The Youth in Natural Resource and Environmental Governance platform under the auspices of Strategic Youth Network for Development has launched its maiden edition of National Youth Conference on Natural Resource and Environmental Governance (NREG).
The conference held at British Council in Accra on April 27th hosted young people, CSOs, academia and other stakeholders on the theme ‘Promoting Effective Youth Participation in the Governance of the Natural Resources and Environmental Sector’.
The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, delivering the keynote address acknowledged that “we haven’t fully tapped into and unleashed the full potential of our youth” and advised that “educational institutions must find means of mainstreaming Natural Resources and Environmental Governance into their curricula”.
“Colleges and Universities must develop tailored programmes that train people in this area, and equip them with the necessary skill and knowledge to become stewards of our natural resources and environment”, he added.
Announcing this year’s edition of the Green Ghana Day, the Damongo legislator stated that it will be held on Friday, June 9, 2023, through which about 10 million trees will be planted. Commenting on the state of the country’s forest reserves, he said an update will be shared on May 2.
Calling for an inclusive approach to environmental governance, he applauded Strategic Youth Network for Development for initiating the process and called on stakeholders “to take active part in this exercise, to signify our commitment and willingness to engage in matters of Natural Resources and Environmental Governance. It will require the commitment and the cooperation of all of us, public officials, private sector actors, civil society organisations, the media, and more importantly, you, our youth”.
The Co-Chair of Ghana Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, Dr Steve Manteaw bemoaned the state of Ghana’s extractive sector as the exploitation of Ghana’s natural resources despite the reforms and policies is due to vested interest.
“Ghanaians only think about gold as the only mineral, but there are other ones like clay and salt in which we don’t consider. The exploitation of Ghana’s resources is done by foreigners. That’s what I’m sad about. We haven’t been able to realize the full potential of our natural resources,” he said.
Dr Manteaw advised young people to acquire specialized knowledge in the NRE sector regardless of their academic or professional background. Ford Foundation looked forward to “young people helping to initiate what the leaders have for us in the natural resources and environment sector”.
The Member of Parliament for the Madina Constituency, Francis-Xavier Sosu addressing the media accused the government of suffering from policy crises and urged Ghanaians to demand accountability for the promises and commitments it makes.
“The government is suffering from serious policy crises because for every promise that the government makes, the credibility of those promises all always questionable. There is a need for all of us to call for a right to climate change and have a more modern approach to dealing with issues having to do with climate change. Promises and commitments made by the government must be backed with actions,” he said.
The program hosted a panel discussion on ‘Youth involvement in activism and entrepreneurship’ with Justina Amoah, Maxwell Beganim, Christopher Gyan-Mensah, and Jennifer Kwakwa Sarpong. Also, presentations from SYND’s Energy Team lead, Priscilla Adogo Ahiada, and a member of Climate Change team Isabel Andam.