Dr Mohamed Bakarr, the Senior Environmental Specialist at the Global Environment Facility, has urged African governments to continuously work towards maintaining the natural environment as indicated in their commitments to the various initiatives.
He said Africa’s future in terms of natural environment was not bleak due to the many initiatives adopted by countries to preserve it including the establishment of the African Ministerial Convention on Environment (AMCEN).
Dr Bakarr was speaking at the weekend during a seminar organised by the Department of Plant and Environmental Biology of the University of Ghana, on the topic: “50 Years of Environmental Governance in Africa”.
He said the 14th AMCEN in 2012 ended with key milestones such as the establishment of the African Environment Partnership Platform to coordinate, mobilise resources, improve knowledge and align towards implementing the Environmental Action Plan.
It also developed a number of regional flagship programmes including initiatives on building a green economy, dealing with land degradation, desertification, biodiversity and ecosystems-based adaptation.
Dr Bakarr said the number of initiatives adopted by African countries within the last 50 years were evidences that leaders had committed to working together as opposed to working individually.
He said there was hope for the future but called on governments to effectively manage the development in African cities to avoid further destruction of the natural resources for human survival.
“The Continent has the fastest growing population on the globe, which calls for higher need for feeding, shelter, and energy consumption among others, hence the continuous need to develop measures to mitigate the pressure on natural environments.”
Dr Bakarr said although the Continent had a vast area for conversion into agriculture, governments needed to manage the food production systems to increase productivity while reducing the rate of invasion into the natural environment.
He said agriculture had largely been done on subsistence basis in Africa with rudimentary methods but Ghana, among other countries, had begun demonstrating that there could be a change.
Dr Bakarr said Ghana had exhibited that the Continent could shift into commercial practice for the future generation not to see agriculture as a back-breaking exercise but rather a lucrative venture to become rich.
He said having a positive view of agriculture would aid in developing its foundation.
The Environmentalist said oil palm had become a huge economic crop, which would soon take over the forests in Africa because countries like Indonesia and Malaysia had exhausted their forests for the produce and beginning to move towards Africa.
This, he said, was a wake-up call to Africa to see the potentials in the sector and take advantage to avoid leaving such a lucrative venture in the hands of foreign investors.