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5th African regional meeting on the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management(SAICM) Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, February 2018

IMG-20180206-WA0001[1]The regional meeting on Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) took place in Abidjan with the following objectives; to review the progress of implementation of the Strategic Approach within the region, to enable technical and strategic discussions and exchange of information to take place, to discuss the emerging policy issues and to strengthen and prioritize national chemicals management capacities
GAYO as a stakeholder of the environment was invited to participate and contribute in helping Africa reach a resolution for the second intercessional meeting which comes off in March in Stockholm this year. GAYO has worked with diverse forms of waste including electronic and plastic waste, putting the organization in a position to contribute to issues of national and international interest concerning chemicals and waste.
Key issues discussed were the reports from countries that piloted the Special Programme, reports from civil society groups and other bodies such as the World Health Organization (WHO), UNITAR and the Africa Institute.
The Special Programme aims to strengthen national institutions and to promote the mainstreaming of the sound management of chemicals and waste. With respect to this Special Programme report, Kenya chopped success on a second attempt and shared their experiences through the programme. One thing worth noting is that after a failed attempt, the country resorted to self-fund 75% of the budget for the programme while reducing administrative cost to below 5% during their second attempt. This helped to ensure almost all monies meant for the programme went into the implementation and execution.
SAICM
The case in Ghana is different. According to Dr. Sam Adu-Kumi, the country could not succeed after two major attempts which are largely attributable to limited capacity of the staff. Ghana took a decision to carry out the programme without foreign involvement because it is supposed to be a country-driven programme however, the programme failed in all two attempts due to lack of technical expertise and weak institutional capacity to coordinate the implementation of policies, strategies, and national programmes for Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste (SMCW). He therefore encouraged the secretariat to increase financial support to member states aiming at capacity building as well as making the funding processes flexible well enough to help them actively participate in carrying out programmes and projects towards SMCW. fbk
Some emerging issues included Lead in paint, nanotechnologies and naomaterials, Chemicals in products, Hazardous substances within the life cycle of electrical and electronic products (E-waste) and managing perfluorinated chemicals and the transition to safer alternatives.
Another important thing is that, SAICM has a deadline of the year 2020 but so many of the objectives have not being met so, stakeholders sort to know what have been the major challenges and the way forward?
So many issues were discussed which border on the fact that there is a funding gap that restricts access and creates unevenness due to disparities in capacity by stakeholders to effectively carry out SAICM programmes, there is also a weak structure of SAICM especially at the national level which needs to be restructured and strengthened, SAICM has been a voluntary body and this voluntary nature of SAICM makes it difficult to hold member countries responsible for not undertaking its objectives and again, it is too soon to make SAICM a legal binding body without enough resources to enable members to comply.
Therefore, it was recommended among other things that it is time to focus on institutional strengthening of governments’ ability to manage chemicals and waste, to effectively implement enforceable legislations, to ensure integration across sectors and industries and to promote equality across countries where there can be common standards and easy transfer of technologies.

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Development can never be Sustained

I am an optimist but that does not make me overlook reality. I was quizzed whether I agree with the statement; “Development can never be sustained” and after thinking for minutes, I have this to say; Development is defined by the business dictionary as the process of social and economic transformation that is based on complex and environmental factors and their interactions. Sustainability on the other hand is the act of using resources in a way that grantee their continuous availability. Sustainable development therefore refers to the principle of meeting human development goals for the current generation whilst at the same time not compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs. This principle produces a society whereby living conditions and resources use continue to meet human needs without undermining the integrity and stability of the natural systems.

In Ghana, development can never be sustainable until we develop a lasting solution to our socioeconomic and environmental challenges, this is because sustainable development is directly linked and inter-connected with environmental protection, social development and economic development and since it is not possible to sustain these indicators it means development can never be sustainable.
Economic development is not sustainable because resources used are not always completely replaced with time, therefore any positive rate of exploitation eventually leads to the exhaustion of the earth’s finite stock. More so social and environmental sustainability is not realistic because the total land size gradually reduces as humans continue to expand cities and practice agriculture. In Ghana, one could think of the issues of small scale mining, poor agricultural practices, plastic pollution and poor governance as significant obstacles that continues to paint the future unpleasant.
Land degradation is a major challenge in Ghana that has drawn the attention of both local and national stakeholders and yet there has not been a workable solution to it. In Ghana, the major causes of land degradation is small scale mining popularly called galamsey. There has been several destruction to virgin forests, farm lands, fresh water bodies and many other vegetation.

For development to be sustained, these lost lands need to be refilled and re-vegetated, the water bodies need to be cleansed and the soil remediated or at worse the activities need to be stopped so that the environment can recover with time, but this is not a possibility as galamsey has become the single most available and cheapest economic activity for the young people in Ghana. Even though the current minister for lands and natural resources has intensified government efforts to fighting forest degradation and reclaiming lost farm lands to improve cocoa productivity, it is regrettable to hear allegations that politicians and highly influential individuals are deeply involved directly and indirectly in the galamsey activities which hinders the progress of this fight.

