Today is ‘World Environment Day’. This is a day set aside by the United Nations to be celebrated annually on 5th June. It is the United Nations’ most important day for encouraging, worldwide awareness and action for the protection of the environment.
The theme for World Environment Day 2020 is, ‘Time for Nature,’ with a focus on its role in providing the essential infrastructure that supports life on Earth and human development.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ghana is marking this day with a message issued by Prof. Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, Minister for Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation, Ghana.
Find Message Below:
LET’S WORK TOGETHER TO PROTECT OUR BIODIVERSITY: OUR SURVIVAL DEPENDS ON NATURE
The United Nations has declared 5th June each year to be celebrated as World Environment Day, to enhance awareness, serve as the most renowned platform to accelerate, amplify and engage people, communities and governments around the world, and stimulate action on critical environmental challenges facing the planet.
The theme for this year’s celebrations is “Biodiversity”.
Biodiversity, is the variability within and between plants, animals and micro-organisms and the ecosystems that host them. These various life forms and the ecosystems, provide us with food, water, clean air, medicines and raw materials for our sustenance as well as providing for our spiritual/recreational needs. The theme therefore draw attention to the need to conserve, restore and ensure the sustainable use of our natural resources.
According to the recent Global Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the main drivers of biodiversity loss are land use changes, direct exploitation of natural resources, climate change, pollution and invasive alien species. This negative trend in biodiversity and ecosystems loss are expected to undermine the achievement of some targets of the Sustainable Development Goals. The Report also notes that 1 million plant and animal species face extinction, indicating that there has never been a more important time to focus on biodiversity than now.
The year 2020 is a critical year for nations to account for their commitments to conserve and restore biodiversity as it ends the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity (2011-2020) which sought to promote the implementation of a strategic plan on biodiversity and its overall vision of living in harmony with nature. 2020 is also a year for urgency, ambition and action to address the crisis facing nature and an opportunity to more fully incorporate nature-based solutions into global climate action. This year also provides an opportunity to ramp up to the start of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030), intended to massively scale up the restoration of degraded and destroyed ecosystems to fight the climate crisis and enhance food security, water supply and biodiversity.
On this day, we acknowledge the abundant natural resources Ghana is endowed with, which include about 5,429 plant species, 327 species of mammals, 794 bird species, 377 species of amphibians and reptiles and 925 species of butterflies. As a people, we depend on these resources for our livelihood and survival. We must therefore work assiduously to conserve, restore and sustainably utilise our biodiversity resources, in the spirit of sustainable development.
Government continues to institute several policy initiatives to mitigate the threats to biodiversity loss, including the development of the National Biodiversity Policy, the designation of 18 national wildlife protected areas (seven national parks, six resource reserves, four wildlife sanctuaries, and one strict nature reserve), the designation of 266 forests in most of the major ecological zones of the country as reserves and the establishment of the Community Resource Management Areas (CREMAS). There are also about 371 sacred groves across the country, which provide cultural services for local communities and tourists. These sites are preserved due to the significant roles they play in our cultural heritage. These sacred sites help to conserve significant biodiversity.
Despite all these efforts at protecting our biodiversity, there is still the need for more awareness creation on the relevance of biodiversity to our survival and socio-economic development as a nation.
When we destroy our biodiversity resources, we threaten our very existence. When we protect them, we protect ourselves and posterity. Let us therefore endeavor to restore our relationship with nature by taking steps to do the little we can, by planting trees on our compounds, strengthening the linkage between nature and our cultures, observing traditional laws and promoting traditional approaches to biodiversity conservation and restoration, and unite to improve the governance of natural resources by enhancing institutional capacity for the enforcement of regulations.
PROF. KWABENA FRIMPONG-BOATENG