Strong institutional collaborations, policies needed to tackle plastic menace – panellists


The best approach to addressing the issues of plastics affecting the environment can best be done through strong institutional collaborations and policies, panellists at the Sustainable Ocean Business in Ghana conference have said.

The panellists included Lecturer at the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA) Abena Asomaning Antwi; Head of Environment and Climate-UNDP Ghana, Stephen Kansuk; and Lecturer at University of Ghana-Legon, Andrews Agyekumhene, who all believe the current fight to save the environment from being swallowed by plastics demands all hands on deck.

According to them, institutions must work in unison to develop practical steps that collaboratively advance sustainable business practices and safeguard the ocean’s capacity to serve society’s many varied needs.

“We need institutional collaborations. Most of the institutions are working in silos. They do not know what they are doing. So there is always a likelihood that we are reinventing the wheel. But if we have all the institutions talking to each other, you realise that we have a common goal. You bring in your effort, I bring in my efforts and the push will be massive. But if I want to do everything by myself, I can only do a few. And so if we are able to synergise our efforts and come together and get institutions talking, then it will go a very long way to promote the sustainability that we want.

“In Ghana, one thing we have realised is that inadequate implementation of laws is what’s killing us. So for us to be able to promote a healthy environment, we need our institutions to work; and we need them to be able to implement laws without fear or favour. Again, to effectively implement legislation, you need to resource the implementers by way of logistics and then capacity building,” Dr. Agyekumhene said.

He said a big impediment in terms of achieving a sustainable environment is policymakers neglecting researches which are backed by science. He added that it is time they started listening to academia by using researches conducted to help direct them in implementation of the policies.

For her part, Lecturer at UPSA, Abena Asomaning Antwi, said it is important everyone sees the issues of plastics taking over the seashores as a great challenge that can go a long way to affect society. She believes that the burden of solving the plastics menace should be a shared responsibility and not government’s alone.

To Mr. Kansuk, aside from collaboration of the various institutions, there is also a need to have strong policies and legal frameworks that dare to punish offenders. He said banks must begin to invest into young businesses that are turning plastics into other products, to help improve and increase the rate at which it is done. He believes making right investments into sustainable ocean business not only avoids damage, but it also makes everyone’s life better.

The Executive Director of UN Global Compact Network Ghana, Tolu Lacroix, also indicated that it has become very important to be better managers of marine resources and protect them better. He added that it is highly critical that all stakeholder come onboard to protect the ocean against plastics.

Speaking on the conference’s importance, he mentioned that some international organisations have developed an interest in funding some Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) projects in Ghana; therefore, it is important to bring highlights to some of the issues through conferences.

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