The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in collaboration with A Rocha Ghana, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Businesses in Environmental Stewardship Network (BESNet) and its local partner Social Entrepreneurship Hub (SE-Hub), has held a day’s capacity building workshop for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Takoradi.
The workshop which was held on the theme, “The EPA, A Strategic Partner for a Sustainable Business Development” was to enhance participants’ understanding of the EPA’s mandate and its regulatory instruments and procedures.
Mrs Saadia Bobtoya Owusu-Amofa, Project Coordinator for the Ghana Project Office, IUCN in an opening remark said there were clear benefits to businesses in improving environmental performance such as reduced costs, improved innovation, increased likelihood of regulatory approval and general sustainability of the business.
According to her, drawing on a large and diverse membership, and thousands of volunteer experts with global reach, the IUCN was focused on the crucial mission of safeguarding our natural world and rebuilding a healthy and equitable planet for people and nature.
She explained that the workshop formed part of its Nature 2030 Programme (2021-2030), which sets a strategic framework for delivering concrete and tangible positive impacts to people, land, water, oceans and climate using some five pathways to transformative change.
She mentioned the five pathways as Recognise, Retain, Restore, Resource and Reconnect, and said these were intended to promote a shared understanding of the interconnected challenges the world is facing, the urgency of the issues, what can be done and the role each actor can play.
It also highlights the importance of safeguarding, maintaining and sustainably using the world’s biodiversity and natural and cultural heritage; enhancing the condition of species and ecosystems that have already been lost or degraded, capitalising on the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration; resource mobilisation and investment in nature and the people working to conserve it; and build a culture of conservation that aligns people with the planet, and also connects their own heritage.
Mrs Owusu-Amofah said due to the significant dependence of business operations on nature as well as potentially positive and negative impacts that they exert on the environment, it was important that these impacts were properly assessed and appropriate measures instituted to mitigate them.
Mr Albert Ababio, Western and Central Regional Chairman of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) in his presentation defined environmental compliance as meeting the requirements of laws, regulations, and codes designed to protect the environment.
Touching on the relevance of compliance, he said good environmental practices can improve business performance; reduce your business costs by cutting your use of raw materials, energy, water and packaging; improve environmental performance by using energy more efficiently; improves your environmental performance; improve environmental performance by reducing your waste and waste is the result of using materials inefficiently.
“You pay first for materials that you don’t use and pay a second time to get rid of them. Improve environmental performance by using investing to save. Paying for regular inspection and maintenance of equipment may save you money in the longer term. For example, by improving energy efficiency, reducing your use of raw materials or avoiding breakdowns” he stated.
On steps for businesses to comply, he advised that they opt for eco-friendly, low waste and clean technology for equipment and recycle industrial wastes every time so that it minimises the chances of pollution.
He added that the machinery should be upgraded so that it complies with the pollution norms, which will be beneficial in reducing the levels of pollution and conducting quarterly/yearly audits for checking the effectiveness of the pollution control programs.
Mr Kwadwo Opoku-Mensah, a Principal Programs Officer of EPA who spoke on the mandate of the EPA said the 1992 Constitution of Ghana in Article 36 (9) mandates the EPA to take appropriate measures to protect and safeguard the national environment for posterity; seek cooperation with other States and bodies for purposes of protecting the wider international environment for mankind.
He announced that the ultimate aim of the Environmental Policy of Ghana was to ensure sound management of the environment and the avoidance of exploitation of resources in ways that may result in irreparable damage to the environment.
He said the vision of EPA is dedicated to continuously improving and conserving the country’s environment, a country in which all sections of the community value the environment and strive to attain environmentally sustainable development with sound and efficient resource management, taking into account social and equity issues.
Other environmental Laws are Environmental Assessment Regulations 1999, LI 1652, Hazardous and Electronic Waste Control and Management Act 2016, Hazardous, Electronic and other Wastes (Classification), Control and Management Regulations 2016, LI 2250 and Ghana Standard for Environmental Protection Requirements for Effluent Discharge (GS 1212, 2019).
The rest are Ghana Standard for Environment and Health Protection Requirements for Ambient Air Quality and Point Source/Stack Emissions (GS 1236, 2019), Water Resources Commission Act, 1996 (Act 522), Wetlands Management 1999 ((L.I. 1659) Regulations, Land Use and Spatial Planning Act, 2016 (Act 925) and Wildlife Conservation (Amendment) Regulations, 1989 (L.I. 1452) among others.