Green Ghana Day: A Day of Planting, A Year of Abandoning Seeds.

Climate change is essentially a long-term shift in temperature and weather patterns. It is a global concern. Climate Action is the 13th Sustainable Development Goal. Here, the purpose is to limit human-caused climate change.

Climate change threatens life on Earth by posing the threat of unfavorable outcomes such as strong droughts, water scarcity, devastating fires, increasing sea levels, flooding, melting polar ice caps, and dwindling biodiversity, among others. Afforestation, deliberate tree planting, and deforestation management remain our best chances for success in the fight against climate change. Planting many trees around the planet will result in a lot of oxygen circulating for humans, as well as the plants absorbing excess carbon, which threatens human health.

Throughout the years, Ghana has played a vital role in the collective efforts globally aimed at tackling climate change. The major highlight of this has been the Green Ghana Day introduced by the current President, Nana Akuffo Addo which targets the planting of ten million trees nationwide in a day. This initiative first started in 2021 and has since been observed every other year including this year, which was observed on Friday, 7th June, 2024. The current Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Hon. Samuel Abu Jinapor, revealed in the 2024 Green Ghana Day edition that a total of 42 million trees have been planted through this initiative since 2021. This way, Ghana has been contributing its quota towards tackling climate change. However, this data cannot be boldly testified of as the true reflection of what it is – realistically. 

Consider this scenario; you choose a random place, dig the ground and plant a seedling, water it, and nurture it, all in a day, then you refuse to attend to it until another Green Ghana Day is drawing nigh and that is when you recall you planted some seedlings a year ago and decide to check up on it to see how they are faring. What would you expect? Sadly, this is the seeming fate of this initiative in Ghana and its accompanying huge budgetary allocation annually. We love the idea of planting trees, but we lack the discipline and responsibility required to successfully nurture them into a tree. Year after year, the President and other stakeholders are presented with data that will make things look good on the ground. However, it has always been far from the truth.

I believe there is a more viable option available that will yield more impact if considered. We can target housing structures during building permit approvals. 

According to the Ghana Commercial Bank Sector Industry Analysis – Construction Sector-Real Estate Development Report 2022, 35,000 to 40,000 housing units are built in Ghana each year. This means that if every new structure built year after year is persuaded to plant a tree or trees within the residence, we could expect to plant at least 35,000 to 40,000 trees each year. This alternative is more viable than Green Ghana Days because it is deemed property and is cared for directly by the landlord or house owner. How do we do this?

Buildings and constructions in Ghana are required by law to be given building permits from the Metropolitan, Municipal, or District Assembly where they will be located. As part of these processes, several documents are sought, including the building plan, which describes all of the project’s specifics such as height, usage, design, and so on. What if, as part of the building design standards, we made it recommended to include provisions for tree planting or trees in the house or the building’s zoned area? These seedlings are always available for free at every Forestry Commission of Ghana office around the country.

This initiative might not produce numbers that are as significant as the numbers produced for Green Ghana Day, yet they will prove more realistic and truly impactful.  Ghana’s adoption and introduction of this strategy will also count us among one of the first economies to use this viable approach in tackling climate change.

The impact of climate change is real and significant. Nobody must be encouraged to hide behind unrealistic data and figures that will create the impression that we are winning this fight, especially when there is a more realistic, cheaper, and better approach.    

Article by

Asamoah Isaac Eli

 He is a Development Planning expert. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology in Ghana. He shares in the ideals of YAFO including free market and civil liberty. He is also a strong advocate for mental health awareness and climate change mitigation interventions. 

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