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Prez Leads Forest Degradation Fight … Says Success Of Tackling Climate Change Critical

Published in politics Friday, 20 October 2017 08:04

By Frank Amponsah

 

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has noted that Climate Change is the biggest threat to the achievement of the SDGs, and is fast becoming a developmental issue of grave concern to most leaders across the world; hence the reason for the country to fight deforestation and degradation which are critical to addressing climate change.

 

He indicated that Climate Change impacts on the fundamentals required for the survival of humanity on earth, the rise in sea levels, severe and extreme weather conditions, such as droughts, floods and erratic rainfall patterns.

He maintained that the discussions on Climate Change should be centered across the world with nations having committed to tackling it by “reducing the current global temperature to a 2 degrees Celsius minimum, well below pre-industrial levels, and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.”

The President was speaking at the 2nd National REDD+ Forum organized by the Forestry Commission, on the theme “Strengthening Law Enforcement for Effective REDD+ Implementation,” where he averred that agenda 2030, which is the target date for the completion of the SDGs, presents Ghana with the great opportunity to fight inequality on all fronts, wipe out extreme poverty, tackle the issues of climate change, and reverse the degradation and unsustainable use of our environmental resources.

This Agenda, he noted, is an investment in the future of the youth and children. “We are obliged to leave them with an enduring legacy of a richer, more stable, more secure and more peaceful world. Though ambitious, all countries recognize the need to achieve this target. In accordance with the 2015 Paris Agreement, countries have submitted their Nationally Determined Contributions to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) towards achieving this goal of global temperature decline. These contributions are aimed at reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases, and ensuring also that sustainable development is not compromised, particularly in developing countries.”

He therefore maintained that the fight against deforestation and forest degradation is critical to Ghana’s successes of tackling Climate Change.

With Climate Change being, perhaps, the biggest threat to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, President Akufo-Addo noted that it is fast becoming a developmental issue of grave concern to most leaders across the world.

It is for this reason, the President added, that signatories to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have initiated the process of reducing considerably greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and also encourage tree planting.

The President reiterated the commitment of his government towards every action that prevents forest degradation and deforestation, and also increases the country’s forest cover.

He said: “Our fight against the illegal mining phenomenon, also known as galamsey, is a case in point. In the 2016 Manifesto of my party, the New Patriotic Party, we indicated strongly our commitment to reforestation, forest rehabilitation and forest protection activities, realizing that forest cover has been depleted significantly in the last two decades.”

He continued, “We intend to undertake massive forest plantations, with both indigenous and exotic tree species, and also develop the bamboo and rattan industry, as they would serve as effective substitutes for furniture and other wood products.”

President Akufo-Addo urged farmers and local community not to allow illegal logging and mining to continue, and charged Security agencies on the roads, ports and borders not look on unconcerned and allow illegal timber products just to pass without confiscation or with corrupt purpose.

“Most importantly, the Forestry Commission should strengthen its law enforcement measures to curb illegal logging, mining and unsustainable harvesting of forest products. To our students gathered here, I urge you to inculcate the habit of tree planting and conservation. As you do this, you begin to build a generation that is more sensitive to issues of environmental conservation,” he added.

To media houses and other civil society actors, the President noted that “your work on advocacy is critical to keep all of us on our toes. Do not relent in your efforts, and deepen even further your knowledge on environmental issues and their reporting.”

President Akufo-Addo urged the Chief Justice and members of the Judiciary, to ensure that the fines and punishments that are pronounced on perpetrators of illegal forest activities are deterrent enough, and quickly delivered and effected.

For her part, the Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo said she would ensure speedy trial of culprits who break the law in the act of deforestation to serve as a deterrent for would-be law breakers.

She indicated that the program which fall within her direct purview as the Chief Justice of Ghana seeks to sensitize and create awareness of the importance of law enforcement of forest governance, and said she consider it as a key component in the management of forest and wildlife estate.

She also averred that there are several illegal activities taking place in the forest and reserves, where perpetrators continue to carry out these activities irrespective of government interventions, hence there is the resolve to enforce the laws on forest illegalities.

The Chief Justice also said as part of efforts to accelerate the fight against all these illegalities, government has constituted designated specialized courts for cases of illegal mining, but lots is needed to be done in the fight against deforestation, environmental degradation and forest destruction and threats.

She also reiterated that a strong enforcement regime is critical for REDD+program to succeed where there must be strong punitive measures in place, and implore all to contribute to the achievement REDD+.

She said the Judiciary will build on all relevant interests to ensure that the program succeeds

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