Mon, 20 May 2024 Feature Article

Progressive Alliance for Ghana(PAG) Policy Brief on the Environment

Progressive Alliance for Ghana(PAG) Policy Brief on the Environment

Fellow Citizens:
We have been mining Gold in our Land since about 6 AD, during which period of time we have managed to preserve the environment, and benefit at the same time from the value that Gold offers to the economy and the livelihoods of our citizens.

In the last three or four decades, we have succeeded, through unregulated, artisanal, and small-scale mining, in destroying the environment in almost half of the landmass of our country.

Governments controlled both by the NDC and NPP have in effect supervised the destruction of the country, its water bodies and the economies of local communities.

Artisanal small-scale mining occurs in about 80 countries around the world and in Ghana accounts for about 35% of the total mining activity, but 80% of small-scale miners are unregistered. This is an almost $3 billion industry annually.

Sixty percent (60%) of our water bodies have been destroyed and if we continue at this pace, in six short years, by 2030, we will be importing water. The availability of water for human consumption and for irrigation will be completely imperiled.

The NPP and NDC bear full responsibility for this man-made environmental catastrophe. We were not called the Gold Coast for nothing. For thousands of years mining has taken place without the destruction of water bodies, the poisoning of flora and fauna with Mercury and Cyanide used in winning Gold, erosion of riverbanks, demolition of farms and the loss of topsoil, sorely needed for sustainable agriculture.

Furthermore, there is a failure to regulate the use of plastics in our daily lives, leading to another dimension of environmental degradation, which is destroying many species of fish and other seafood in the Atlantic Ocean. Our drains in cities and towns are choked, leading to unnecessary flooding and many preventable deaths.

Then there is the rising issue of microplastics. These are particles of plastic, less than 5mm in diameter, which have entered the bottled water, tap water, salt, beer, rivers, ocean, soil and the very air we breathe. These environmental pollutants are now in the food chain and latest research shows that adverse effects on humans include endocrine disorders, decreased reproductive health and cancer.

At the root of this problem lies chronic youth unemployment, which is fueled by a poor regulatory system for artisanal and small-scale mining, with poor enforcement of the already inadequate regulations.

Our nation is committing environmental suicide as this is accompanied by massive deforestation, displacement of farmers, undermining of cocoa and palm nut crops, the elimination of freshwater fish species which are poisoned by Mercury and Cyanide, and health hazards to people in the form of skin diseases, cancer, infertility and congenital birth defects in babies.

The poor regulatory framework, excessive bureaucracy, poor enforcement of laws have all contributed to an influx of foreigners, primarily Chinese numbering in the hundreds of thousands, who with Ghanaian partners are driving this environmental catastrophe. Traditional and municipal authorities, political party functionaries and law enforcement agencies, have all colluded in this crime against the country with full government participation.

In order to save our country, PAG proposes a complete moratorium on small scale mining for at least two years to allow for a complete cleanup and restoration of the environment. The small-scale miners will be subsidized to engage in agricultural production and other economic activities during this period. An International Environmental Restoration company will be engaged for the clean-up, including reclamation of sedimentary gold from the riverbeds to cover the cost of the restoration. This will involve a lot of jobs in environmental engineering.

Further, it would be helpful if clean gold-winning technologies not involving toxins like Mercury and Cyanide, are introduced with mandatory Training and Certification for all Artisanal and other miners in order to avoid future poisoning of precious Land and Water Bodies.

Plastics will also be dealt with by banning single use plastics in all shops, markets, and retail enterprises. There will be a national education program on waste management and implementation of separation of waste at the point of generation in homes and industry into the categories of organic waste, recyclable waste, and non-recyclable waste, to ensure that energy and compost can be generated on a large scale from waste and what can be recycled and refashioned for other uses is acquired for such purposes.

The technology exists for using plastics to fill potholes in roads and to have it added to bitumen to reduce the overall cost of road building. Plastic can also be used in building much needed sidewalks in urban areas and covering drains to improve infrastructure. Discarded plastic can also be fashioned into other durable products.

A review of all legislation regarding formal mining and small-scale mining, with a view to preserving and protecting the environment is long overdue. There are many regulatory systems around the world which offer more protection to the environment than our loose framework, which is built on PNDC Law 218, which never explicitly required small scale miners to protect the environment.

Enforcement of existing laws has been ad hoc in nature, including the use of the military, who historically, have been easily corrupted once they arrive on the scene. We require an enforcement arm of the environmental protection agency itself with powers of arrest, detention, and prosecution. Enforcement must not be encumbered by bureaucracy.

As long as government continues to be the major buyer of Gold extracted by artisanal miners, it remains in a conflicted position with respect to enforcing laws that regulate miners and protect the environment. It is also incumbent on us as a nation to manage plastic waste, reduce its usage and transition to a more sustainable and resilient environment.

PAG policies on the protection and restoration of the environment will be pursued without compromise. Ghana deserves much more than has been provided by the NPP and NDC.

Do not continue to waste your vote as you have for the last 32 years. Thank you.

For further information, kindly use the contacts below: [email protected]
+233-20-037-4742 (GH)
+233-57-614-0000 (GH) Twitter: @cn_northamerica
+1 404-259-8095 (USA)