Discussants at a symposium to mark the 70th birthday of former President Jerry John Rawlings have advocated retooling of the Geological Services Department (GSD) to enable it to provide in a sustained manner reliable interventions in addressing the destruction illegal mining is causing to the environment and human lives.
The panellists also called for a strategic and non-partisan environmental governance framework as a measure to protect the country’s natural resources.
The symposium was held on the theme: “Protecting and Safeguarding the Natural Environment for Future Generations.” It discussed ways to sustainably manage the land and water resources of the country.
Speaking on the theme, a fellow of the Ghana Institution of Geoscientists, Dr Peter C. Acquah, said the time had come for an all-inclusive comprehensive national policy on biodiversity and environmental preservation.
He said the destructive nature of illegal mining must be looked at as a key national development challenge that had a multiplier effect, rather than a mere environmental issue.
“One of the devastating effects of ‘galamsey’ that we have all lost sight of is social dislocation. We need to have a foresight with regard to mining that would address issues of people who get dislodged as a result of mining activities,” he said.
He also stressed that given the high level of pollution along the country’s coastline, it was important that a coastal zone commission was established to ensure proper management of coastal resources.
Geological Service Department
Contributing to a discussion on small-scale mining, a lecturer at the University of Ghana, Professor Frank Nyame, supported a call made earlier for a reconditioning of the GSD to give it leverage in the way the country’s mineral resources were managed.
He said even though the country had good laws on environmental protection, the failure to implement and enforce the laws derailed efforts at protecting land and water resources.
He called for structures to be created at the metropolitan, municipal and district assembly levels that would allow communities to participate in the management of natural resources.
The Director of Water Resources at the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Prof. Osmund Ansa-Asare, said data collection was key to effective management of the environment.
To that effect, he said, the country ought to prioritise research into issues of the environment in a manner that promoted efficient management of natural resources.
The discussants also advocated reintroduction of civic education into first and second cycle institutions as means to promote education and create awareness of the need to protect the environment.