Journalists and media practitioners from both print and electronic in the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis have received training on the environmental laws of the country.
The workshop was organised by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as part of its agenda to deepen the understanding of journalists on environmental laws to adequately educate the populace.
The participants were exposed to the Legal and Regulatory Framework, Standard Operations for Permitting as well as the Grievances Redress Mechanism established by the Agency to deal with complaints.
Mr. Kwadwo Okpoku-Mensah, a Deputy Director of the EPA took participants through the various environmental laws including; the EPA Act 1994 (Act 490) and the National Environmental Policy of Ghana.
According to him, environmental laws influenced the design and implementation in managing, protecting, and enhancing the country’s environment, hence the need to get people, especially the media to understand them.
Mr. Opoku-Mensah noted that the drive for development affected resources use, but intimated that it should be done sustainably and urged all to be mindful of their actions towards the environment.
He said the integrity and professionalism of all stakeholders were key to creating a better environmental management system, adding, “Whatever one does has consequences on the environment and stressed the need to always think about the environment”
“Our decisions may be indirect, but you may be contributing to environmental damage”, he said and reminded citizens of their constitutional obligation to protect and safeguard the environment.
Mr. Opoku-Mensah underscored the importance of the media and said the media’s attention and reportage on environment would go a long way to deepen people’s sense of understanding of issues relating to environmental governance.
On grievance redress mechanism of the Agency and he said its establishment was to ensure that concerns of clients were swiftly attended to.
“Environmental management comes with perspectives and each perspective will determine how you deal with it”, he said while calling for a multi-faceted approach in managing the environment.
Mr. George Diawuo, Acting Regional Director of the EPA described the media as an effective stakeholder in environmental governance and stressed that they played a crucial role in promoting responsible environmental practices among the citizenry.
In that regard, he said it was imperative that journalists armed themselves with the right information on the environment, to enable them to educate the public accordingly.
He said the workshop was also to deepen the collaboration between the media and court their support in addressing the environmental challenges of the country.
Mr. Hakeem Seidu, Senior Programmes Officer of the EPA took participants through the processes of issuing a permit to Small and Medium Scale Enterprises and the conditions that were required for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
Some of the journalists who spoke to the GNA after the training demanded the strict enforcement of environmental laws to reduce the negative health and economic impact.
“It looks like we have the laws adequate to address our environmental challenges. What we need is the political will to enforce them”, they said.