On Saturday 25th November the environmental committee kick-started cycle 12’s series of impact events. Titled Protect Our Planet, the event focused on illuminating a variety of environmental concerns here in Ghana, a topic that has long needed addressing. When turning to the statistics one is amazed at the dire environmental condition Ghana has found itself in. For example, of the 36,000 metric tons of plastic imported and manufactured in Ghana per year a measly 2% of it is recycled (in comparison to 63% and 62% in Austria and Germany respectively). A quick look at the streets of Accra will testify to these figures. This all came to a head in 2015 when a tragic flash flood triggered by a rubbish-filled drainage system resulted in the loss of 159 lives. Confronted with bleak figures such as this one cannot help but ask themselves “how do we even begin to tackle such an endemic issue?” During the event, a host of Ghana’s bright minds gathered to present their solutions to this pressing matter.
Whilst we have started on a rather morbid note it must be stressed the event was a positive success, emphasizing a message of hope rather than despair as is often the case when discussing the environment. One of the many shining stars at this event was Chineyenwa, an aspiring environmentalist who tackles the growing rubbish problem through the production of artistic works. Made of recycled waste these works illustrate a combination of her two passions: environmentalism and art. Yet, her efforts do not stop there. Taking the fight to environmental threats further she has been instrumental in establishing a Pan African waste management symposium and works with children aged 8-18 to educate them further on the problems facing the environment. From Chineyenwa we can learn that in order to impact environmental change we must act both at the higher and lower levels of society. After all, this is our planet to protect so why shouldn’t every individual be involved?
After speakers such as Chineyenwa, Richard Frimpong and Lovan Owusu-Takyi paved the way with a series of fascinating speeches. Speeches that not only highlighted the growing environmental concerns but went a step further to illustrate a number of solutions. It was time for a quick recess. Here a few businesses working on the Challenges’ programme put on an excellent spread of food. Special mention must go to Caris Gold who quenched everyone’s thirst with a delicious array of fruit juices. However, I digress.
With bellies filled and minds reinvigorated the event entered its final stage. The climax of this was a truly thought-provoking speech from keynote speaker Gideon Commey, founder of the Ghana Youth Environmental Movement. Focusing on environmental consciousness, Commey conveyed the perfect level of concern and hope, concluding that the current environmental situation could be utilised to stimulate growth in employment and technology. The applause he received after his speech was not only indicative of his own personal success but the success of the event the environmental impact committee strove so hard to bring together.
Overall the event was a major triumph which truly reflected the hard work of the individuals involved. Richard Frimpong, CEO of the waste management enterprise 21st Century initiatives, described the event as:
“A great and innovative way to address the environmental concerns we are facing, not just in Ghana, but across the globe.”
Not only was the event praised by external parties but internally as well. One of the invaluable coordinators of this event Ciara Farren described the day as an “overwhelming success”. Expressing particular thanks to the panel of speakers for their “inspiring and insightful talks” and to her team of fellow volunteers without whom the event would never have come together. On a personal note, I would like to thank the environmental committee for what can only be described as the perfect Saturday, which left environmental concerns in the forefront of my memory.
Written by Benjamin Stephenson,
Business Support Associate, Accra, Ghana – 2017