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A national consensus is needed to achieve MDG Seven – UNDP

Albert Oppong-Ansah

Ghana’s quest to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and, specifically target Seven ‘A’, could only be achieved through a concerted effort between the government and key stakeholders.

The MDG seven focuses on ensuring environmental sustainability with a specific target of increasing the proportion of land covered by forest.

Mr K. Edem Senanu, National Project Coordinator of the UNDP and Africa 2000 Network – Sustainable Rural Livelihoods Project, said the nation had not worked hard enough to achieve the objective of growing the nation’s forest cover from 32.7 per cent in 1990 to the intended target of 35 per cent in 2015.

He was speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency at a three-day workshop at Akosombo in the Eastern Region organized and funded by UNDP in collaboration with Youth Bridge Foundation (YBF), TV3 Network, Africa 2000 Network, Masem Foundation and Shear Power Ventures.

The workshop sought to build the capacity of the MDG Youth Ambassadors “who are finalists of the TV3 Ghana Most Beautiful pageant” on the MDGs and develop advocacy strategies for Ghana’s accelerated achievement of the targets.

The aim of the MDGs is to encourage development by improving social and economic conditions in the world’s poorest countries. The goals were derived from earlier international development targets and were officially established following the Millennium Summit in 2000.

He said the land cover of 20.8 per cent in 2007 dropped from the 1990 baseline and consequently ensuring this component of environmental sustainability could only be a reality by 2015 if all hands are brought on deck to work towards Goal Seven.

Mr Senanu said since 1990, the forest cover of the nation which was estimated at 7,448,000 hectares had reduced at an average rate of 1.8 per cent per annum to 5,517,000 hectares in 2005.

The report identified low institutional capacity for environmental management, low awareness on the effects of human activities on the environment and limited resources to implement reforestation as contributory factors to the current state of affairs.

He said the rate of decline of Ghana’s forests was serious and it was important to accelerate the rate of reforestation efforts.

Mr Senanu said over the years it had become evident that no single agency or organization including government could on its own tackle environmental challenges including bush burning and illegal felling of trees for timber which the nation is battling with.

“Currently the agencies mandated to protect the forest reserves do not have the logistical capacity to do this. We therefore need to whip up the enthusiasm of the various communities where there are forests and educate them on the harm as well as indicate and provide incentives for them to protect these forests. These efforts should also involve civil society organizations, related private sector actors and government so that together we can better manage our reserves”, he said.

Mr Senanu said the Civil Society for example could help build the capacity of people who depend on the forest with alternate income generating skills to enhance their livelihoods and to equip them with substantive alternative sources of living.

Several factors including commercial logging, fuel wood production and farming he noted explained why the country’s forest was being depleted with little consideration for the environmental damages being caused.

Clarifying why there was a need for a partnership to salvage the nation’s forest from total damage, he said the 2010 GMDGR reveals that the nation was not on course to achieve MDG target Seven ‘A’ in full, partly because the forest cover is continuously being depleted, and the impact on global warming is likely to be very high.

He called on government to work together with other stakeholders to integrate the principles of sustainable development into the country’s policies and programmes and to reverse the loss of environmental resources by 2015.

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