Tuesday, November 24, 2015

“Young People to become agents of change” – Forestry Commission

ACCRA, 18 Nov (AIF SHOW, E.K.Bensah)-Mr. Yaw Kwakye of the Climate Change Unit at the Forestry Commission says he wants young people “to become agents of change” on climate change. Speaking in an exclusive interview with Africa in Focus Show recently, the Head of Climate Change said that to this end, a campaign, dubbed “REDD-eye” would be launched on 21 November at the headquarters as part of activities to sensitize the youth to become involved in fighting climate change.

Although the Forestry Commission has a mandate to protect resources of the country, and ensure posterity is left with, as Kwakye put it, “better forest endowment than we inherited”, they have spent an inordinate amount of time working on climate change – specifically REDD+.  An acronym for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, with the + representing activities that offer co-benefits such as biodiversity conservation, sustainable forest management and carbon stocks enhancement, REDD+ is an activity whose successful implementation will help reduce the impacts of climate change in developing countries like Ghana.

Yaw Kwakye believes forests are of immense benefits, and have both tangible and intangible benefits. The tangible ones include timber and timber products, with the intangible ones representing the wildlife, which provides an important “component of our food (protein), particularly for our forest-dependent communities”, he added. The problem, he went on, has been an over-harvesting of wildlife “to such an extent [they have been] unable to sustain wildlife population because of over-hunting.”

According to the Forestry Commission official, “the forest provides protection for water heads, which form sources of various important rivers in this country, including Atiwa Forest”, which serves 75 percent of the Greater Accra region.

Pressed on some of the planned activities, Mr.Kwakye said that there would be two major activities: the first is the “REDD Eye” Campaign. The other is the First National REDD+ Forum, which will be held on 25 November.

Under the auspices of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, the Climate Change Unit will together with the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology & Innovation (MESTI), launch the REDD Eye campaign.  The idea of these two activities is to sell and secure buy-in for the REDD+ mechanisms from Ghanaians.

Scheduled for Saturday, 21 November, the objective of the campaign is to create awareness among the youth, who are considered future leaders of Ghana. By targeting them early, the Commission believes they can be sensitized to plant and nurture trees as one of the ways to mitigate climate change. Those invited included second-cycle schools and youth groups across the country. There will be presentations from youthful resource people on a number of climate change-related issues, including the impacts of it on Ghana; impacts of deforestation and forest degradation in Ghana; and an overview of REDD+ and Ghana's Emission Reduction programme.

There will ultimately be “REDD EYE” Clubs established in various schools, where sensitization, tree-planting and other REDD+ activities will be implemented to assist in the fight against climate change. There will also be a nation-wide campaign in all ten regions, which purpose would be to sensitize the youth on climate change.

The second most important activity is that of the first-ever National REDD+ Forum, which is organized by the National REDD+ Secretariat of the Forestry Commission, which aim is to climax activities to sensitize Ghanaians and obtain buy-in for the REDD+ mechanism
Planned for 25 November at the Accra International Conference Centre, the theme for the event is “Conserving our Forests for Better Lives and a Better Climate”.

On the bill as keynote speaker is Ghana's former president and the UN Special Envoy for Climate Change H.E. John Agyeman Kuffuor. The Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission, Mr.Samuel Afari Dartey, will launch Ghana's National REDD+ Strategy, while Mr. Ishmael Yamson, Chairman of Unilever Ghana, will chair the event.

Some of the topics for discussion include “REDD+, the State of Play”; “National Efforts to Combat Climate Change”; the role of the private sector in addressing climate change; and mobilizing climate finance in Ghana. An interactive session will follow the presentations, where participants will obtain the opportunity to ask questions to resource people. There will also be an exhibition by REDD+ actors as a side event, including musical performances by Climate Change Ambassadors Okyeame Kwame and MUSIGA President Bice Osei Kuffuor (Obuor).

The event is open to the public, and Mr. Yaw Kwakye wants people to “think development; think sustainability; think REDD+!”


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