Earth Day is an annual environmental movement commemorated on April 22nd. It is a time for reflection; a time where all people in all places are urged to reflect on how their daily activities impact the environment and as well, find ways by which communities can preserve the environment to ensure a sustainable future for all. The theme for this year’s celebration is ‘‘Restore Our Earth’’.
According to earthday.org, ‘‘Restore Our Earth’’ reminds us of the opportunities that lay ahead. Green Africa Youth Organization (GAYO) re-echo this call to “restore our earth”! It has become a necessity not just out of sheer likeness for the planet but also because humanity lives on the earth and is only as healthy as the planet itself is. Every one of us needs healthy earth to support our jobs, livelihoods, health, survival, and happiness.
Ghana still faces an increasing threat of an environmental crisis due to the nature of human activities in the country. The country continues to be riddled with challenges such as deforestation, desertification, land degradation, plastic pollution, water pollution, air pollution, improper waste disposal and climate change. Over 3,000 metric tons of plastic waste is produced every day and much of it dumped as litter or placed into improvised landfills. These plastics end up in open drainage systems, choking them and causing flooding.
Illegal mining activities pose a major risk to our land and water resources. This results in land and other forms of environmental degradation. Many agricultural lands are being lost as a result of illegal mining activities. This has become a threat to food production and food security in the country as the population continuously increases. Additionally, water pollution from increasing illegal mining activities.
The Environmental Protection Agency has reported that Ghana is already experiencing hotter weather, increased variability in rainfall, flooding, salt and freshwater temperature change among others. It is therefore imperative that all stakeholders use Earth Day to create awareness and work together on vital issues such as climate change mitigation and adaptation, protection of land and water resources, addressing waste management issues among many others in the country.
This is why GAYO, working hand in glove with the Global Landscapes Forum and other partners, called on all actors to take the necessary steps to harness landscapes as a way of checking biodiversity loss and advance sustainability during the Biodiversity Digital Conference 2020. These calls were further put into a report to offer perspectives for policymakers and other stakeholders.
Ghana has implemented many policies over the years as well as adapted strategies to help the country transition into a green economy such as the Ghana National Climate Change Policy in 2013, Environment and Climate Change laws, waging a fight against illegal mining (galamsey). However, Ghana still has a long way to go if we want to boast about our achievement of the sustainable development goals.
‘‘We have a blueprint: the 2030 Agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The door is open; the solutions are there. Now is the time to transform humankind’s relationship with the natural world -and with each other. And we must do so together’’ (The Secretary-General: Address at Columbia University ‘The State of the Planet’’).
At the Climate Ambition Summit 2020 which was organized by the UNFCCC and UK COP26, GAYO highlighted the extreme need for climate policies to be prioritized in Ghana. GAYO also called on African governments to focus on delivering training and financing for youth such that younger generations can adapt to the changing climate and broken planet. GAYO envision a world where all individuals have the conservation of the natural environment at heart. We contribute to a sustainable future by empowering the youth to provide solutions to pressing environmental issues as well as provide opportunities for communities to transition into sustainability. This does not only create greener lifestyles and a healthy environment but also contributes to revenue generation from the practice of waste to resource.
These have been the motivations behind some of GAYO’s initiatives including the Sustainable Communities Project which aims at implementing a zero-waste model to waste management as a way of addressing environmental pollution from wastes and creating green jobs.
The Trees4Biodiversity project through which GAYO has been advancing massive tree planting exercises all across Ghana, the periodic cleanup exercise and the constant sensitization on environmental sustainability are all activities that are helping to restore the earth. We want to use this day to admonish the youth to appreciate the environment more, adopt greener lifestyles, create environmental awareness and help ensure environmental sustainability.
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Source: Ghana Web