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24 September 2008 | Sci/Environment

Ghana works to achieve environmental sustainability


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has started a programme aimed at improving environmental conditions and ensuring its sustainability, Mr Jonathan Allotey, Executive Director of the EPA, announced on Wednesday.

When the programme is successful, it would serve as a model for improving environmental problems and ensuring environmental sustainability in many African countries.

The programme, which was launched as part of the environmental initiative of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) has a special focus on development and adoption of an environmental project to address environmental challenges in the African region, while combating poverty and promoting socio-economic development.

At a workshop to discuss Ghana's National Action Plan, Mr Allotey pointed out that the plan sought to maintain the integrity of the environment and ensure sustainable use of natural resources in the region.

The workshop brought together people from all environmental related departments of the University of Ghana and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.

Other participants were from the Cocoa Research Institute, Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Water Resources Commission, Wildlife Division, Ghana Standards Board, Volta River Authority, all Ministries, Forestry Commission, Ghana Ports and Harbour Authority, the private sector, as well as people from environmental related NGOs.

Participants would look at Ghana's draft proposal and make additions and subtractions to ensure that the project could be implemented successfully.

Mr. Allotey said implementation of the Action Plan had been largely limited to the regional and sub-regional level. However, there was an urgent need to translate the interventions made so far into country level activities.

Ghana is one of five countries funded by the United Nations Environmental Programme to prepare their national action plans.

The other countries involved are Cameroon, Ethiopia, Libya and Mozambique.

Mr. Allotey said: “It is worth noting that at the national level emphasis would be placed on building capacity on ecosystems services valuation and enhancing capacity of countries to have more effective legal regimes and functional institutional structures that can contribute to sound environmental management in the country.”

Ecosystem services include water availability in various areas and good temperature.

Professor Oteng Yeboah of the University of Ghana and a member of EPA Board who chaired the workshop said participants would look at the status, trends, challenges and government responses to various environmental challenges in the area of environmental policy and legislation, land degradation and desertification, climate change, chemical management, health and environment as well as marine, coastal and freshwater resources.

He said if all went well, the project could be ready for implementation in about a-year-and-a-half and mentioned the slow implementation of projects as one of the major challenges faced in the environment sector.

Calling for a healthy and sustainable environment, Prof. Yeboah, an advocate for a healthy environment in Ghana, said: “When the environment is healthy, the people are also healthy.”

Contracts awarded to the sister-in-law has raised questions of conflict of interest.