Ghana’s Inspiring Environmental Ambition

“And I’d say we’re proud to be working with Ghana on efforts to combat IUU fishing, as well as the crimes often associated with it.”

When President Joe Biden and private partners launched the LEAF coalition on Earth Day in April 2021, Ghana was among the first two countries to sign an emissions reduction purchase agreement. Three years on, the West African country has remained outstanding, becoming one of the United States’ eminent partners in tackling some of Africa’s persistent problems. 

A partnership that works

The US-Ghana partnership includes addressing the climate, biodiversity, and pollution crises. While on a recent visit to Ghana, Jennifer R. Littlejohn, the U.S. Department of State’s Acting Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, praised the West African country as a great example of environmental ambition. J.R. Littlejohn’s remarks underscore Ghana’s readiness to become a regional leader in clean energy generation and research.

The United States and Africa are making tremendous progress on environmental and scientific cooperation across the African continent, Jennifer R. Littlejohn said earlier in the year. Announced in early 2024, these collaborative efforts emphasize that the United States and African countries have forged a working partnership. “We are working together to protect the ocean and the environment for the benefit of all people, all over the world,” the senior Department of State official stated.

While noting the negative consequences deriving from an unregulated fisheries business, Assistant Secretary Littlejohn initiated her briefing by announcing her sharp observation of Ghana’s fishing ecosystem, “I visited a major harbor and spoke with community members about efforts to protect the fisheries industry that supports their livelihoods and provides a vital source of food. Unfortunately, like in many places around the world, illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing is threatening the sustainability of fisheries there.” She added: “And I’d say we’re proud to be working with Ghana on efforts to combat IUU fishing, as well as the crimes often associated with it.”

Projects with a committed partner

Ghana is a committed global partner in forest protection and greenhouse gas emission reduction. Impressed with the country’s eco-friendly drive, Acting Secretary Littlejohn shifted her focus to America’s environmental projects in Ghana. Some of the projects are:

  • The LEAF (Lowering Emissions by Accelerating Forest Finance) Coalition and Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, comprising 32 governments, focused on halting and reversing deforestation by 2030.
  • “Resilient Ghana,” a country package announced at COP28 to back Ghana in its forest and climate pursuits.
  • Forests and Climate Leaders’ Partnership, a global alliance focused on halting and reversing forest loss and land degradation by 2030. The coalition is also concerned with sustainable development and inclusive rural transformation.
  • USAID’s provision of technical assistance to the Bui Power hydro-solar plant. No other plant of its nature exists in West Africa. The infrastructure will enable the country to reduce its power sector greenhouse gas emissions by 235,000 tons yearly.
  • Solar-powered irrigation schemes supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development. This scheme fosters access to clean energy for smallholder farmers.
  • The Peace Corps and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) plan for a twinning program between schools in North Carolina and Ghana for information sharing in areas of culture and the environment. 

Other US environmental projects with Ghana include the following:

  • An initiative-also available in Mali, the DRC, Guinea, Senegal, and Burkina Faso-that addresses health risks resulting from mercury use by artisanal small-scale gold miners.
  • Training and capacity building for journalists to report on illicit wildlife and nature crimes.
  • Ghana is part of the new Partnership for Atlantic Cooperation, an alliance promoting sustainable and resilient Atlantic resources for incoming generations. 
  • Work with experts at the University of Ghana on air quality-related projects and the University’s collaboration with Columbia University, a partnership that trained 100 scientists, engineers, and policymakers across West Africa to handle air pollution challenges.
  • The EPA’s plan to help build Ghana’s technical capacities for E-Waste handling.
  • Embassy Science Fellows program that saw two US government scientists working in Accra in areas of mentorship for young women in agricultural sciences research.

These extensive US engagements with Ghana underline America’s willingness to share cutting-edge scientific expertise with developing countries. It also stresses the argument that the world’s ecological issues are shared concerns that a global alliance that does not exclude countries based on socioeconomic indicators or political alignments can address.

What can Ghana do? 

Significantly, Ghana has received praise from the Department of State amidst the global spectre of a warming climate and notably hotter temperatures on the African continent. 

In a September 4, 2023 report, the World Meteorological Organization stated: “The average rate of warming in Africa was +0.3 OC/decade during the 1991-2022 period, compared to +0.2 OC /decade between 1961 and 1990. This is slightly above the global average. The warming has been most rapid in North Africa, which was gripped by extreme heat, fueling wildfires in Algeria and Tunisia in 2022.”

The alarming report from the WMO calls for urgent measures. It behoves Ghana and other African countries to continue demonstrating resounding commitments to global ecological partnerships, environmental progress, and sustainability within their borders and beyond. This idea recognises that most environmental problems are transnational. 

A willingness to further collaborate

The United States is working with partners across the African continent to address crucial environmental issues like air quality, deforestation, nature crimes, and plastic pollution. Again, a sustainable blue economy and partnerships in science and space exploration are strategic concerns of the US in its engagements with Africa. 

Ghana has keyed into these laudable initiatives with an unambiguous commitment that necessitates continuing commendations. The country’s drive and ambition should impulse other African countries to tow a similar line of collaboration and mutually benefiting partnerships with the United States.

After all, the United States is ready to work with Africa. This position is evident in President Joe Biden’s remark at the U.S.-Africa Summit in 2022. He said, “The United States is all in on Africa and all in with Africa.” That presidential remark foreshadows remarkable collaborative work in the years ahead. Now is the time for other African countries to seize the initiative a’ la Ghana.