Tag Archives: Sustainability

Ghana: A critical look “Ecology versus Economy”

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.

Also featured on DW ECO – http://p.dw.com/p/2hDl7

Education for Sustainable Development Workshop at Africa Clean Up Conference 2017

The workshop which was held on the 7th of July, 2017 started with a brief Q&A on the importance of diversity and inclusion. In about 15 minutes the group had given a lot of reasons why diversity is important but only a few people mentioned inclusion. This was good and this formed an integral part of the workshop. It was my objective that by the end of the session, participants will not only appreciate diversity but also understand the need for inclusion.

I projected a slide which talked about diversity and I used my obsession with nature (particularly the ocean) to explain the reason why diversity is not enough until inclusion is established. I said, “When I watch any documentary about the ocean, I get excited and I think you all do – why? Because the ocean gives a lot of beauty – it’s colorful with a lot of species. The beauty of the ocean is possible because of the diversity of organisms. Some are colorful, others are not. Some are fascinating, scary, beautiful, amazing, ugly, and think of all the adjectives you can use to describe all that we see in the ocean. If the ocean chooses to accept diversity but refuses to foster inclusion, we will not see its beauty.”

This analogy helped to paint a good picture to the audience. Additionally, I made it known to them that inclusion is very important for humans to enrich our understanding in the reasons why people do what they do – helps us to understand and appreciate different cultures.

Moving on, I launched into Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). So no one in the room had an idea what ESD is. This was another thing that made me happy – the session was really impactful. I explained ESD, then furthered to mention the need for ESD in modern education and how Africa, in particular, is far from attaining a sustainable economy because we lack ESD in our education system. ESD provides an environment for people to acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values necessary to build a sustainable future – we lack this in our systems. We only give the knowledge to students and that’s it.

It was very interesting when participants from the University of Lagos – Nigeria, reacted to the session on ESD. They were very interested to have learned about ESD and totally agreed that ESD is needed to build the future of young people in helping Africa to reach a sustainable future. At the end of the session, they extended an invitation to me to deliver the Leadership, Sustainability, and Ethics Workshop in University of Lagos, Nigeria.

Following that, participants were divided into four groups to undertake an exercise in system thinking and critical thinking. The task was simple – most often our solutions to the problems we encounter in life leads to other problems in the future. In view, we need to make thoughtful decisions which take into consideration all factors that could be affected via the solutions we make. I showed a video of system thinking based on a story of cats in Borneo and based on that participants were asked to provide solutions to increasing crime rates, traffic congestion, and air pollution.

Participants did a great job delivering critical solutions to these problems. I advised that participants keep practicing system thinking and critical thinking in every problem they encounter in life – no matter how small it may be. “Always keep your eyes on the larger picture, focus on the long term and make decisions based on that,” I said.

Now, I am waiting to deliver the Leadership, Sustainability, and Ethics workshop in Nigeria.

Thanks to Earth Charter, University of Peace, and Inclusive Leadership Cooperation for their support and online training they offer to young people across the globe.

Climate Change Talk with Business Support Associates

For the past two months, I have been working with a group of business support associates in Ghana. Through my social media platforms and engagement, they identified that I was a climate activist and also through social conversations, they were keen to understand climate change – the science and why it is a relevant topic that needs global attention.

So, on Monday 28th November, I did a presentation to explain the science of climate change to about 30 young people of different backgrounds but working in a business field with SMEs. I also shared a bit of my COP22 experience with them. Most of them knew what climate change was but did not have a clear understanding on the cause and how they play a role in mitigating climate change. I started by explaining GHGs and also how modernization has impacted our climate. Most people raised issue of fuel based economies and how these economies will collapse if the world should totally go renewable. We dialogue on the issue for about 5mins and concluded that economies such as the US has made huge investments towards fossil fuel and that’s why it’s difficult for some investors in the country to accept clean energy. Despite these known hurdles, I led the discussion to inform my audience that leadership and governance is what we need to combat climate change. Countries need to be sensitive to the challenges of other countries that are extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Relating to their question on how climate change is important and why it has global attention, I explained to them the impacts of climate change and used sea level rise as an example of how climate change could flood all major cities in the world in the next 15 to 30 years.

At the end of the talk, I had a good feedback from the junior consultants and together we all discussed eco-friendly lifestyles which could contribute to alleviating the impacts of climate change and also reduce our carbon footprint. As a gesture of green living, I gave them Samsung and UNEP Tunza stick note souvenirs and pens  which made of recycled papers.

Drawing Contest on Environmental Sanitation

Environmental sanitation drawing competition was launched to evaluate the four workshop organized by IDEAS – UCC on environmental sanitation with support from Tunza Eco-Generation in the form of souvenirs.

