The Brong-Ahafo Regional Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Mr. Isaac Osei, has noted that it is long overdue, for Ghana to adopt the polluter pays principle, which would enforce polluters of the environment to pay for the cost of remedy.
Mr. Osei said the earth was now at a critical stage, beyond which there would be no recovery at all, should people continue degradation on this present scale.
He was speaking on the theme, “Environmental Protection: The Role of the State, Community and Students,” at the launch of the Students' Representative Council (SRC) Week Celebration, of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Sunyani Campus.
Mr. Osei urged the state to vigorously pursue intensive Environmental Education, and continue to sign International Conventions on the environment, as well as building environmental capacities through workshops and seminars, and revise curricula of schools to emphasise environmental protection.
He commended the students for the choice of the theme, saying it demonstrated their resolve in helping to protect, and conserve the environment, not only for their generation, but also for generations yet unborn.
Mr. Osei continued that their background, as renewable natural resources, scientists should rekindle the potentials in them, to find solutions to the myriad of problems confronting the environment today.
According to him, human beings are at the centre of the numerous environmental problems, harnessing greed to achieve their personal gains, making it imperative for them to find solutions to real and potential problems, confronting the fragile environment, hence the role in environmental protection.
He said that state had fared fairly well in putting in structures that protect the environment, by enacting appropriate laws to ensure that the environment was protected within the confines of acceptable standards.
However, Mr. Osei said that the state must critically examine the existing laws, to find out whether they have been effective in their implementation, adding, “Certainly, it is quite clear that the implementation of the law has virtually failed, and that calls for some amendments, and other environmentally related legislations, having in mind stricter punishment and enforcement.”
According to him, the state could look at certain marginal lands, which are unproductive agronomically, and create and conserve such areas as forest reserves, since most of the existing forest reserves have been degraded, and the ecological benefits that were being derived from them, hitherto, are virtually non-existent.
He called for the implementation of massive afforestation programmes by the state, to revamp the status of degraded forests, and give requisite attention to research institutions, to probe into ways of protecting the environment, as well as establishing Environmental Courts to fast track environmental-related cases.
Mr. Osei suggested that communities could enact local or traditional bye laws, adopt environmentally friendly farming practices, accept and fully adopt the concept of fire volunteer squads, and establish tree plantations along the banks of rivers and streams, as roles in protecting the environment.
He continued that communities could explore the possibility of converting solid waste into useful products like manure, and ensure stricter discipline in general waste management, as well as embarking on periodic clean-up campaigns and exercises.