Another issue has to do with poor waste management especially in the cities. In Ghana, waste in any form or kind is not properly handled or disposed and this has serious implication on sustainable development. Solid wastes of various grades are disposed indiscriminately on lands which otherwise could have being useful. Liquid wastes such as sewage is disposed wrongly causing illnesses such as cholera and malaria which makes government expenditure in health care high. One major contributor to this is uncontrolled population growth which puts pressure on the natural environment. As a result there are limited government subsidies to accelerate the adoption of less polluting technologies by industries.
What is possible is that, more technologies are being explored and researched into and this will provide alternative livelihoods that will substitute and extend the life span of natural resources or help discover greener ways of extracting resources and all this could add to making sustainable development a reality. To conclude, development can never be sustained until populations are controlled, lifestyles changed and environmental protection becomes a concern for every one.

Desmond Alugnoa, GAYO.

SUSTAINABILITY AND PRAGMATISM

Carrying capacity is the maximum number of people the Earth can hold without causing environmental degradation. I believe this was coined with the assumption that “ALL HUMANS ARE SUSTAINABILITY INCLINE” but the way most humans are handling the environment nowadays, we don’t need to reach the carrying capacity before environmental degradation occurs.

Many nations are concern with maintaining the balance between resource use, population and environment but it seems to me that is just word of mouth because actions remain the same in most places. We need to go beyond this and be pragmatic in our approaches which mean working to close the gap between armchair theory and practice.fbkk

I often say that Issues of environment and development are political hence our success in sustaining the environment depends on how the solution addresses questions of control, power, and self-determination in the social engagement with nature. “The planet is not a machine to be controlled by privileged super-mechanics but by those passionate about environmental housekeeping” so come out and put to test your idea or join force and build a momentum with others with similar minds to make the world a better place.fbk,

The Below50 Initiative

Last month, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) launched below50 initiative hubs in North America, South America and Australia, to create much bigger demand and markets for sustainable fuels. Below50 is a global collaboration that brings together the entire value-chain for sustainable fuels, that is, fuels that produce at least 50% less CO2 emissions than conventional fossil fuels.
We believe these are the policy innovations and new ways of collaborations that could put the world on track to achieve the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement. We need clear national and local action plans that encourage the masses to be climate sensitive; this is especially needed to guide attitudes in the global south where overcoming poverty is still the top priority of most countries.

What we need to acknowledge is the relationship between environmental quality and other global goals such as health.

A better environment goes beyond protecting ecosystems and human health, it plays a significant role in strengthening our economy too.

Green Development

The central goal of the Paris Agreement is to keep the average global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius and as close as possible to 1.5 degrees. About one degree of that rise has already happened, underlining the urgency to progress much further and faster with the global clean energy transformation. Off course, this is also tired to the success of the 2030 Agenda’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, especially goal 9: to build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation. To pursue this inclusively, the global south will need to actively involve its informal economy as well as add value to some of its primary products.

World Climate Event in Cape Coast

Green Africa Youth Organization  took the World Climate Simulation to Cape Coast. The event in the University of Cape Coast brought together exceptional environmental science students, scientists, and also visiting students from Norway, Sweden, and Denmark who were under Kultierstudier programme in the university.

The event commenced with a brief education on climate change (science, impacts, and solutions) by Joshua Amponsem who co-facilitated the event with Benson Adjei and Laura Periera (PhD). Benson Adjei, introduced world climate event to the audience and from facial expressions wed could see a promising negotiations ahead of us.

There were about 100 participants who were grouped into the 6 geographic blocs while designating 10 people as Press Corps and 12 people under the Climate Activist bloc.  Briefing notes and were given to all blocs and the NDC form was given to the 6 regions.

Laura, a visiting lecturer from South Africa, simulated as the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC. She gave a wonderful speech to open the first round of Negotiations. The 6 regions had about 15 mins to digest their briefings and make their commitments known to the house through the proposal form.

After submitting their NDCs (proposal), C-ROADS was launched and the submitted data was inserted. Surprisingly, delegates from Other Developing countries exhibited high demand for funds (requesting for $70b per year) while also demonstrating a good willingness to act on climate (committing fully to REDD = 1). Other Developed countries also amazed us with their strong proposal of 8% fractional rate of decline per year while commuting fully to REDD and Afforestation (=1).

Putting all the data together, we reached a global warming of 2.7degC. Although not our desirable target, the reach was much better than our previous event in Kumasi – where we reached 4degC after the first round of negotiation.

