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West Africa governments urged to address environmental issues

West Africa governments urged to address environmental challengesThe Deputy Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Mrs Bernice Heloo, has called for a concerted effort by stakeholders of the West African sector to help address the various challenges facing the environment across the West African sub-region.

According to her, issues about the environment were trans-boundary and cross-cutting, hence the needed rigorous commitment from West Africa governments to address them.

“There is therefore the need for a clearly articulated and widely accepted strategic direction which focuses on sustainable and equitable development,” she said.

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The deputy minister was speaking at the opening ceremony of a capacity-building workshop for West African experts on the environment on the restoration of the forest and other ecosystems to support the achievement of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets in Accra.

The Aichi Biodiversity Targets are a set of 20 time-bound, measurable targets agreed by the parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan in October, 2010.

Achievement of the targets would contribute to reducing and eventually halting the loss of biodiversity at a global level by the middle of the twenty-first century.

The five-day workshop seeks to examine the commitments by various countries in the sub-region, guidelines on best practices for ecosystem restoration, resource mobilisation among others.

The programme was put together by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) in collaboration with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and sponsored by the Japanese Government.

Buffer zones
Dr Mrs Heloo further called for the implementation of national buffer zone policies for rivers and protected areas within the sub-region, noting that intensive education ought to be carried out for potential users on the dangers their activities posed to wildlife and water bodies.

In all of those, she stated that there was the need to actively involve the local people in the various countries by way of making local communities partners in protected area management.

That, she said, could be done through intensifying community education to promote healthy environmental practices.

“As a region, we must create specialised courts to adjudicate on issues concerning protected areas and other forest offences,” she added.

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The deputy minister indicated that over the years, Ghana had shown a lot of commitment as far as the protection of its ecosystem was concerned.

She stated that Ghana had adopted appropriate agricultural intensification techniques that provided irrigation infrastructure and promoted correct soil conservation techniques.

Other strategies the nation had adopted, she said, included the promotion of plantation or woodlot development to meet the needs of the society and the utilisation of non-traditional tree species such as rubber-wood, coconut and bamboo to supplement raw material supply from natural forests.

She, therefore, called on stakeholders to take a cue from Ghana’s example to help resolve the increasing menace of the destruction of the forest system in the region.

Commitment
The Director of the Science and Technology Policy Research Institute (STEPRI) of the Council for Scientific Industrial Research, Dr George O. Essegbey, also called for commitment from all parties involved in the sustainability of the environment across the region.
Story: Charles Andoh

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