Friday, 24 July 2015

MDG 7: Ensuring Environmental Sustainability

Ensuring Environmental Sustainability

 To achieve the ultimate goal of sustainable development, we must target many different areas that pool together to allow progress. We at International Service in Ghana split into many different projects all around the Northern Region, focusing on these kinds of areas – raising awareness of the rights of the people, sexual health education, rights of women and people with disabilities, sustainable enterprise and so on. We are all working hard on these long-term projects in hope for a better and more sustainable future for the Northern Region of Ghana.

  However, an often forgotten yet important part of sustainable development is the environment.  The 7th goal of the UN Millennium Development goals, the goals in which ICS was built around, is to ‘Ensure Environmental Sustainability’. The four main targets for this goal are (UN Millennium Development Goals fact sheet, 2013):

1.       Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes and reverse the loss of environmental resources
2.       Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss
3.       Halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation
4.       Achieve, by 2020, a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers
  The environment is the core factor that contributes to every country’s ability to produce goods, provide sound infrastructure, preserve ecosystems and habitats, and have viable and continuous resources such as water and energy. Each UN millennium development goal is just as important as the other, but some may be harder to achieve. People need and use what the environment provides immediately, and it is hard to restrict this usage for the consideration of the future – a time that is not yet upon us and therefore simpler to just overlook.


  There is good news for the environment since the UN millennium development goals were set in place, the first transboundary biosphere reserve was established in 2002 in West Africa. These reserves mean that we can monitor and better manage sustainable use of biodiversity. The official Environmental Protection Act for Ghana was established in 1994 to formulate policies and recommendations for the protection of the environment. There are also projects in Ghana that focus on these types of matters. A Rocha Ghana (ARG) is a recognised NGO that has many projects in Ghana aiming to preserve ecological habitats and help communities adapt themselves to climate change issues and other environmental problems like access to clean water. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has 39 projects in Ghana to promote sustainable development, including projects on energy efficiency and environmental sustainability for cocoa production. These projects work within a shorter timeframe, between 2012 and 2016, whilst ARG is ongoing.


 Despite these policies and projects working away for a sustainable environment, the 7th UN Millennium Development goal was not met by 2015 in Ghana. There are many challenges to meet this goal, which are difficult to overcome, specifically for targets 1, 2 and 4. Ghana’s forest cover is continually decreasing; it declined from 32.7% to 24.2% between 1990 and 2005. There is also difficulty in enforcing the policies and managing resources to meet these targets. However, the target to reduce the amount of the population that is living without access to safe water (3) was achieved ahead of schedule by 6%, but urbanization means that there is an increasing demand for safe water as population rises and as industry develops.  The work made with this target must still continue to keep up with water demands.

  Overall, lots of work is being done across Ghana to achieve the MDG 7, ensuring environmental sustainability. This goal may not have been reached by 2015, but with more attention to these concerns and policy enforcement it is entirely possible that it can be achieved in the near future. There is current sustainable progress amongst the other MDG’s such as ‘Achieve Universal Primary Education’, ‘Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women’, Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other Diseases’. These areas are some of which International Service is working on, what we are working on across Ghana in partnership with other charities under ICS. It will be a long process, as it will be in the other countries working on sustainable development, but it is happening. Importantly, please do not forget that we are all responsible for our environment. We need to respect it and give back whatever we take, for it allows us to live on this beautiful planet in the first place.

Louise, Resource Centre, Cohort 13 (IS)

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