The competition was launched on Tuesday 17th may 2016 by IDEAS – UCC team. The participating schools were Imam Khomeini Primary School and Samrose Complex Academy, both in Amamoma community within the University of Cape Coast (UCC) in the Central Region of Ghana.
The submission date was set for 23rd may, 2016 and a total of 468 pupils were expected to take part in the competition (253 from Imam Khomeini Primary School and 215 from Samrose Complex Acacdemy). Out of this 468 pupils, 213 (128 from Imam Khomeini, and 85 from Samrose Complex Academy) drawings were submitted.
Out of the submitted, 33 were shortlisted and then the final 3 were selected from the 33.
The criteria used for shortlisting included the following the drawing should send a clear message, the drawing should be creative, colored and neat.
The winners (Margaret Osman – 1st place, Abigail Andoh – 2nd place, Kwame Adonor – 3rd place) were awarded in the following way:
FIRST PRIZE = a certificate and a gift certificate for a school uniform.
SECOND PRIZE = a certificate, a milo branded football and cap, a recycled basket, a coloring book, and a rule.
THIRD PRIZE = a certificate, a sound instrument, a coloring book, and a rule.
The awards were presented to the winners on Friday the 3rd of June, 2016.
The certificates and prizes were provided by Environment 360. Tunza Eco-generation provided pens, sticky note, and leaflets which were used during the workshop.

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ANGOLA: ILLIGAL WILDLIFE TRADE HIGHER THAN ARMS SMUGGLING

United Nation’s Environment Programme (UNEP) and Interpol has revealed through a report on Environmental Crime that inability to prevent and halt wildlife/environmental crime will make it impossible to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

During this year’s World Environmental Day, all strength and vigor was headed towards Angola – Africa’s biggest ivory and bush meat market, as stated by a recent report by Karren Alan from Angola.

On such a world recognized day, with the slogan ‘Go Wild for Life’, world’s environmentalists and conservationist were all in to develop strategies to fight illegal wildlife trade in the World. With Angola as the leading illegal wildlife trade country in Africa, UNEP celebrated World Environmental Day in Angola.

In phase of such celebration, Angola’s is putting up efforts to end illegal bush meat and wildlife trade to show their commitment towards the global goals. In Angola, it is literally a war between poachers and conservationist. A report by UNEP, shows that 100,000 African elephants were killed (by poachers) between 2010 and 2012 – this also tells how crucial it is for environmental and conservation investors to consider Africa as a top place to develop eco-tourism and other related initiatives that will enhance the closure and end of the poaching revolution.

According to Karren Allan, a reporter from Luanda, a project termed ‘Okavango Wilderness Project’ and Angola’s National Geographical Society expeditionary team have been studying the illegal trade of wildlife. The Okavango Wilderness Project is already proposing a reserve of about 175,000 kilometer square – a monitored but yet protected/reserved field where wildlife will have a better habitat to live and grow without being threatened by poachers. More so, such developments is accompanied with high infrastructural and administrative costs. The project also stated that there are existing wild regions with lots of wildlife which can be protected before it gets very late.

The leader of the National Geographical Society had mentioned that fighting the illegal wildlife trade is ideally a cause of conservation and sustainability. Additionally, he revealed the cost of some bush meat in the country. According to him, a monkey costs 6 USD while it costs 60 USD to purchase a cut of snake.

In recent times, through support from international agencies and the Government of Angola, commenced an initiative to recruit soldiers and military personnel as wildlife guards in an effort to end the wildlife trade while promoting conservation. Culprits found trading/smuggling ivory are to face a 3 years jail sentence which has been backed by law, however, the initiative is not yielding its full potential – citizens says.

According some citizens and history, bush meat became a favorite during the times of war in Angola. People will resort in bushes and feed on bush meat; after the war, they see no reason to restrain from consuming bush meat. The concept of conservation is not well understood by citizens and the income generated from trading bush meat is so lucrative such that it wouldn’t be easy to just end the era. Per UN and Interpol report, illegal wildlife trade is cumulatively functioning on a larger industrial scale and is possibly dominating arms smuggling.

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4th Environmental Sanitation Workshop at SAMROSE

Tunza Eco-Generation and IDEAS for University of Cape Coast, on the 8th of April 2016, went to SAMROSE COMPLEX ACADEMY to educate the pupils on the importance of environmental sanitation as part of our environmental sanitation workshop which I have been posting reports on.
Already, I have posted 3 reports and the 3rd workshop was posted just about a week now.
We were warmly received by the staff present due to the absence of the headmistress and assistant, they helped in organizing the pupils.
As mentioned in all the previous reports, we highlighted on basic sanitation practices and things that our young generation can do to keep their environment clean. This time round, we had a female – called Daystar joining our team and she did an incredible job educating the children on environmental health and sanitation.
Daystar first explained the meaning of environment and sanitation to the pupils. She then went on to talk about the reason behind the workshop (ie, environmental sanitation), stating that unhygienic conditions cause diseases, diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera, typhoid, malaria and worm infections, which are mostly acquired by children. She explained further that these diseases can be prevented when our environment is kept clean.
Emmanuel Marfo also touched on littering, stating that littering causes gutters to be choked leading to floods, and that one should always dispose of waste properly. He also said that one should keep waste such as rubbers and plastics till one sees a waste bin and that littered environments destroy other organisms that are useful and important to us.
On personal hygiene, Daystar stated the following as practices that promote personal hygiene bathing at least twice a day, brushing our teeth at least twice a day, washing our hands with soap and running water frequently, washing our clothes, trimming our fingernails and keeping our hair neat.

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Next thing we did after our Environmental Sanitation Workshop was a Drawing Competition for all the four participating schools. Expect report soon!