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ESS 2023: Climate change and its impact on food systems and sustainable environment

The significance of addressing climate change and its effects on food systems has gained even greater importance over the years.

During the second edition of the Environmental Sustainability Summit on Tuesday (20 June) at the Alisa Hotel in Accra, Prof. Elvis Asare-Bediako, the Vice Chancellor at UnER, said the effects of climate change on food systems are expected to be widespread.

He added: “Climate change poses significant threats to human well-being, including food insecurity, water scarcity, flooding, infectious diseases, extreme heat, economic losses, and displacement.”

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), food systems encompass a wide range of interconnected activities involving various factors that contribute to the production, aggregation, processing, distribution, consumption, and disposal of food products originating from agriculture, forestry, or fisheries.

Prof. Asare-Bediako, however, added that “The interplay between climate change and food systems has significant implications across all dimensions of sustainable development.”

Panel discussion

At the event, panelists discussed and analysed the impact of pollution on waterbodies, soil fertility, and food sustainability, as well as its impact on the overall GDP growth of the economy.

Discussing ways to mitigate climate change, Michael Padi Tuwor, Director of the Accra Compost and Recycling Plant, advised citizens to solve some climate issues themselves by keeping and recycling plastics.

To address this critical issue, experts, including Mr. Caleb Mensah, a Lecturer at the University of Energy and Natural Resources, said, “Climate change is something that is affecting all parts of our lives, so we need to be worried and start taking action.”

“We need to start implementing the already existing policies in the country concerning environmental and climate change.”

On his part, Jamestown Chief Fisherman Nii Amarh Wulu said, it is important for citizens especially those in coastal areas, to be well informed about the causes and effects of climate change.

“When I take a ratio of 12 people, only 2 have heard of climate change, and the rest of the 10 haven’t. I am talking about my community, which is Odododiodo Jamestown, Gamashie.”

He added: “Just a handful of us have heard of climate change, so the others risk causing more damage to the climate.”

It is expected that the outcomes of the Summit will guide governments, businesses, and other stakeholders in implementing effective measures to combat climate change, protect the environment, and secure a sustainable future for the nation and region.

Climate change: A national concern

Mr. John Darko, Senior Lecturer at GIMPA Law School, said it is important to make climate issues a national one.

He also added that in order to push policymakers to deal with issues of climate change, politicians have to put them on the ballot.

According to him, the two strong political parties must share their positions on environmental and climate change issues.

Why environmental sustainability is crucial

Recent data and figures on Ghana’s environmental sustainability performance continue to look bleak despite the efforts of the government.

Ghana, according to the Global Forest Watch, has lost a total of 1.41 million hectares of tree cover from 2001 to 2021, equivalent to a 20 percent decrease in forest cover over the last twenty years and 740 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions.

The report also indicated that the country’s deforestation rate is high and concentrated in areas of high poverty, with land use changing from forests to agriculture lands and causing close to 92 percent of forest degradation.

Equally, data from the Ministry of Finance indicate that since 1900, Ghana has lost over 8 million hectares of forest cover, with almost one million hectares lost in the last few years.

Since 1960, the average annual mean temperature, according to the Finance Ministry, has increased by one degree Celsius; the average number of hot days has increased by about 13 percent, while the number of hot nights per year has increased by 20 percent.

In 2017 alone, the effects of environmental degradation in Ghana, according to the MoF, were estimated at US$6.3 billion.

Globally, an estimated loss of over 10 million hectares of tropical forests was recorded in 2020 alone.

 

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