Mrs Sherry Ayittey, Minister of the Environment, Science and Technology, at the weekend underscored the need for a sustainable oil sector that would not compromise the nation’s environment.
She said the Environmental Protection Agency was collaborating effectively with the Ministry of Energy to ensure that the best practices were applied by operators in the sector to ensure sustainable development.
Mrs Ayittey made the call when she spoke on the State of the Environment in Ghana and the Role of Women in Nation Building, at a durbar to climax activities commemorating the 10th Anniversary Celebration of Obonu FM in Tema on the theme: “Our Culture, Our Development.”
She said government had rolled out a number of capacity-building programmes to enable Ghanaians to participate in the expatriate-dominated oil and gas sector by making scholarships available to students to study oil and gas-related subjects.
Mrs Ayittey said that the Ministry of Energy and its related agencies were developing a land use planning scheme for the Western Region to ensure efficient and sustainable use of land.
She said: “Other sector Ministries such as the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, are working assiduously to streamline land acquisition processes and to ensure transparency and sustainable land administration.”
Mrs Ayittey said that the nation would be making progress towards environmental sustainability, if collectively, Ghanaians took steps to address issues that impacted negatively on the environment.
Mrs Ayittey said that to effectively implement environmental policies, there should be improved coherence between sectoral government policies, improved law enforcement, enhanced capacity, especially at the decentralized levels, to implement policies.
The Minister said that out of the 8.3 million hectares of high forest in the country in the early 1900s, only 1.6 million hectares remained, adding that forest cover declined at an average rate of 1.7 per cent between 1990 and 2005, which amounts to about 70,000 hectares annually.
She said the underlying causes were the expansion of land for plantations (especially cocoa, rubber, coffee, and palm oil), as well as logging, most of which were illegal, besides firewood exploitation and forest fires.
Mrs Ayittey said the situation had brought about the fragmentation of Ghana’s forest landscape, loss of wildlife corridors, and forest connectivity: degradation of biodiversity and the ecosystem.
She gave the assurance that Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology was collaborating with the Ministry of Lands and Forestry to replant lost forest cover and also guard the existing ones, to avert this worrying trend.
Mrs Ayittey said regulations and mining Laws were currently under review to ensure better environmental stewardship, as well as improve the human rights situation in the mining communities.
On the role of women in nation building, the Minister said the relevant policies for women’s economic empowerment needed to be strengthened, to help address inequalities affecting women and girls at all levels as regards access to education, age, poverty, geographical location, language, ethnicity and disability among others.
She also stressed the need to ensure that women and girls also had full and equal access to quality formal, informal, and non-formal education and vocational training at all levels.
Mrs Ayittey called for increase in the enrolment and retention rates of girls in schools, by ensuring that sufficient budgetary allocation was made to education authorities to effectively execute this mandate.
Mr Kwabena Sarpong Anane, Acting Director-General of the Ghana Broadcasting (GBC), commended the staff of Obonu, a branch of the GBC, for exhibiting a high sense of commitment and devotion to duty thus placing the station at an enviable position on the radio stations’ league table in the Greater Accra Region.
Mr Anane, however, charged them to be extra innovative in their presentations, in order to stay in competition with sister FM stations.
The Acting Director-General paid glowing tribute to the founding fathers of Obonu FM for their foresight, sacrifice, devotion and dedication to duty, and urged the current staff to sustain the achievement.
He cautioned the staff not to copy the unprofessional practices going on in some stations.
Mr Anane assured the workers of management’s determination to provide the needed logistics for the station to function effectively.
The Acting Director-General appealed to the various companies in the Region, traditional leaders, and listeners of Obonu, to support and partner it to improve the station’s operations.
Mr George Adu-Boampong, Regional Director of Obonu FM, said as the station took advantage of new technologies to enhance its performance, Obonu’s numerous listeners should communicate with it through the new media, namely, face book, twitter, text messaging and other internet and telephone-based facilities.
Mr Emmanuel Adzei Anang, Member of the Council of State, urged the people of Ga-Dangme to revive the Ga-Dangme language, which in his view, was gradually fading off, so as to bequeath a legacy to the youth.
Mr Anang called on the chiefs to stop chieftaincy litigations and petty squabbles that were causing disunity among the people.