THE Okyenhene, His Royal Majesty Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin, will on September 24, 2023 leave Ghana for the United States of America where he will deliver speeches to faculty members and students of two universities in Boston, Massachusetts.
The Northeastern University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute have invited the Okyenhene on the back of the immense leadership role he plays in “saving our world” through the environment.
An invitation letter signed by the Senior Vice Provost for Research of the Northeastern University, David Luzzi, said: “Your commitment to addressing Climate Change and to advancing environmental sciences and sustainability aligns very well with the priorities of the University. We would be very pleased if you could visit our Boston campus, meet with students and faculty.”
“Your commitment to addressing climate change and to advancing environmental sciences and sustainability aligns very well with the priorities of our university”, an invitation letter signed by the Senior Vice President and Provos of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Dr Winston “Wole” Soboyejo, also stated.
Role of traditional leaders
As the Heads of States and Government gather at the UN Headquarters in New York from September 18 to 19, 2023 to review the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals and follow it up with “The Climate Ambition Summit”, the Okyenhene’s visit and speech will mark a significant moment in the ongoing global efforts to combat climate change.
It will also offer a fresh perspective on the role of traditional leadership in environmental conservation.
Leading by example as an environmental champion, Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin has been making bold statements on the need to preserve nature and protect our forests and water bodies.
Traditional leaders have played a vital role in African societies for centuries, guiding their communities in matters ranging from governance to resource management. The Okyenhene's decision to engage the university community on climate change reflects a growing recognition of the importance of traditional leaders in addressing modern challenges.
During his address, the Okyenhene is expected to emphasise the interconnectedness of humans and the environment, drawing on His people's historical reverence for nature.
He will also speak on how the Akyem Abuakwa Kingdom has long understood the need for a harmonious relationship with the land, recognising that the earth's health directly affects the well-being of its inhabitants.
Sharing his view on why the Okyenhene chose climate change as a topic of concern, the Chief of Staff of the Ofori Panin Fie, Nana Twumasi Ankrah, said: “Osagyefuo has read the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2023 Synthesis Report released in March which passed a damning verdict on the nexus between human activities and climate change”.
“He was particularly alarmed when the report concluded that ‘the planet is heating up’ and “And as a leader he cannot sit unconcerned.”
Mr Ankrah said one of the key takeaways from the Okyenhene's speech will be the importance of local initiatives in combating climate change.
“While international agreements and global policies are undoubtedly crucial, there is huge significance of grassroots efforts,” he said.
He indicated that the Okyenhene would also talk about the several local initiatives in His traditional area that serve as models for sustainable living, including developing an Eco- Park and vegetating a vast tract of barren land at Banso in the Atewa West District of the Eastern region.
“Akyem Abuakwa has been actively involved in reforestation efforts, recognizing that healthy forests are essential for mitigating climate change.
“By planting indigenous trees and protecting existing forests, the community is making a valuable contribution to carbon sequestration,” he said.
Call for action
In his closing remarks, the Chief of Staff said His Royal Majesty is expected to issue a powerful call to action to the university community and the wider society.
“He will urge individuals, institutions and governments to take responsibility for their environmental impact and to work together to address climate change.
He will also emphasise the importance of collaboration as no one entity or group can tackle this global challenge alone,” he said.
Mr Ankrah added that the Okyenhene’s is also expected to serve as a reminder that leadership in the fight against climate change can come from unexpected places, in small ways.
“This momentous address will ignite a spark of hope, reminding us that even in the face of daunting challenges, positive change is possible when we unite for a common cause.
The Okyenhene will be accompanied on his travel by the Akyem Abuakwa State Secretary, his Chief of Staff, some government officials, legal practitioners and some businessmen.
He will return to Ghana later in October