The Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI) and the Swiss Embassy in Ghana have launched two waste management cooperation initiatives to enhance waste management in Ghana.
The Sustainable Recycling Industries Project (SRI) is one of the initiatives. The project, which is in its second phase, is aimed at building national capacity to deal with electronic waste (e-waste) in terms of infrastructure and human resources.
The other is the World Resource Forum (WRF), an international science-based platform for knowledge sharing and strategy mapping to deal with the economic, political, social and environmental implications of the extraction and use of natural resources globally.
The forum is expected to be held in Ghana and it will be the first time it will be held in Africa.
The second phase of the SRI project, which was launched in Accra yesterday, is being funded by the Swiss government at a cost of 6.5 million Swiss Franc (GH¢37.20 million). It was begun in 2019 and expected to end in 2023.
The project is expected to consolidate activities that were begun in the first phase, including contributions made to policy development and requirements and standard operating procedures for sound e-waste management.
It is also anticipated to heighten awareness of sound e-waste management among producers and importers of electronic equipment.
During the first phase which began in 2015 and ended in 2018, conceptual support was given for the passage of the Hazardous and Electronic Waste Control and Management Act (917), which laid down the principles for future reforms in the e-waste sector.
Scrap dealers at the time received training on how to extract copper and other materials from e-waste in environmentally friendly ways.
The WRF will take place at the Accra International Conference Centre from June 23 to 25 this year.
It will discuss how natural resources in West Africa and indeed Africa as a whole can be used sustainably.
The sector minister, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, underscored the need for proper and efficient management of resources through the adoption of responsible ways to produce and consume them while taking the environment and public health into consideration.
He said in the process, waste from electronics and plastic and other forms of materials was created and extra billions of dollars were required to manage the waste generated.
He described waste from electronics and plastics as just a subset of waste created.
“It is imperative for us as humans to take a critical look at our production and consumption habits,” he added.
The President of WRF, who is also a former Director of the Federal Office for the Environment in Switzerland, Dr Bruno Oberle, said the forum focused on three interlinked topics with the headlines: "Fair resource extractions for a quality future", "From waste to resources for development" and "Making a case for circular resources".
He said environmental challenges related to the primary extraction of mineral resources and need for infrastructure to be sustained had never been so high on the international political agenda.
Dr Oberle said the WRF 2020 would offer international stakeholders a platform for open discussion, particularly in view of the fifth United Nations Environment Assembly scheduled for Nairobi in 2021.
He said the conference would be supported by the Swiss Government, the German Technical Cooperation (GIZ), the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the Ghana Environmental Protection Agency, the United Nations University in Ghana and the UN International Resource Panel.
The Swiss Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Philipp Stalder, said Ghana was Switzerland’s second most important trading partner in Africa and, therefore, it was committed to supporting the country with its development agenda.
“Switzerland is a country that has few mineral resources of its own and is a key importer of Ghana's raw materials such as gold and cocoa. With its support for the WRF conference this year and the SRI, Switzerland is making a relevant contribution to sustainable extraction of natural resources and also to a fair recovery of raw materials from waste,” he said.