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Testing Policy Scenarios for Safe Migration

Exactly a week ago, I was in the Netherlands with colleagues from UNU-EHS to join early policy professionals across the globe to test multiple policy scenarios in solving the existing migration and refugee crisis. Migration is a critical global issue for all countries whether low, middle, or high-income, with 25 million people being displaced each year! Realistically and very interesting, while some countries can readily provide cash assistance to other nations to accept migrants or even reduce the rate of migration, it doesn’t solve the problem entirely. Humans are mobile and will migrate once present conditions are not favourable for desired livelihood outcome. In 2017, the number of international migrants reached 258 million, an increase of 49 percent since 2000; with 48 percent being women, and 14 percent under the age of 20 years (UN DESA, 2017, The International Migration Report). Migration isn’t going anywhere and hence, we need to find an effective solution to ensure safe migration and proper integration of migrants in new locations

After about 10 hours of thinking, discussion, debate, and offering perspective from different backgrounds, we understood that a blend of these factors, while opening borders for asylum seekers or receiving high migrant influx,  offers a good solution
– Increasing Human Rights Index (access to health care, education, language & vocational training, housing, etc)
– Increasing GDP (Startup grants, wage subsidies, etc)
– Avoiding political stress and increasing government favorability (Political communication, good governance & accountability).

The drivers of migration can be traced back to actions taken by countries centuries ago of which we are seeing the effects now. Industrialisation leading to anthropogenic climate change, unjust & exploitative trade agreements, etc.

During COP24, our Director at UNU-EHS, Prof. Dirk Messner discussed the possibility of introducing Climate Passports to climate-induced displaced populations (esp. SIDS – small island developing states), whose territory is at risk of becoming uninhabitable as a result of climate change. He said that “Countries with considerable responsibility for climate change should open their doors as host countries to people with a climate passport”. This will grant them a legitimate way to move to safer locations. What do you think about this? How do we decide countries with ‘considerable responsibility for climate change’? How do we hold them accountable for displaced islands? With the United States already out of the Paris Agreement, should the Climate Passport be a legal agreement if adopted? Or a free-will decision by countries?

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Plastic Pollution in Ghana Joshua

Power Shift Ghana 2018: End Plastic Pollution.

On World Environmental Day 2018, I was excited to share with about 200 young people the origin of plastics, how it pollutes our environment, the effects on human health and simple steps they can take to reduce their dependency on single-use plastics.

The session which lasted for about 45 minutes had a huge impact on everyone who attended Power Shift Ghana 2018 and it was a moment for individuals to make a commitment to ditch disposable plastic products.

Below is the presentation I used during the session. Have a read and ask me any question on how to live a plastic-free life. Ultimately, together with Green Africa Youth Organization and the entire Youth Environmental Movement, we hope to create a sustainable and healthy country through our #PlasticFreeGhana campaign.

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Ghana: A critical look “Ecology versus Economy”

A guest commentary for Deutsche Welle (DW) ECO – http://p.dw.com/p/2hDl7

Ghana is about to trade 5 percent of its bauxite deposits to China for $15 billion. In a guest commentary by environmental advocate Joshua Amponsem, he questions the motives and long-term impact of such a move.

As an environmental activist, I have come to appreciate that nature gives us everything. Our basis of life is dependent on nature and thus, it’s important that we see nature as our source of life rather than a resource for mere exploitation. It is this second line of thinking, which I believe has the people of Ghana troubled as the country’s vice president enters into an agreement to acquire $15 billion from China. The weariness of the citizens is very strong as the country strives to stop illegal small-scale mining which was largely driven by Chinese immigrants in Ghana.

The deal which has been described as a joint partnership between Ghana and China, and later termed a “joint venture” by the vice president, has received intense criticism from the public. As per the details provided by the government, the $15 billion will be a joint venture where China will receive less than 5 percent of Ghana’s bauxite reserve as said by the vice president at the China-Africa Joint Research and Exchange Programme on the theme: Building resilient industries and infrastructure for economic transformation in Africa: The role of China. He said, “This agreement will not add to our debt stoke but will rather help boost development because it is a win-win venture.”

How Ghana intends to use the billions

China has built a reputation when it comes to partnerships involving the exchange of money for natural resources in developing countries. And such partnerships have often been later regretted by many under-developed and developing countries that have entered into such agreements. Ghanaian citizens are worried, social commentators are not sure of the outcome of the partnership.

Generally, the government is planning infrastructure development with this money. The projects made known so far span across supporting the government’s one-district one-factory initiative, road construction, railway development – including a railway line from Takoradi to Kumasi (two trade cities in the country), interchange, purchase of vehicles and other resources for the security service, building regional hospitals, and an inland port along the Accra Kumasi road. The plan for the money is to strengthen the country’s infrastructure sector and enhance trade within the country.

The big question

If China finds it profitable to trade $15 billion for less than 5 percent of Ghana’s Bauxite, then it is important that Ghana develops a sustainable strategy to reap the same amount from their natural resource while regulating it at their own pace rather than trading it away.

What happens when the $15 billion runs out? Will the country keep trading its natural resources to acquire money for development? What is Ghana’s approach to becoming self-sustainable? It is important for the leadership of Ghana and its people to realize that the country will not be built on the foundation of extractive industries. These riches have not translated into wide-ranging job creation, social welfare or stability.

Economy versus Ecology

It comes across very often that environmental activists do not understand the need for economies to grow. However, this is not the plain truth. The quest to develop economies via unregulated and unsustainable exploitation of natural resource does not build our economies – it destroys our life source (fresh air, water, food, and functioning ecosystems) and gives us nothing more than a short term representation of wealth.

Building the economy should not rip up our quality environment which translates to quality health conditions and less cost on healthcare. Already, our forests, water bodies, and arable lands have suffered severe damage which is (and will) cost us millions of Ghanaian cedis. Polluted air, water, and food mean that a higher percentage of income will have to go into healthcare.

The bigger picture should be our focus – the very reason why there have been initiatives like “green economy” and “sustainable development.”

The land – especially for a country like Ghana where 57 percent of its total land area is classified as agricultural land – provides us with healthy and nutritious crops. These lands need to be protected and used wisely.

Joshua Amponsem becomes a World Climate Ambassador.

Joshua Amponsem found Climate Interactive’s tools essential in his work as a young environmental activist in Ghana. In the last three months, he has been mobilizing young people, social entrepreneurs, and universities across Ghana to experience World Climate simulations, and hence, inspiring them to take climate action. We asked Joshua how World Climate simulations were relevant for building the capacity of new climate leaders in Ghana.

 

Grace: How would you describe the climate challenge in Ghana?  

Joshua: Ghana’s government efforts towards climate change adaptation and mitigation are currently progressing steadily with the support of international organizations and civil society activism. However, there is a huge knowledge gap among citizens. Over the few past years, civil society organizations have increased their climate education efforts. While policies reflect climate action, implementation has not reflected much effort. Sustainable production and consumption is neither implemented nor communicated adequately. Water bodies are being destroyed and water, sanitation, and hygiene infrastructure is poor. It’s even worse when we experience floods. Green Africa Youth Organization (GAYO) acknowledges that more needs to be done. World Climate is helping us bridge this knowledge gap and inspire climate action.

Read Full Story here: https://www.climateinteractive.org/blog/joshua-amponsem-from-ghana-becomes-a-world-climate-ambassador/

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World Climate Simulation with High School Students in Ghana