Attitudinal change key to natural resource management — Oppong Nkrumah
The Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, has stressed that the national dialogue on natural resource management, which ended in Accra last Friday, must come with attitudinal change and responsiveness among Ghanaians towards the environment.
He said the time had come to move beyond talk, and that concrete steps were needed to protect and preserve the environment and the nation’s natural resources.
"Stakeholder dialogues such as this one are consequential in terms of the effective management of our lands and natural resources,” the minister said.
The two-day dialogue, organised by the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL), in collaboration with Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources Ministry, brought together experts, policymakers, and state and non-state actors in the natural resource sector.
It explored challenges in the land, mining, forestry and other sectors, and proffered workable solutions to the issues.
“What remains now is the doing; and we must do more than what has already been done so that we can hold the line against further degradation and even recover where we have lost cover," Mr Oppong Nkrumah said at the closing session.
“The little change that each of us is willing to make will go a long way to bring the change that we collectively desire," he said.
The minister urged stakeholders to look beyond the dialogue to sustain the momentum to weed out illegalities in the natural resource sector.
"The law must bite to deter people," he stressed.
Mr Oppong Nkrumah said while the government was laying a solid foundation for value addition to minerals, it was equally important for stakeholders to collectively work to halt drivers of land and forest degradation.
"We cannot talk about effective exploitation of mineral resources without talking about the need to protect our forests, lands and water bodies because these mineral resources are found beneath our lands and within our forests.
"Therefore, government officials, regulatory bodies, traditional rulers, the clergy, civil society organisations (CSOs) and the media must play their roles well and take the message on attitudinal change to everyone so that they will see environmental protection and preservation as their responsibility," he said.
Mr Oppong-Nkrumah said it was important to safeguard natural resources because they played a pivotal role in the country’s development and constituted a major pillar of economic, social and environmental growth.
"Natural resources contribute to income generation, job creation and tax receipt on minerals production, which helps the government to provide critical infrastructure services in the area of education, health care, electricity and other essential needs," he added.
He said the government was concerned about the protection and preservation of those natural resources for which reason the needed infrastructure was being established for effective exploitation and utilisation of the resources.
He said it was for this reason that the Ghana Integrated Aluminium Development Corporation and the Ghana Integrated Iron and Steel Development Corporation had been set up to ensure the retention of the full value chain of minerals, from production to other downstream activities.
The minister added that the discovery of lithium and other critical minerals in various parts of the country ought to be given serious attention.
"This remains a major priority for the government, and the needed modalities must be put in place to ensure the effective exploitation of those resources,” he said.
The dialogue discussed the interventions the government had put in place to derive maximum value from natural resources.
Participants also discussed policies and regulations that could be pursued to ensure maximum benefit from the resources.
In the land sector, the discussants looked at the extent to which encroachment activities on state lands, multiple sale of lands, the phenomenon of land guards, registration of land titles and other challenges in the land sector could be addressed.
The forest sector discussions focused on ways of restoring the degraded forests, how to prevent illegal logging and the measures that could be adopted to curb mining in forest reserves.