are complicit and helping facilitating this illicit timber trade. You just have to stand at Mount oriel, and survey the city of Freetown and see the environmental damaged that is taking place. This problem started many years back. It should not be reduced to party political point scoring. Because those floods that engulfed the Freetown peninsula, in 2017, never ask the victims which tribe or political party they support. It is high time this government put the brakes on this environmental damages we are witnessing now.

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