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Regional Capacity Building Workshop for Environmental Lawyers and Journalists

Opening Ceremony

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L-R : Mr. Soji Awogbade (Chair of the Ceremony), Hon. Captain Nkrabea Effah- Dartey, Deputy Minister of Interior, Ghana, Prof Chidi Ibe, Regional Director, GCLME and Mr. Jonathan Allotey, Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency, Ghana

The Regional Capacity Building Workshop for Environmental Lawyers and Journalists was officially opened on 8 May, 2006 by the Deputy Minister of Interior, Ghana, Hon. Captain Nkrabea Effah- Dartey (Rtd.), in presence of Mr. Soji Awogbade (Chair of the Ceremony), President of the Nigerian Lawyers Association, Prof Chidi Ibe, Regional Director, GCLME and Mr. Jonathan Allotey, Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency, Ghana.

Background

In recent years, overexploitation of both renewable and non-renewable natural resources, misplaced priorities and a general lack of appreciation for nature, compounded by lack of education and compliance with environmental regulations, have resulted in the rapid degradation of the environment and loss of ecosystem services. This situation has also created public health and socio-economic problems. To successfully address these situations key measures need to be put in place to increase advocacy and public awareness on the importance of the conservation of the environment to ensure sustainable development.

The role of environmental lawyers in facilitating good environmental governance for sustainable development, as well as ensuring enforcement and compliance of environmental regulations, is key to maintaining environmental integrity. They must ensure that an effective balance is maintained between a stable and healthy economy and business climate and the protection, preservation of the environment. Environmental lawyers also play a major role in involving the public decisions that affect their environment.

Working in close collaboration with environmental lawyers are environmental journalists, who through media activities create environmental awareness on pertinent environmental issues, such as pollution and waste management, habitat degradation, effects of climate change, loss of biodiversity, environmental health and sanitation.

The effectiveness of environmental lawyers and journalists, in making substantial contribution to environmental protection, depends to a large extent on how well their capacity is built for a better understanding of pertinent environmental issues as well as the legal and institutional framework that govern them. With these tools at their disposal, journalists can engage in more accurate and analytic reportage on environmental issues, while lawyers can advocate for all segments of society to become environmentally responsible.

For the activities of the two groups to have more positive impact in ensuring an environmentally educated and compliant society, they need to collaborate and work together for mutually beneficial relations.

It is against this background that the Guinea Current Large Marine Ecosystem (GCLME) Project organized a three-day Regional Workshop aimed at building the capacity of environmental lawyers and journalists on priority environmental issues and associated legal and institutional framework in the GCLME sub region,. The workshop is also to effectively equip them to play their respective roles in ensuring effective environmental education, reporting, advocacy and compliance towards the attainment of an ecologically sound environment, whose resources are sustainably utilized.

Objectives

The objectives of the workshop were as follows:
  1. To increase awareness and build the capacity of environmental lawyers and journalists on
  • Environmental rights as they relate to human rights;
  • Priority environmental issues in the GCLME region;
  • Legal and Institutional Framework to manage priority environmental issues.
  1. To provide a forum to facilitate experiences and information sharing among participants.
  2. To provide a platform for mutual collaboration and follow-up especially under the GCLME project.

Outputs

  1. Awareness was created and participants were better informed on priority environmental issues within the region
  2. Capacity built : a better understanding of the legal and institutional framework in place to address priority environmental issues
  3. Avenues for exchange of information, mutual collaboration and follow-up established

Participation

The Workshop brought together 59 participants (at least one environmental lawyer and one environmental journalist from each country), selected based their close collaboration with the populations and decision makers in the coastal areas of the 16 countries bordering the Guinea Current. The participants were also involved in activities to reverse the trends of environmental degradation, through awareness creation and advocacy for compliance.

Resource persons were drawn from Research, Legal and Media Institutions, Universities, Governmental and Non-Governmental Organisations.

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