The best birthday present for Mother Earth
Edmund Smith-Asante The Independent - Accra mayo 2002
Birthdays are special periods of celebration in the lives of homo sapiens all across the world, during which presents are presented to the celebrant. Though the earth was well in existence before any human being living was born, she also takes her turn to celebrate her day; and so just as presents are given out to friends and family members who mark their birthdays, mother earth needs a befitting present from all.
A conscious effort to keep our environment clean, making sure our ecosystem is not destroyed, preventing depletion of our forests and preventing extinction of some rare species of endangered flora and fauna among others, would all be gifts that mother earth would definitely cherish on her day.
Fixed for June 5th and 17th every year by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), are World Environment Day and the World Day to Combat Drought and Desertification which are all geared towards making man aware of the scourge of environmental degradation and thus use nature's resources responsibly. Specifically, the World Environment Day Celebration focuses its attention on the need to protect and preserve the environment.
The Minister for Environment Science and Technology, Prof. Dominic Fobih, who launched this year's celebrations in Accra on April 11, 2002, stressed that "the celebrations call for a demonstration of commitment from all individuals, groups and organizations to protect the environment and to prevent further damage to it."
For this year's environment day celebrations, UNEP, which is the UN agency responsible for coordinating World Environment Day activities has chosen the global theme; "Give Earth a Chance." Ghana has however chosen for celebration of this day locally, the theme, "The Earth, Our Home, Our Future." The day, which would be observed in all regions of the country would include a national clean-up campaign, schools environment quiz, synchronized national Radio and TV broadcasts to launch series of media promotion of a sustainable environment and a nationwide tree planting exercise.
For the first time in the celebration, awards would be presented to deserving journalists who have contributed to creating awareness on the environment at the durbar through the newly established Environment Ministry's Environmental Reporting Awards Scheme.
Though the climax for this year's celebration - a national durbar, would take place at Jackson Park, Kumasi, on June 5th, the Upper East and Northern Regions would take their turn on October 19th and 24th, 2002 respectively, while the Greater Accra and Upper West Regions celebrate on November 6th and 20th, 2002. According to the Environment Minister, for one of the major aspects of the celebration, which is the tree planting exercise, five schools and two communities each in all ten regions would be selected to undertake the exercise.
Celebration of the World Day to Combat Drought and Desertification on June 17th would be under the theme "Save our lands form wildfires." The venue for this year's celebrations would be Savelugu in the Northern Region, which choice has been influenced by the fact that "it is one of the Districts most affected by desertification as a result of mass deforestation using machinery such as bulldozers to clear the land for commercial cultivation of rice and maize in the early 1960s and thereafter," disclosed Prof. Fobih.
Further intimating that there are at present large areas of land which have been degraded to the extent that it has become impossible to produce reasonable yields of maize and rice, the minister hoped the holding of the durbar in the district would create the much needed awareness of rejuvenating the land among the large number of people who depend on the land for their livelihood.