By Godwill Arthur-Mensah, GNA
Accra, Jan.12, GNA – The International Association for Impact Assessment Ghana (IAIA-Ghana) has appealed to the Government to establish a National Environmental Governance Council to advise the President on natural resource, sanitation and environmental issues for the promotion of sound environmental governance.
Mr Yaw Amoyaw-Osei, the immediate past President of IAIA-Ghana, made the call at the Association’s end of year dinner and handing-over ceremony in Accra on Friday.
He said the proposed Environmental Council would advise the President on procedures and considerations into the Bauxite exploitation in the Atewa Mountains, Petroleum Development in the Volta Basin and other natural resources such as water, forest and minerals.
He lauded President Nana Akufo-Addo’s administration for the establishment of the Fiscal Council and the Fiscal Stability Council to consolidate the country’s financial management and asked the President to consider doing same for the natural resource sector for improved governance.
The IAIA-Ghana is the global body and network of experts and professionals in Environmental Impact Assessment established in 1998 to influence development financing and project implementation.
Membership of the Association is drawn from International Financial Institutions and Banks (World Bank, African Development Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development), academic, research institutions, government department, consultancy firms, civil society organisations and students.
The dinner and handing-over ceremony afforded the opportunity to members of the Association to fraternize, take stock and chart the way forward towards ensuring sustainable environmental governance.
It presented a plaque to the Media Coalition Against Galamsey for its advocacy against illegal mining, while certificates were presented to individuals and immediate past executives of IAIA-Ghana for their outstanding contributions towards sustainable environmental management.
The immediate past President of the Association said it is prudent that every project implemented must undergo impact assessment to understand the scope and nature of social, cultural, socio-economic, health and ecological cost and implications as well as the unanticipated regrettable repercussions on the environment.
In that regard, he said impact assessment would ensure that any intended development or investment action is subjected to thorough analysis to understand the potential implications for the social, economic and resources of any group of people likely to be affected.
That would ensure the necessary environmental safeguards be introduced to mitigate the impact of the project and ensure acceptable and environmentally sound and sustainable practices, he added.
Mr Amoyaw-Osei believed if the necessary impact assessment has been followed in the implementation of some major projects in the past, the nation wouldn’t have experienced fatalities and loss of lives in the Atomic gas explosion, road crashes on the Madina-Adentan road, and other man-made disasters, which occurred some parts of the country.
To stem the tide, he said the country’s bauxite reserves and other natural resource that would be exploited in the near future were done without compromising the environmental or ecological services of the area.
Mr Amoyaw-Osei also expressed concern about the huge capital flight occurring in the area of payment to large foreign environmental consultancies.
He urged local environmental consultancy firms to form consortiums to bid for projects to curtail the capital flight, while efforts were made to strengthen the local content laws to protect the interest of local consultants.
Mr Ebenezer Appah-Sampong, the incoming President of IAIA-Ghana, gave the assurance that his administration would strengthen the front of the Association to contribute towards policy reforms and formulation, particularly in environmental governance in the country.
He said his administration would witness the institutionalization of the Association and come out with newsletters that would contain various research work of the Association.
He commended the immediate past executives of the Association for their yeoman’s job in ensuring environmental issues were brought to the attention of policy-makers and front burner of national discourse.
Some environmentalists at the ceremony called for accreditation of all local environmental consultants so that they would be held responsible should they engaged in any unethical practices.