The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, has thrown his weight behind calls for active participation of youth in the management of the country’s natural resources and environmental (NRE) sector towards sustainable development.
He emphasised that the youths are the custodians of the natural resources and will bear the consequences of any depletion or degradation, hence must be involved in the management process.
“We recognise that if we are to build the Ghana we aspire for current and future generations, the youth must be at the centre. It is, therefore, of utmost importance that we actively engage the youth, tap into their creativity, unleash their energies, and find more effective ways of protecting our environment and natural resources,” he said.
“It is important to recognise the centrality of the natural resources and environmental sector to our socio-economic development,” he added.
The minister is confident that the youths will bring fresh perspectives to environmental and natural resource management and are more likely to embrace innovative and sustainable solutions.
Over the past years, exploitation of natural resources such gold and oil, among others, has helped to transform the country’s economy, with revenue contribution valued at about 67 percent of export receipts and 15.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). However, the cost of environmental degradation due to unsustainable use of land for agriculture, deforestation and mining stands at 2.8 percent of GDP.
It is believed that if the narrative remains unchanged, the country will see its natural resource base destroyed over the long-term, with fewer opportunities to sustain growth and shared prosperity.
To this end, Abu Jinapor said: “If we are to develop and prosper, we must efficiently and effectively manage these resources. And the active involvement of the youth, who are said to constitute about 36 percent of our national population, cannot be overemphasized”.
The minister said this in a keynote address at the maiden edition of the National Youth Conference on Natural Resources and Environmental Governance organised by the Strategic Youth Network for Development (SYND) at the British Council in Accra.
He took the opportunity to urge all and sundry to actively participate in this year’s edition of the Green Ghana Day, which will be held on Friday, June 9, 2023, where 10 million trees are expected to be planted in support of the government’s afforestation and reforestation programme.
The conference sought to empower young people to become active stakeholders in the governance of the country’s NRE sector as well as explore career pathways in NRE.
The deputy Resident Representative at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Sukhrob Khoshmukhamedov was also of the view that given the youthful population of the world, countries must utilise their potentials, positioning them as key players in decision-making at all levels of development.
Involving the youths, he said, will create a pathway for sustainable, relevant and realistic ways to manage key sectors duch the natural resources space.
“This is because today’s decision about the environment will inform the future the youths will be presented with,” he iterated.
The conference brought together youth from across the country and provided a platform for young green entrepreneurs to showcase their innovative climate and waste management solutions to attract partnerships and investments.
The Strategic Youth Network for Development (SYND) is a youth-oriented non-governmental organization which focuses primarily on contributing to good governance in the natural resources and environmental sector through active youth inclusion.