The Green Africa Youth Organization (GAYO), an eco-conscious youth-led organization, held a post-INC 2 debriefing session intending to create awareness and bolster the capacities of stakeholders concerning the global plastic treaty at the La Dadekotopon Municipal Assembly in Accra on Friday, August 25, 2023.
This workshop, which was put on in collaboration with the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), Human Rights Reporters Ghana (HRRG) and the AKO Foundation, was crucial in advancing environmental sustainability and giving much-needed insight into the complexities surrounding the plastic waste crisis.
According to GAYO’s Project Coordinator, Jacob Johnson Attakpah, the debriefing session was a follow-up on the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee’s (INC) second session, during which the global treaty on plastic waste was developed.
“Since its conception, the treaty has been the linchpin to curbing the surge of global plastic waste, which continues to plague the environment and the health of living organisms.
GAYO’s move to establish post-INC 2 debrief illustrates the entity’s commitment to involving stakeholders in understanding and progressing with the treaty’s implementations”.
The event which brought together stakeholders such as informal sector waste workers, youth groups, civil society organizations, environmental and health officers of metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies was pivotal in expounding on the decisions made during the committee session and how they would impact local communities, industries and national agendas.
It brought together panelists made up of Ghana’s transition team, who gave a detailed insight into the objectives and scopes of the Option Paper of INC and explained the stance of Ghana and, for that matter, Africa as far as reaching the global plastic treaty agreement is concerned.
The Executive Director of the Environment Youth Action Network (EYAN), Dr. Sam Adu-Kumi, who shared a panel with two other experts, averred that Ghana, or Africa, is seeking a comprehensive and implementable legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution.
This, according to him, was the result of ensuring protection of human health and the environment, taking cognizance of the nature of the plastic pollution menace it is faced with in spite of the numerous options available to choose from.
Mrs. Lydia Obenewa Essuah, Director of Policy Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation (PPME) at the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation, called for a multi-stakeholder strategy to address the plastic pollution crisis that Ghana is facing.
“I think the most important thing for us to do is to unite as one force globally and look at how we can best put systems and structures in place to be able to effectively and efficiently manage the plastics”.
She contends that Ghana’s decision to promote the management of plastics and plastic pollution throughout their entire lifecycle is appropriate given that the nation produces a lot of plastic waste that it is unable to manage due to a lack of the necessary infrastructure, necessitating the need for proposal-making on how to manage the legacy plastic.
In addition to the legacy plastic waste agenda already in place, Mrs. Essuah said that in light of the overwhelming evidence pointing out Ghana’s failure to address the problem, the country is considering pushing for INC 3, or the Global Plastic Pollution Fee, to address the pollution gap and create the necessary infrastructure for managing plastic sustainably.
At the debrief session, GAYO aimed at creating awareness about the specifics of the treaty, its implications, and the role individuals, governments, and corporations can play in its successful execution. This marked an invaluable avenue for stakeholders to gain pertinent information, ask questions, and brainstorm implementations strategies to counter the plastic waste problem gaining further traction in Africa.
Key topics during the session revolved around the treaty’s content and due enforcement strategies. There was also an emphasis on the importance of countries incorporating the treaty into their domestic legislation to promote recycling and limit the production and usage of single-use plastics. Additionally, the economic implications of the treaty, particularly on developing economies, were discussed thoroughly.
GAYO also afforded stakeholders a platform to voice their concerns and recommendations. Participants were particularly eager to discuss potential challenges in enforcing the treaty and the need for knowledge transfer among stakeholders for successful adoption and implementation. Challenges surrounding technical, financial, and infrastructural capacities were also addressed extensively.
The session is part of GAYO’s larger agenda to build the capacity of stakeholders in handling environmental challenges. By putting emphasis on a collective approach, GAYO’s efforts were heavily geared towards supporting the global fight against plastic pollution while protecting the continent’s rich biodiversity and ecosystem.
GAYO and partners have proven unequivocally that grassroots NGOs and youth-led organizations can provide meaningful contributions towards the global sustainability dialogue. Their zeal to ensure environmental welfare is unwavering, as demonstrated by their engagement in the INC 2 dialogue. This initiative exhibited GAYO’s stride in promoting transparency and inclusivity in environmental decision-making processes at the global level.
At the core of the plastic treaty discussion was the common yet urgent problem of plastic pollution. It’s a crisis that merits collaborative efforts to avert annihilation of biodiversity and undue harm to human health. The INC 2 convened to discuss potential strategies and frameworks to regulate the plastic value chain and conduct plastic waste management. Members also reviewed and refined the first draft of the prospective plastic treaty, ensuring global consensus on the urgency of addressing plastic pollution.
In GAYO’s stakeholder engagement meeting, representatives conveyed the resolutions reached at the INC 2. Major focus points included the establishment of a new global agreement to regulate plastic pollution, the reinforcement of Regional Seas Conventions, and the extension of the existing Basel Convention to comprehend plastics. Furthermore, they profiled proposed policies to control plastic production, design, usage, disposal, and processed plastic product importation.
Recognizing the crucial role of stakeholder input in successful policy implementation, the engagement debriefing encouraged an interactive dialogue. Various stakeholders, from government representatives and political decision-makers to manufacturers, consumers, informal sector workers, youth groups, civil society organizations, environmental and health officers of metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies attended this meeting.
It facilitated the sharing of insights and feedback, which will be critical in informing subsequent treaty discussions. It also emphasized the need to align local actions with global agendas, thus fostering holistic progress in our battle against plastic pollution.
As part of its objectives, GAYO presented a platform to ensure the INC 2 outcomes echo down to grassroots levels. Through this platform, it echoed the call for a comprehensive plastic treaty that doesn’t only focus on the management of plastic waste but also addresses the entire lifecycle of plastic.
Understanding the urgency of the plastic crisis, GAYO’s stakeholder engagement was an exemplary model of climate activism, promoting collaboration, and inclusive dialogue in the journey towards sustainability. It showcased those harnessing local realities and aligning them with international trends is key to creating an all-round resilient and sustainable future.
The Green Africa Youth Organization’s pivotal engagement in the INC 2 session and its continuous commitment to fighting plastic pollution reiterates their dedication to drive environmental welfare and sustainable development. Their determination to involve stakeholders at every juncture exhibits an enduring quest for inclusivity and transparency in the quest to resolve pressing environmental issues. This mission seeks to ensure that no voice is left unheard, and no solution is left unexplored.
Undoubtedly, GAYO’s efforts exemplify the power wielded by collective collaboration and constructive dialogue in environmental policymaking and sustainability practices. It goes to show that in the face of grave environmental challenges, uniting our expertise and efforts becomes an irreplaceable ante in progressing towards a more sustainable and resilient world.
Source: Joseph Kobla Wemakor|humanrightsreporters.com