Conflict resolution and environmental protection took central stage in deliberations at a Peace and Environment Conference, with a call on oil producing African countries to work on guaranteeing peace and protecting the environment.
The conference speakers said cases of sabotage and equipment failure leading to oil spillage could be a source of conflict and must be addressed among emerging oil producing nations.
Mr Kwadwo Tawiah Likpalimor, Former Minister of State, Office of the President at the Kofi Annan International Peace-keeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), urged prospecting and producing oil firms to be mindful of the environmental impact of oil and gas on plant and animal lives as well as potential conflicts.
Speaking at the Conference organised by the Centre for Peace and Environmental Justice (CEPEJ), Mr Likpalimor: “I believe you can all join me to confirm the fact that environmental issues have been regarded by many as matters of low politics.”
“As a result, environmental conservation and sustainability have not received much attention across the world”.
He said in connection with Ghana’s oil discovery and the negative impacts associated with its exploration would have dire consequences on the environment if not properly managed.
The Peace and Environment Conference is being organised by the Centre to enable stakeholders to debate and find solutions to the challenges confronting oil and gas prospecting and producing countries in Africa, using Nigeria as a case study.
Professor Benjamin Okaba, Dean of Faculty of Social Science, Delta State University, Abraka, Nigeria, highlighted the negativities of oil emerging countries and urged journalists to do diligent reportage to prevent conflict.
He said oil production has the tendency of subsuming the agriculture sector as people could move away to seek greener pastures, there citing Nigeria as an example.
He said corruption could set in creating widening gap between the rich and the poor.
The environment could face serious degradation because of oil drilling activities like seismic operations, dredging, experimentation and transportation of oil, he said, adding the state might eventually be forced to be pushed against communities’ rights.
The CEPEJ says it is working to educate emerging oil producing countries like Ghana on how to manage its resources and keep the environment safe and sound at the same time.
Sheriff B. Mulade, Coordinator, CEPEJ, said the conference would seek and re-affirm commitment of oil and gas operators industry in partnering with stakeholders to find ways to curb the environmental challenges confronting the industry.
“It also confirms stakeholders and nations interest to find better ways to re-position the oil and gas industry of their countries, particularly the West African region,” he added.
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