EPA, media to strengthen partnership on sound management of chemicals

Henry Kwabena Kokofu
Henry Kwabena Kokofu

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and journalists have resolved to renew their partnership on the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste (SMCW) in Ghana, in accordance with international agreements.

The EPA, as part of efforts to complement the implementation of international agreements, the strategic plans on chemicals and waste, and achieving the three dimensions of sustainable development – social, economic, and environmental – has developed a Communication Strategy to complement the implementation of the SMCW in the country.

The Strategy focuses on changing behaviours and attitudes towards the achievement of sound chemicals and waste management and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on environment.

It is targeted at policy makers, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), private sector entities that manage hazardous chemicals and waste, recyclers, as well as the public.

The EPA and some selected media practitioners, at a capacity-building workshop in Accra, resolved to build stronger partnerships in creating awareness and enhancing advocacy to prevent the negative impacts of chemicals and waste on human health and well-being of society as well as the environment.

Ghana has embarked on a number of initiatives including a 10-year Strategic Plan (2021-2030) to control hazardous chemicals and electronic waste, and developed a Five-Year Communication Strategy to complement the implementation of the Strategic Plan.

The workshop was, therefore, to introduce the media to some of the legally binding chemicals and waste-related environmental agreements and seek their input to the Communication Strategy to ease the implementation process.

Mr Henry Kwabena Kokofu, the Executive Director, EPA, said Ghana’s development agenda took into account strategies to achieving the 17 SDGs of which sound management of chemicals and waste formed an integral part, particularly Goal 12.4.

That Goal seeks to achieve an environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle in accordance with agreed international frameworks.

It also seeks to significantly reduce their release to the air, water and soil in order to minimise their adverse impacts on human health and the environment.

Mr Kokofu said the earth was facing a triple planetary crisis of climate change and the stability of global ecosystems upon which humanity depended was on course to collapse.

It was, therefore time for the global community to develop and implement strategies to prevent such a crisis, he said, and commended Ghana and Switzerland for proposing landmark amendments to the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention (BC COP-15), held in Geneva in June 2022, which were adopted.

“This is a bold decision, which not only protects vulnerable countries from unwanted imports of e-waste but also fosters their environmentally sound management and thus contributes to a circular economy,” he said.

Mr Kokofu said the integration of SMCW into the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was a major achievement and created a new impetus for chemicals and waste management.

He, therefore, said it was incumbent on Ghana to drive those agreements with expression to domesticate them in the forms of bills to Parliament to be passed into law.

He urged the media to be strong partners and advocates in the implementation process to ensure social mobilisation and behavioural change.

Dr Lawrencia Osae-Nyarko, a member of the drafting team of the Communication Strategy, said it had gone through a consultative process involving the relevant stakeholders whose input would help in changing behaviours towards the successful implementation of the SMCW.

Dr Sam Adu-Kumi, the National Focal Point on Chemical and Waste, Multinational Environmental Convention Ghana, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, reiterated that the global community was facing challenges due to climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution.

Human activity had contributed towards such a crisis and though chemicals were useful, their unsound management required all stakeholders, including governmental, NGOs, civil society organisations, and development partners to work together and adopt strategies to address the crisis, he said.

Professor Isaac Abeku Blankson, President, African University College of Communications, said the media had an essential role in educating the public at all levels, and that reinforcing collaboration was key to having effective management of chemical and waste to achieve sustainable development.

Modestus Fosu, Dean, Faculty of Integrated Communication Sciences, Ghana Institute of Journalism, said communication was an essential driver needed to ensure effective mainstreaming and implementation of SMCS and SDGs as envisioned by the nation.

Madam Agnes Boye-Doe, Chief Editor, Ghana News Agency, said the Agency had a designated desk for Science Reporting, and that its doors were opened for such partnerships to deepen education and awareness on the risk of exposure to hazardous chemicals, among other key issues of mutual interests.

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