The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Ghana, along with the other agencies of the United Nations (UN) in Ghana, has taken the decision to ban the use of single-use plastics in all its premises as of 1 September 2019. Since then, much has transpired, and with the onset of COVID-19, the need to remind ourselves about the importance of good green practices has become even more urgent. Therefore, on the occasion of World Environment Day on 5 June 2021, IOM Ghana organised an internal conversation among colleagues about what each and every one of us can do to become an ambassador for our environment.
Going single-use plastic-free intersects with many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including responsible consumption and production (SDG 12), life on land (SDG 15), life below water (SDG 14), sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11) and reduced inequalities (SDG 10). It also fits within the UN’s journey towards climate neutrality and “Greening the Blue”, which is a call on all UN agencies, funds and programmes to ‘go green’ and become climate neutral.
For IOM Ghana, discussions started in 2018 when the mission organized its first “Green Challenge” to gather and award colleagues’ ideas on how to go green. In the office setting, going plastic-free meant changing consumption practices and required a shift from relying on convenience that is harming our planet and future generations, to being more aware and planning better. All colleagues have been actively involved and demonstrated huge commitment.
Concretely the following actions have been taken:
- Plastic bottles of water or other drinks, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, sachet water, plastic straws, cup lids, utensils, bags and polystyrene containers are no longer welcome at IOM Ghana premises.
- The watercoolers are equipped with paper cups.
- During meetings, pitchers of water and glasses are provided.
- Staff is using reusable mugs/bottles/glasses to drink water/coffee/tea throughout the day, and reusable containers for food, declining the styrofoam container and additional plastic bag usually provided by food vendors.
In terms of advocacy, IOM Ghana runs internal activities:
- On 11 June 2021, IOM Ghana planted trees around the office as part of the Green Ghana Day
- On 5 June 2021, World Environment Day was commemorated with a conversation amongst IOM Ghana colleagues about how to bring all these efforts to the next level.
- Previously, an email campaign informed colleagues about the new measures, as well as about broader information in relation to relevant SDGs; the efforts by the Government of Ghana in terms of plastic waste management; the migration, environment and climate change (MECC) nexus; and the global UN Greening the Blue initiative.
- Colleagues going the extra mile were celebrated as “Plastic Warriors”.
- Single-use plastic free posters can be found around the office.
At a programmatic level:
- One of the teams introduced a sustainable water distribution solution for awareness-raising sessions, starting with the community of Nima, Accra. Since then, the water dispensers have been used by other IOM units in their events.
- Catering is also single-use plastic free, encouraging IOM service providers to go green.
- IOM Ghana started introducing some ‘green’ programme interventions, such as engaging and training returning migrants and community members in Ghana to apply environmentally sustainable farming methods. Find out more here.
- IOM Ghana joined the MECC Focal Point at the IOM West and Central Africa Regional Office for a radio talk show on the MECC nexus. Access the interview here.
At UN Ghana level:
IOM Ghana is walking the ‘greening talk’ and continues its efforts to go green – in their programmes, in the office and in their daily lives!
Together, we can be #GenerationRestoration and help restore our ecosystems-for migrants and for nature!
Photo credit: IOM Ghana