Environmental activism in Ghana has risen in the wake of environmental degradation such as illegal small scale mining (galamsey) and climate change, which has threatened food and water security.
World-renowned environmental activist, Gretha Thunberg, rose to fame through her activism and has led various revolutions to combat climate change.
As young people advocate environment conservation, the Executive Director of the Strategic Youth Network for Development, Chibeze Ezekiel, says building capacity should be the central focus rather than seeking fame.
“I will encourage young people to keep pushing and more importantly build their capacity and not be in a haste to be very popular or to be known. At this point, I think it is important to build capacity and see what we can also do in contribution to the specific [environmental] areas we are working on.”
Speaking at the 2nd anniversary of the Youth in Natural Resource and Environmental Governance (Y-NREG), on the theme “Sustaining the environment through youth-inclusion” Mr Chibeze commended Y-NREG for its efforts as it has been “recognized by some key state institutions particularly EPA and the Ministry of Environment”.
He added that given the fact that the Youth in Natural Resource and Environmental Governance is a platform of youth-led environmental groups and young environmental activists and “stretches around all the environmental sectors, we also want to have the same recognition [as seen in the climate change sector] in the other sectors such as Water and Sanitation, Forestry, Biodiversity, etc.”
Also, “We want to demonstrate that the young people have a stake in all of these respective areas. Our vision is that just as we are doing well in the climate change area, we will see other youth well-represented in the other areas”, the Goldman Prize Winner 2020 said.
In anticipation of the next actions of Y-NREG which is by SYND, it will be hosting a pre-COP26 webinar series to educate and engage various actors.
He chastised the government and National Youth Authority for not supporting young people in the environmental sector and called for proper coordination between agencies to promote youth inclusion in decision-making.
“Personally I will say that there hasn’t been any support for young people in the environment and I don’t know why that exists, especially when there are laid down instruments that states that young people matter when it comes to the decision-making process. So it is quite difficult to understand why government finds it difficult to provide support. From where I sit, I suspect it could be of lack of institutional coordination. Possibly, it is the role of the National Youth Authority to meet the various ministries and see how they can push the process, and I think that is not happening.”
The Climate Change Policy Team lead, Patience Agyekum and Communications team lead, Gifty Agbenyefia in their address listed some educational materials, workshops and campaigns undertaken by the Y-NREG to enhance climate change awareness. They entreated the youth not to relent in conserving the environment.
Citations of appreciation were presented to Chibeze Ezekiel, Evelyn Addo, Solomon Yamoah, UNDP, and Ampomaah Hotel, Forest Watch Ghana, French Embassy and World Bank.
Among the dignitaries present include the Ministry of Education, Green Generation Ghana and NAPPC and Y-NREG’s partners; World Bank Group, Forest Watch Ghana, UNDP and French Embassy.
The Strategic Youth Network for Development (SYND) was established in September 2008 with the aim of contributing to youth development interventions in Ghana.