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Regional News Wed, 28 Mar 2012

Eco Communities National Framework launched

Ms Sherry Ayittey, Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, on Wednesday launched the Eco Communities and Cities National Framework to help create the platform to maintain and renew sustainable communities in Ghana.

The framework, designed by Ghana Green Building Council (GHGBC), an NGO, in collaboration with other stakeholders, forms part of a set of guided principles and aspirations serving as the basis for the development of the rating tool for community, neighbourhood and city development in Ghana.

The Council, established in 2009, has taken the responsibilities to adopt the Eco-Communities also known as the Green Star GH rating tool from the Australian Model, that establishes five national best practice principles to guide all sustainable communities development either new or revitalisation in Ghana.

Ms Ayittey welcomed the framework, explaining that, eco-communities meant working with people and communities to build strong local economy, create attractive town centres with good road and passenger transport, use resources better and produce less waste as well as improve the well-being of residents.

“Eco-communities or eco-cities are built up instead of sprawled out. This means that people don’t travel extensively throughout the city because everything they need is right within. This reduces harm to the environment in many different ways,” the Minister noted.

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She said Eco-Communities, Eco-Neighbourhood or Eco-Cities were gaining support as a way to pursue economic growth and development, while preventing environmental degradation and unsustainable natural resource use.

Ms Ayittey said as the framework was being launched, it was imperative that the citizenry supported the initiative through volunteerism, technical know- how and financial resources for the development of a better Ghana in a sustainable manner for both present and future generations.

Green Industry, she indicated, was at the core of sustainable development as it combined poverty reduction through productive activities and job creation with an increase in the environmental sustainability of industrial activity.

Green industry equips businesses to take a leading role in developing and applying safe, resource efficient and climate-resilient technologies and processes.

Ms Ayittey said though the overarching priorities for Ghana were still poverty eradication, the provision of basic education, ensuring food security, and delivering essential services such as water supply and sanitation, at the same time, a large share of Ghana’s economy was dependent on natural resource and they were often particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, especially in terms of security of food supply and access to water resources, water pollution and flood.

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Dr Hannah Louisa Bissiw, Deputy Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, said estimates had it that cities covered less than one per cent of the earth’s surface but were responsible for up to 75 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

With more than 50 per cent of the world’s population living in cities, indications are that it is set to reach 60 per cent by 2030.

“This scenario poses several challenges for both government and civil society organisations such as the Council in terms of human, financial material resources. It is against this background that government’s interest could be swayed to partner with your organisation so that through its policy interventions, the technical, financial and logistical perquisites could be provided in support of your activities and operations.”

She therefore pledged government’s support to help create a sustainable prospect for Ghana as the development of the Eco-Communities Rating Tools would bring economic, social and cultural gains to the entire citizenry for a better Ghana.

Mr Foster Osae Akonnor, Chief Executive Officer, GHGBC, said the Green building initiative started in USA about 20 years ago and later adopted widely worldwide in 2000.

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He explained that the Green Star GH Office rating tool was based overall on the Green Star developed by the Green Building Council of Australia and its customization by the Green Building Council of South Africa.

Mr Akonnor said with the project, the Green Star GH certified rating tool had been designed to assess the environmental attributes of new commercial office buildings as well as major base building refurbishments of existing office facilities across Ghana.

“Other institutions, individuals and corporate bodies could all come on board to adopt the rating to help improve the situation of environmental degradation.”**

Source: GNA