Green solutions from Ghana

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The author, Kwasi Owusu Gyeabour, won third place in an international youth essay competition sponsored by the World Bank and other partners. He answered the question “How can you tackle climate change through youth-led solutions?” The awards were announced in Seoul in June, 2009.

There is never a time in the future in which we will work out our salvation. The challenge is in the moment, the time is always now.” -James Baldwin (1924 - 1987) Nobody Knows My Name, "Faulkner and Desegregation

It is a privilege to be called on to share ideas on issues of our time, issues that can be solved through youthful action. In my essay, “Greening the Ghanaian Youth” I proposed several ideas that would help tackle climate change. Here is a sample of the ones I consider most practical.

Youth action at the community level is the most potent force in our fight against rapid climate change. So I proposed the establishment of a Green Sector Mutual Fund. This community-based fund will invest in firms that operate in the green/environmental sector. Now I consider this feasible because I have friends who have established mutual funds such as the University of Ghana Campus Mutual Fund which have turned out successful. The success of a fund mostly depends on factors such as advertising and the prestige and market reach of the fund managers. Most asset management firms these days would jump at the opportunity to manage something ethical just to create a sense of social responsibility and goodwill.

Floods in Ghana
   Photo © Curt Carnemark/World Bank

Now that we know that climate change is here to stay, I believe we must help ourselves by looking for ways to survive its impacts. This is why I also proposed that we establish a Community Climate Change Impact Relief Centre. This centre would train the youth in my community to prepare for climate-related disasters. You can imagine how long it takes for relief efforts to reach the needy after disasters. Such a centre would be a collaborative effort between the local assembly, young people, and National Disaster Management Organization officials who could train us every weekend. Had we had such a centre in Accra, the recent floods wouldn’t have taken lives.

Also at the community level, I suggested a “Green Scout Movement” along the lines of the Boy Scouts of America. This would introduce children to climate change at an early stage and lead them through different stages (Green Prince, Green Scout, and so on) to the final stage of Green Entrepreneur when they will be challenged to carry out environmental projects.

At the national level I proposed the Carbon Compensation Plan, a scheme by which we hope to influence policy makers through our local Member of Parliament. This scheme would suggest a special tax on companies whose actions affect the environment directly. Additionally, such firms would be required to afforest allocated land.

The American lawyer Robert G. Ingersoll put it brilliantly: “In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments—there are consequences.” I believe that in our quest to slow down the progress of climate change and possibly counter its impact, our prime motivation should be the potential consequences of neglect.

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