Kofi Adu Domfeh
Anita Plummer, a Professor at the International Affairs Centre of Spelman College in the US has stated that “our environment where we live, where we work, play, pray and study – is our responsibility and what we do today is not only impacting our future – it is impacting the here and now.”
New environmental challenges starring in the face of Ghana include climate change, sanitation and waste management, chemical use and misuse, illegal mining and the impacts of oil discovery and electronic waste.
Climate change, most especially, has the potential to slow down economic growth, make poverty reduction more difficult, further erode food security, prolong and create new poverty traps.
In 2013, Ghana’s government approved two policies to improve the management of the nation’s environment – the “Ghana Environment Policy” and the “National Climate Change Policy for Ghana”, expected to be launched later in the year.
Both documents seek to address challenges in effectively managing the environmental concerns. The new environment policy, for instance, hinges on integrated and holistic environmental management practices and processes over the next ten years, whilst the second policy clearly outlines the effects of climate change in Ghana.
Effective policy implementation however requires adequate public participation in environmental governance, to ensure government commits to promote environmental management and enforce people’s environmental rights.
The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) is a continental coalition of Civil Society Organizations with a common goal of promoting and advocating for pro-poor, climate-friendly and equity-based responses to climate change.
The Ghana Climate Change Coalition (GCCC) has been launched as the local chapter of PACJA to promote the agenda of climate justice and sustainable development.
Environment experts at the launch of the GCCC reiterated the need for government to come up with pragmatic policies and measures to mitigate the rising temperature in the country.
They observed the increased temperature has reduced farm yields in the ecological zones and forced herdsmen to migrate with their cattle to other places.
Professor Chris Gordon, the Director of the Environment and Sanitation Studies at the University of Ghana, Legon, noted that studies conducted, using historical data between 1960 and 2000, show that all the agro-ecological zones in Ghana are getting warmer and drying up.
The GCCC therefore has set itself the goal to be an effective Ghanaian CSO’s platform to share information, strategize jointly, coordinate engagement with key stakeholders and jointly advocate for environmental sustainability in development of programs and initiatives.
Acting Coordinator of PACJA-Ghana, MacDonald Bubuama, has urged the government to strictly enforce its policy measures, including prosecution, and radical approach in combating the menace of environmental degradation.
He said the fight for climate justice requires the dedicated collaborative efforts of all key players including local communities, national government, the private sector and CSO’s.
It is expected the Coalition will live up to its vision of promoting a national environmental free from climate change and sustainable development, equity and justice for all persons.