The Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) proclaimed 22nd May of every year to be celebrated as the International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) around the World. The day was selected to reflect the day of the final agreement on the text of the convention and the essence of the celebration was to increase awareness at the local, national and global levels of man’s dependence on nature and its resources.
The theme for the celebration this year is “We are part of the Solution,” which is a follow up from last year’s theme “Our Solutions are in Nature.”
Biological Diversity or biodiversity in short is the basis of sustenance of mankind on earth. In signing on to the Convention, Ghana committed to implementing all the Articles enshrined in the agreement. The CBD objectives hinge on the principle of conservation, sustainable use of biodiversity, and equity in the utilization of genetic resources and that the principles should guide Parties when considering Plans, Programmes and Projects with the potential to impact our biodiversity heritage. Parties are required to ensure adherence to sustainable development from an ecological, economic and socio-cultural viewpoint.
Ghana’s rich biodiversity comprises forests, wetlands (lakes and rivers), coastal and marine ecosystems, wildlife, aquatic life (notably fish stocks), as well as genetic resources. There is no gainsaying that the value of the Ghanaian biodiversity to the economy in terms of job creation, incomes for local communities, foreign exchange earnings through forest products exports as well as the ecosystem services it provides is huge and, cannot be easily quantified. The belief is that, the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity resources, can serve as a catalyst for growth and transformation of the national economy if it is given the necessary attention.
This year, the focus of the celebration in Ghana is on wetlands. The celebration would be used to highlight the need to employ nature-based solutions (with people at the centre) to protect wetlands which are under extreme threat from urbanisation and industrial development, encroachment, pollution, environmental degradation and the destruction of fish and wildlife habitats and ecosystems.
In coastal Ghana, there are over 100 lagoons, estuaries and wetlands which are rich in biodiversity. Due to their international importance as transit locations for migratory waterfowls, five (5) of these wetlands (Keta, Ada Songor, Sakumono, Densu Delta and Muni-Pomadze) have been designated as RAMSAR sites, in reference to the RAMSAR Convention of 1972, emphasizing the wise use of wetlands.
However, human activities, such as encroachment by residential and industrial development within and around these wetlands have become issues of national concern. This is particularly the case at the Densu delta and the Sakumono estuaries in Accra. There is evidence that other wetlands are also facing similar challenges.
Concerns for environmental degradation of the Keta lagoon spurred the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, with support from Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission to engage communities living off the resources of the Keta and Songor lagoons to advance the process of establishing the community wetlands working groups (CWWG), through conservation and restoration of mangroves under the project titled Promoting and Enhancing Sustainable Management of Wetland Resources for better Ecosystem Services and Resilient Livelihoods of Keta and Ada Coastal communities.
We cannot continue to look on while citizens encroach such areas and build on wetlands, causing flooding and wanton destruction of property and sometimes the loss of lives. We must enforce the laws. This means that Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) must formulate and implement appropriate polices; Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) must ensure enforcement and adherence to their bye-laws, ensure effective waste management and adherence to building regulations. It also requires that Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) must continue with awareness creation and community engagements as well as make inputs into government policies and programmes. Citizens must not use wetlands as dumping grounds. In other words, the expectations are for EVERYONE to play his or her role effectively and efficiently.
We are all part of the solution. Let us therefore get working, for our future depends on our ability to conserve and ensure the sustainable utilization of the resources God has endowed us.
We Are Part of The Solution #ForNature
MESTI Is Part of The Solution #ForNature
Ghana Is Part of The Solution #ForNature
HON. (DR) KWAKU AFRIYIE
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