From ‘Garden City’ to Environmental Erosion: An International Students’ Lessons for Canada and Ghana

As I experienced the beauty of spring and summer in Fredericton, it brought to mind my home of the Ashanti Region of Ghana, once celebrated as the “garden city” of West Africa. 

However, the lush landscapes and natural splendor that once defined this Ghanaian region have been eroded by human activities, offering a sobering lesson for Canada and New Brunswick.

Canada’s Environmental Protection Landscape

During my time as an intern at the Conservation Council of New Brunswick in Fredericton, my experiences and observations have led me to reflect on the contrasting approaches to environmental protection in Canada and my home country, Ghana.

In Canada, the landscape of environmental protection extends far beyond government bodies. The presence of numerous non-profit organizations acted as pressure groups, spreading environmental awareness among the public. 

The Climate Action Network in Canada, for example, collaborated with over 140 organizations, all committed to the cause of climate justice. This participatory approach fostered a sense of responsibility among residents.

This approach is contrasted with Ghana, where the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was the sole organization responsible for environmental protection. The lack of public and non-profit involvement and competition stifled public awareness of environmental issues, exacerbating the problems. Many Ghanaian citizens remained unaware of how illegal mining devastated the country’s forest cover and water bodies.

Contrasting Approaches

What struck me in Canada was the government’s active support of non-profit organizations through funding, resulting in various organizations dedicated to different environmental specialties. 

A shining example of this was the Conservation Council, which successfully campaigned for a fracking moratorium. The council’s efforts, bolstered by community leaders, led to the rejection of a shale gas project proposal due to its potential harm to the environment and groundwater supply.

In Ghana, the absence of robust private organizations hindered similar campaigns and awareness drives. This contributed to unchecked illegal mining activities near water bodies, posing a grave environmental threat. The importance of non-profit organizations became evident, and the need to take advantage of them was undeniable.

Embracing Our Responsibility

It is our responsibility, as the Earth’s present custodians, to rectify our course. The gift of a harmonious relationship with nature must not be squandered. Our actions today would determine the survival and well-being of generations to come. The services rendered by non-profit organizations were invaluable and shouldn’t be taken for granted.

As I observed the contrasting environmental protection approaches in Canada and Ghana, I couldn’t help but hope that, in time, my homeland would adopt some of the strategies I had witnessed in Canada. 

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