To open the most exiting part of our event (2nd round of negotiations), the Executive Secretary of UNFCCC – Laura, urged all delegates to make their best commitments to reach a 1.5degC or maximum 2.0degC. “You need to make better commitments to protect our agricultural systems and for human survival.”

To spur a greater negotiation, the UN Secretary General – Joshua Amponsem, said “Climate Change will affect everything we love as humans but more importantly, our food, water, and the air we breath. As leaders, you have a one time opportunity to make a change that will save our future. Planet Earth depends on you.”

On this note, negotiations begun and the first bloc to make a move was the Climate Activists. They had delegates advising and pressuring China, EU, and US to increase their financial contributions while limiting their CO2 emission growth. EU and the other developed nations seemed to have gotten along very easily as they both exerted pressure on Developing countries, China & India to increase their afforestation from 0.2, 0.6, and 0.7 respectively, to 1.

Following that, there was a sudden fierce argument over the EU bloc. Notes from the press corps indicate that EU was only willing to contribute significantly to the Global Fund if China gives above 20% of the targeted fund and if US contribute up to 50% to the fund. Successfully, there was peaceful negotiations between the Other Developed countries and the US.

Additionally, India and Other developing countries formed a union of friendship. They presented a joint proposal to US and China. China agreed to the proposal and gave $20b to the global fund. EU also agreed to their proposal and acknowledged their responsibility – EU contributed $30b to the fund and a 5% fractional rate of decline while starting their decline at 2060 instead of their earlier 2080. However, activists spoke against that and the EU decides to stop emission growth at 2030 while starting decline at 2035.

India seemed very ambitious and US was willing to give money rather than reducing their emissions. After about 50 minutes, all the countries submitted their terms and commitments. It was really difficult to put an end to the negotiations as many delegates were still engaging their colleagues in other terms and deals. It was really amazing to see the reaction of some of our participants from Europe who were representing India and other developing countries.

After feeding the proposals to C-ROADS, we reached a 2.4degC. Joshua Amponsem and Natasha Verco reiterated the impact of global warming and why it is necessary to reach a 2degC. With that, delegates from Other Developed nations and those from Other Developing countries swiftly opted to strengthen their commitment. They both increased their fractional decline rate to 10% per year and also decided to stop their emission growth at 2030 while they both committed fully to REDD and afforestation.

After these changes, our global warming decreased to 2.2degC. The room was full of suspension as everyone looked up to US to make a change. However, delegates from India and Other Developing Countries united to put up a proposal to China. They proposed that China increase their fractional rate of decline to 12% and US to move their REDD and afforestation effort to 1. US agrees to that but China only agreed to 10% instead of 12%.

Like magic, we reached 2degC with these changes. The house gave marvelous applauds to delegates who pushed for the changes that made it possible for us to achieve our target.

Participants gave their feedback (see below) during the debrief.

Emmanuel Marfo: “It is really enlightening to experience this event and I’ll be looking forward to participate in such events.”

Anonymous: “This is a nice conference and my first time to such an exposure. I already feel like Prez. Obama. Its great to have such a taste of decision making. I appreciate it and I think more if this should be happening on campuses.”

Sylvester Osei:  “Developing countries had a tone of vulnerability and needed help. I think this is good because we are not the future leaders; we are the present leaders and very soon we might be taking similar roles at the international levels. So thank you organizers for bringing this training and I hope we will be ambassadors for Climate Change.”

Mm Hasana: “The event is so practical and we have been exposed to climate negotiations & we’ve also had the chance to appreciate what delegates know what happens at the international level. As youth, we have been given an opportunity to be part of decision making and also to take up leadership role in environmental issues.” She added, “Climate Change is realistic lets try and do in our own capacity the very little we can do to make this 2degC realistic. It starts from us and we should take up the challenge.”

Lovisa: “It was a perfect experience. We enjoyed discussing with each other – it was fun to be in debates with other countries and see what they are up to.”

SPECIAL INVITATION TO POWER SHIFT 2016

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Hello everyone,

Our planet is dying and #ClimateChange is affecting the air we breath, the water we drink and the food we eat, right here in Ghana. Rainfall patterns keep changing and our farmers are at risk of loosing their yield to drought. Our pathetic environmental stewardship has led to the destruction of major and important natural resources that are crucial to our existence – water and arable lands.

Is this the country and world we are building for our children, and our children’s children? I guess NOT.

Without quality air, water and food, we cannot achieve any of the global goals. Poverty, Hunger, Diseases, Injustice and Conflict will reign, if we sit quietly and watch.

I specially invite you to Power Shift 2016. Kindly follow the link below to attend the event and note it on your calendar automatically. https://web.facebook.com/events/932545493510114/

Join us on May 14th @ the college of engineering auditorium – Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.

Lets meet @ Power Shift 2016. See you.

#PowerShiftGh