Hedging celebration of 2 environmental days
“Green is the colour of life. It flows through all living things; connecting them all, the way I connect the ninjas”.
This was a statement by Lloyd Montgomery Garmadon; a fictional character in the computer-animated television series, “Ninjago” produced by The Lego Group a decade ago.
If you turn the human lungs upside down, one is likely to get a semblance of a tree. This depicts that trees are the lungs of the earth, giving oxygen while storing excess carbon.
The abundance resource of water bodies (70 per cent) on our geographically blue planet makes the connection of all forms of life possible.
Social and traditional media should guide the youth to pick up the value in to treating the environment with respect.
With all the knowledge and information overload about the importance of all the types of forest ecosystems to sustainable development, we are losing our forests at an alarming rate through desertification, selective deforestation and now the illegal mining in forest reserves.
Global Forest Watch says that Ghana lost 101Kha of forest in 2021. This is equal to 141,457 football fields.
How do we restore our diminishing forest while ensuring that the 83,333 tons of plastics we generated per month in Ghana, does not end up in the wrong places, as the UNDP cautions?
International Day of Forest (World Forestry Day) was launched in 2012 by UN General Assembly to be celebrated on March 21 every year to raise awareness of the importance of forests and trees.
The theme for the 2022 commemoration was “Forests and Sustainable Production.” World Environment Day was launched in 1972 by the UN General Assembly at the Stockholm Conference on Human Environment.
Its first celebration took place in the US with the theme, Only One Earth. Five years ago in 2018, #BeatPlasticPollution became the theme; the same theme #BeatPlasticPollution is marking the 50th Anniversary this year, giving the impression that more work needs to be done on plastics, forests and our health.
Amid the transmogrification of the 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), let us look at the chronological journey of environmental conservation with global themes.
Alternative to single use plastics is the cloth shopping bags (arrowed) showcased by participants in a conference
After 50 years, the events have become a funfair, and action has been relegated to the background.
Those setting the agenda or global themes with their top-down approach never renege nor compromise on their lifestyle, with more affluent consumption than ever and a vicious cycle of waste which also leads to biodiversity loss.
If we cannot reduce, refuse, reuse, recycle and recover at the top decision-making level (in our offices and homes), how would policy work at the bottom, where most are living at the edge of survival with shoe-string budgets?
The commemoration of World Environment Day and World Forestry Day in Ghana is on June 5 and June 9, 2023, respectively.
It would have been prudent to hedge the commemoration of both for sustainability and focus. Ironically, these divergent commemorations are compounding our problems.
After some decades, the meetings, events, funfairs and media attention have becoming a discordant note in the melody of progress.
• Every project of progress seems to become a fortress of recess. Not more than one million surviving trees can be accounted for, for the two previous Green Ghana Day of planting five and 20 million trees in a day.
• What is the point if the government ended up owing seedling contractors GH¢28 million for the 25 million seedlings given out freely?
• How about money to pay the youth in afforestation? Do they not deserve their wage?
We are in the mango season, why not encourage kids to nurse five as their homework? At least one will germinate. Citizens should plant Moringa and Momodica Foetida locally known as Nyanya leaves before the celebration of Homowo in August.
Since 2020 more than 500,000 trees could have been planted each year if we were intentional about letting each Basic Education Certificate Examination (B.E.C.E.) candidate nurture one tree as a climate action before they graduate. In the Philippines, a law has been passed to allow students to plant 10 trees if they want to graduate, (www.forbes.com).
For one million people to plant a coconut seedling at GH¢25, ask politicians to part with a percentage of their campaign money meant for posters and billboards.
About 30 per cent of the assemblies’ budget is spent on just collection and transporting waste.
A research study by the Directorate of Research, Innovation and Consultancy (DRIC) of the University of Cape Coast (UCC), on Municipal Solid Waste Characterisation and Landfill Emissions in the city of Accra and neighbouring municipalities within the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA) shows average per capita generation rates within low-income areas is 0.51 kg and that of their high-income counterparts stands at 0.91 kg.
Plastics are one of the greatest inventions of man, but the same chemical property has resulted in legacies of plastics that take centuries to decay.
Institutions like Planet Waves are championing the alternative to single-use plastics with cloth-shopping bags.
It is a way to intercept marine-bound plastics that the gutters connect into the sea.
Meanwhile, one does not need a degree or travel abroad to learn how to sort waste into different kinds.
The 2021 Population and Housing Census (PHC) shows Greater Accra Region (5,455,692) has overtaken Ashanti Region (5,440,463) with 15,000 more people. This increase in population has its associated waste generation challenges than collected, hence defeating the UN SDGs, as well as the President’s vision to make Accra a cleaner city by 2024.
We suggest a piggy bank with tins of ideal milk for kids to start saving money they get from trading their segregated plastic waste at buyback centres in collaboration with the local assemblies.
We are moving like a tortoise with a broken leg. It is making us live two centuries behind the clock. Local Climate and Ecological Emergency Toilet List (LCEETL) or Call for Action List above could guide us.
Any prepared speech to be made for a minister either for World Tourism Day this September or World Toilet Day in November 2023 and beyond are already in the archives.
We can hedge that celebration and use the money to provide decent biofil toilets to improve sustainable tourism.
The writer is an environmentalist/consultant for the Waste Segregation and Composting Movement.