Environmental Management Policy on Oil and Gas in the offing

By
Lydia Kukua Asamoah, GNA

Accra, Dec. 11, GNA
– Civil Society activists have met to validate the new Environmental Management
Policy for the Oil and Gas Industry (EMPOGI) currently in the offing, intended
to ensure sound environmental management.     

The drafting of the
Policy, which is being led by the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology
and Innovation (MESTI), is being prepared and considered within the context of
sustainable development priorities, including achieving the objectives of the
anticipated long-term development plan, the National 40-year Development Plan
2017-2057.

The EMPOGI is being
designed to fulfil Ghana’s obligations under international agreements.    

Already, the EMPOGI
has been prepared with the active involvement and assistance of a wide range of
stakeholders who have contributed immensely to ensure its finalisation.

Often the
exploitation of oil and gas reserves is accompanied by some ecological side
effects such as oil spills, contaminated land, accidents and fires, and
incidents of air and water pollution, experts have indicated.     

Whereas in developed
countries, monitoring, evaluation and surveillance systems are more advanced
and resilient, the same cannot be said of developing countries particularly
those in Africa, including Ghana.    

In such contexts, it
is generally the poor and marginalised who are typically affected by the
adverse environmental impacts of oil and gas activities. In recent times the
social impacts of operations, especially in remote communities, has also
attracted attention.

The EMPOGI is,
therefore, being prepared to address the environmental challenges associated
with the nascent oil and gas industry.   

Mrs Levina Owusu,
the Chief Director of the MESTI, said Ghana’s experience with the exploitation
of natural resources like gold, diamond and bauxite had not been the best, but
fortunately, “oil has come quite late and that has given us the opportunity to
learn from our past mistakes and exploit it whilst maintaining the
environment”.   

She said Ghanaians
needed to link their fortunes to the fortunes of the environment because “when
the environment is impoverished, then the people are also impoverished”.

Mrs Owusu said the
MESTI was poised to ensuring that all activities done within the environment
did not impact negatively on it because “our very livelihood and survival is
based on the environment”.

She said the Policy
would be sent for further validation by the Parliamentary Select Committee on
Environment later in the year, and 
expressed optimism that the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) activists
would help fine-tune the policy, “which will guide the exploitation of oil and
gas without depleting the environment”.

I hope they would
bring their experiences and different background to bear on the validation of
the policy, she added.

Mr Samuel Dotse, the
Chief Executive Officer of HATOF Foundation, an environmental and sustainable
development Non-Governmental Organisation, who took the participants through
the draft EMPOGI, said every country faced a different set of constraints and
challenges in environmental management.

“That is why
effective national planning is the starting point for governance reform and for
the development of national strategies to accelerate progress towards
sustainable use of its natural resources”. 

He said MESTI,
therefore, collaborated with HATOF Foundation, to engage representatives of the
CSOs to review and to add up to the draft National Policy.  

He said the Policy
would ensure better coordination and collaboration among the implementation
agencies and would be promoted with MESTI as the lead organization, and by
establishing a multi-stakeholder platform through its Oil and Gas Unit.

Mr Dotse explained
that the Policy had identified a number of policy focus areas for addressing
environmental impacts of the oil and gas sector with each having specific
strategies and actions for addressing the challenges to achieve the desired
objectives.

As a next step
towards the implementation of this Policy, an implementation plan had been
developed to further elaborate in detail the policy focus areas, with specific
tasks, estimated budgets and timelines for implementation.

A Communication
Strategy would also be developed for intensive educational programmes to be
carried out to help relevant sectors and MMDAs to implement the policy and
undertake environmental education to inform the public and manage their
expectations.

On the basis of the
possible loss and damage to the environment and national development, the
Policy recommends that funding for the implementation plan for  the Environmental Management Policy for Oil
and Gas must come petroleum revenues.

This could be supplemented
by private industry and development partners, he said.

GNA

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