The Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Professor Frimpong Boateng, has stated that the country cannot achieve its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aimed at ending poverty and protecting the planet if the country’s biodiversity is not achieved.
The Professor, who made this statement while addressing a gathering at this year’s World Environment Day Celebrations which was held at Kyebi in the Eastern Region on the theme “Connecting people to Nature from Cape Three Points to Bawku” said “Ghana has rich biodiversity that provides the food and water we need, and most of the resources for our industries and health services, we need to recognize the inherent value of natural resources in order to conserve lands and our natural resources.”
The Minister also expressed greater worry about the damaging extent of the country’s environment due to the menace of illegal mining, which has destroyed a great portion of the country’s forest and river bodies, he stated
“We need to improve our understanding of the links between biodiversity, ecosystems and human beings, and stop the decline of natural resources else failure to act now, would cause more decline in natural resources which we would pay a high price for in the near future, we should be mindful of our individual actions towards preserving natural resources in the country because our actions may have adverse effects on animals that can transfer poison to humans as we consume them.”
He stated that government is committed to stopping illegal mining and restoring the country’s lands and water bodies.
“In view of this, we are in the process of developing a coherent national biodiversity policy that will help conserve the ecosystem and species in the country’s natural reserves.”
The Member of Parliament for Nkawkaw, Hon. Eric Kwakye Daffour, who is also the Eastern Regional Minister, expressed disappointment over the extent of damage caused to the environment through the activities of illegal mining pollution and lumbering, saying “it is unfortunate our country is currently being confronted with enormous environmental challenges with respect to its water resources and land. Never in the history of this country have we been confronted with such massive land degradation as a result of illegal mining activities,deforestation among other unhealthy environmental activities.”
“Most of the time, we have exhibited gross disrespect for nature through our activities, it is high time Ghanaians appreciate nature and demonstrate a strong constant connection with nature through socio-cultural activities, we need a collective responsibility to protect forest resources, lands and water bodies, which promote ecotourism and can also generate employment and wealth creation for our country,” he added.
The acting Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), John Pwamang, explained that as part of plans to ensure sustainable utilization of the country’s natural resources and preserve the environment, the MESTI through EPA, has started a nationwide tree-growing programme.
“About 4,000 trees have been planted in Kyebi, and we are looking forward to plant more in the coming days.”
He also revealed a number of programmes the EPA together with other organizations are embarking on.
“We are coming up with strategies to help protect the environment and serve a good purpose for communities in future, with the government’s planting for food and jobs which will provide employment to millions of Ghanaians, we are reclaiming the lands to prepare most of them for the project.”
Okyehene Osaagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin II, who was the chairman of the celebration, reiterated his commitment to fighting against galamsey.
“I will do everything in my power to ensure that the polluted Birim River which is in my area, is to get back to its natural state. I am very confident we will win the fight against illegal mining.”
He then called for the autonomy of the EPA, and asked the government to end poverty to enable people to desist from engaging in galamsey.
Several other ministers including the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, John Peter Amewu, Minister of Housing Hon. Atta Kyea, Deputy Minister for Gender Children and Social Protection Mrs Gifty Twum Ampofo, United Nations Resident coordinator, Christine Cloack, and a host of other dignitaries from the Chinese Embassy in Ghana also joined in this year’s celebration.