Ophelia Mensah Hayford (middle), Minister of Environment, Science, Technology & Innovation, speaking at the event. With her are Cephas Adjei Mensah (right), Director of Research Statistics & Information Management, MESTI, and Dr Peter Dery (left), Director of Environment, MESTI. Picture: ERNEST KODZI
Ophelia Mensah Hayford (middle), Minister of Environment, Science, Technology & Innovation, speaking at the event. With her are Cephas Adjei Mensah (right), Director of Research Statistics & Information Management, MESTI, and Dr Peter Dery (left), Director of Environment, MESTI. Picture: ERNEST KODZI

Commemoration of Biological Diversity Day: Collective action needed for biodiversity preservation — Minister

This year's International Day of Biological Diversity (IDB) has been commemorated in Accra, with a call for collaboration and commitment by stakeholders to protect the environment from further destruction. 

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The Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), Ophelia Mensah Hayford, who made the call, said it was important for state and non-state institutions, civil society organisations (CSOs), academia and other stakeholders to collectively implement interventions to tackle illegal mining and other human activities that destroyed the environment.

"Biodiversity is the foundation of life on earth, encompassing the variety of species, ecosystems and genetic diversity that sustain ecosystems and provides essential services to humanity," she added.

Mrs Hayford further stressed the need to address human activities such as deforestation, habitat destruction, overexploitation of natural resources, pollution and effects of climate change that were causing unprecedented biodiversity loss, threatening the stability and resilience of ecosystems worldwide. 

The minister, who is also the (NPP) Member of Parliament for the Mfantseman Constituency, made the call at a Webinar held by MESTI in Accra yesterday to commemorate the day.

Present at the event were the Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Dr John Kingsley Krugu; Director of Environment at MESTI, Dr Peter Dery, and the Director of Intersectoral Network Department at EPA, Jewel Kudjawu.

Event

The day was established by the UN General Assembly in 2000 to promote the conservation and sustainable use of earth’s biodiversity.

Initially, it was observed on December 29, but in 2000, the General Assembly changed the date to May 22 after the adoption of the Convection of Biological Diversity and Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992.

It provides opportunity to highlight the critical role biodiversity plays in maintaining the balance of ecosystems. This year, the day was observed on May 22, 2024, on the theme: "Be part of the plan."

Commitment

Mrs Hayford said her outfit was committed to key actions, including policy formulation and implementation to reverse biodiversity loss.

"As a ministry, we reaffirm our commitment to develop and implement policies, strategies and action plans that integrate biodiversity conservation and sustainable use across sectors, including forestry, agriculture, fisheries and urban planning. 

“Mitigating deforestation and habitat fragmentation will promote sustainable land-use practices, including reforestation, agroforestry and sustainable agriculture,” she said. The minister added that they would prioritise research, innovation and technology transfer to enhance understanding of biodiversity dynamics, address emerging threats, and promote nature-based solutions for sustainable development, among other measures.

She added that efforts would be made to empower local communities and indigenous people as stewards of biodiversity through participatory approaches, traditional knowledge integration and community-based conservation initiatives.

Commitment

For his part, Dr Krugu said the theme for the celebration was a reminder to all citizens to take collective responsibility for the protection of the environment to prevent biodiversity loss.

He said climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution were the three key threats to humanity and the planet, and called for commitment to concrete actions to tackle those challenges.

Dr Krugu said the EPA would strengthen the application of environmental regulations to control such threats. He further stressed the need for both public and private institutions to mainstream biodiversity into their policies for sustainable action.

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