World Environment Day of floods and tears

Let us think about the environmental consequences of the choices we make; let us become better stewards of our planet.

These are the words of Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, to mark the World Environment Day 2015.

According to him, the well-being of humanity, the environment and the functioning of the economy, ultimately depend upon the responsible management of the planet’s natural resources.

“Living sustainably is about doing more and better with less. It is about knowing that rising rates of natural resource use and the environmental impacts that occur are not a necessary by-product of economic growth,” said Ban Ki-moon.

In Ghana, World Environmental Day is being commemorated amidst flooding in parts of the country, leading to some loss of lives.

The country’s environmental pollution and degradation fuel the floods anytime the rains set in. Littering and disposal of garbage in drains and gutters choke waterways and bring about flooding. Poor infrastructure development has resulted in people building in waterlogged areas, whilst law enforcement is relaxed for political expediency.

Ghana’s environmental sanitation challenges could be exacerbated by the changing climate – in less than half a century, the country’s forest cover has depleted from seven million hectares to 1.3million.

Drastic measures are required for a sustained future.

The Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI) has set an ambitious goal of plant, nurture and grow 30million trees annually.

The existing trees will also need to be protected to halt the speed of deforestation.

Sector Minister, Mahama Ayariga, talks about the deployment of biogas technologies, especially in rural communities, to prevent tree felling for firewood and charcoal.

“It is now imperative because of the energy challenge that we have since biogas, when well managed, can also run generators to provide electricity,” he added.

The Ministry plans to present new regulations to parliament to compel the construction of bio-septic tanks in private housing facilities whilst all public schools are supported to generate their energy from biogas plants.

Many of the Earth’s ecosystems are nearing critical tipping points of depletion or irreversible change, pushed by high population growth and economic development.

“By 2050, if current consumption and production patterns remain the same and with a rising population expected to reach 9.6 billion, we will need three planets to sustain our ways of living and consumption,” said the UN Secretary-General.

The theme for this year’s celebrations, “Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care”, emphasizes that personal responsibility each one bears for enabling inclusive and sustainable economic development while stabilizing and reducing the rate of resource use.

“The annual World Environment Day reminds people across the globe that it is our personal choices that shape the world around us. Our daily decisions as consumers, multiplied by billions, have a colossal impact on the environment – some of them contribute to the further depletion of natural resources, others help to protect fragile ecosystems. Every time – the choice is ours,” said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme.

It is hoped that the WED serves as an opportunity for everyone to realize the responsibility to care for the Earth and to become agents of change.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

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