Regional News of Thursday, 7 June 2012

Source: GNA

Ghana observes 46th World Environment Day

Ms. Sherry Ayittey, Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, says this year’s World Environment Day celebration seeks to remind Ghanaians of Government’s commitment to make the earth a conducive place to live in.

She said few years ago, the idea of a ‘Green Economy’ with its links to sustainable development and poverty eradication was a novel concept confined to development practitioners and academics, but that it was among the top two issues that would be deliberated by policymakers at the United Nations (UN) Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) this year.

Ms Ayittey was speaking at the 46th celebration of World Environment Day on the theme, “Green Economy: Does it include you?” at Sunyani in the Brong Ahafo Region. The event is Ghana’s first celebration since its declaration by the UN General Assembly in 1972.

The Minister said since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, which was a landmark event of forward looking and effective international cooperation, Ghana had seen significant progress without sacrificing social and economic growth.

She stated that the environment was no longer a fringe issue on the margins of international debate and would be demonstrated at the Rio summit, adding that “Environment plays a more central role than ever before in debates on economic development and human well-being.”

Ms Ayittey said Green Economy was defined by the UN Environment Program (UNEP) as one that resulted in improved human well-being and social equity, and significantly reduced environmental risks and ecological scarcities, which was possible to achieve rapid economic growth without destroying the environment.

She said the Green Economy initiative was launched in 2008, and had been led by the UNEP to provide comprehensive and practical working mechanism through analysis and policy support for investing in green sectors, and in greening environmental unfriendly sectors.

“The concept of a Green Economy is to present us an alternative vision for achieving our desire to simultaneously promote sustainability and economic growth, which some of the economic models and development processes adopted during the industrial revolution, and even now, are at the expense of environmental sustainability and quality.

“For us to be part of a green economy, it is an obligation to ensure that national development is not achieved in isolation with ecological improvement, thus the growth in our income and employment will be driven by public and private investments that reduces carbon emissions and pollution, enhance energy and resource efficiency, and prevent the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services” she explained.

Ms Ayittey said Ghana had established the then Environmental Protection Council in 1974 as an advisory body to advise Government on sustainable development, and had adopted the Strategic Environmental Assessment as a tool for mainstreaming environmental issues in all development programmes.

She said, “Our quality of life depends on natural resources and the environment; they are the foundation of life. If we use and manage them in a sustainable way, they will continue to meet our needs for energy, food, minerals, fresh water, clean air and fertile soils, all of which are essential to enable us to continue to grow and prosper.”**