UG and Partners Explore the Role of Research in Governing Transitions Towards Sustainable Water and Energy in Ghana at Panel Session

The University of Ghana, in collaboration with the University of Sussex and the Institute of Development Studies Hub, recently hosted a panel discussion focused on the role of research in governing transitions towards sustainable water and energy in Ghana. 
The event, held at the Auditorium of the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI), aimed to disseminate research findings on challenges and solutions to drive actions for implementation.
The panel discussion, divided into two parts, addressed the significance of research in supporting clean and sustainable water in the first segment, while the latter discussed the equitable transition to energy security and sustainability in Ghana.
Chairing the event was Prof. Chris Gordon, an environmental scientist and Founding Director of the Institute for Environment and Sanitation Studies at the University of Ghana. In his opening remarks, he highlighted the challenges Ghana faces, including climate change and pollution.  Prof. Gordon remarked, “Often you will find that we are always the follower; we are always being reactive rather than proactive.” He expressed hope for an African, specifically Ghanaian, perspective to emerge from the discussion, particularly regarding issues of equity, justice and inclusion in water distribution.
Prof. Chris Gordon, Founding Director of the Institute for Environment and Sanitation Studies 
Dr. Hikimah Baah, a Lecturer in Sustainability, Innovation and Energy Policy at the University of Sussex, UK, and a consultant for sustainable water and sanitation solutions, delivered a presentation on research-generated solutions aimed at ensuring clean and sustainable water. 
She stressed the importance of local commitment to projects to foster individual responsibility for sustaining a clean water supply. Dr. Baah also highlighted challenges such as inadequate funding and the lack of project management negatively impacting equitable water supply. She explained, “Inadequate funding, nepotism and the lack of project management go a long way to negatively affect the inequitable supply of clean and safe water.”
Dr. Hikimah Baah, Lecturer in Sustainability, Innovation and Energy Policy at the University of Sussex, UK,
Mr. Adam Wahabu, a representative from the Regional Co-ordinating Council (RCC) of the Savannah Region, revealed the difficulties they face due to a lack of reliance on research-based data. In his view, this leads to issues such as inaccurate funding and a technology gap in policy implementation. 
Mr. Wahabu, however, said primary findings have provided insights, prompting plans to create a platform for knowledge sharing and practical application of research findings. He stated, “We do not rely on research-based data and as such, we face difficulties like inaccurate funding and technology gap in implementing policies.”
Sharing his thoughts on the importance of research in informing realistic policies that address people's needs, ensuring equity and inclusion in water and sanitation, Mr. Amin Yahaya from Integrated Action for Community Development, Ghana, said “Research needs to assist implementation to ensure sustainable clean water and sanitation.”
Prof. Pete Newell, a Professor of International Relations and an expert in the politics and political economy of environment and development at the University of Sussex, UK, addressed the audience. 
Prof. Pete Newell
He focused on bridging the gap between planned actions and implementation, advocating for the use of fossil fuels to transition towards energy security and sustainability. “We need to urgently explore the option of using fossil fuel to transition to energy security and sustainability,” Prof. Newell mentioned.
Dr. Hawa Mahana from the Institute of Local Government Studies, Ghana, emphasised the disparities in energy transition plans between regions and the need for harmonisation and integrating research into production for effective transitions. She stated, “Most countries, including Ghana today, feel unsettled when it comes to making decisions that will affect future generations.”

Mr. Benjamin Boakye from the African Centre for Energy Policy, Ghana, suggested solar panels and ethanol as options for energy sustainability, noting the lack of sufficient research and education hindering the adoption of alternative energy sources. Mr. Boakye suggested, “There is a possibility of using ethanol for cooking, however, there has not been enough research and education put into it, hence Ghanaians fail to embrace it.”

Mr. Benjamin Boakye, African Centre for Energy Policy, Ghana

During the question-and-answer session, solutions were discussed to bridge gaps between planned actions and implementation, equity, funding and other challenges.

In his concluding remarks, Prof. Chris Gordon detailed the importance of collaboration between practitioners and researchers for effective implementation. He stressed the urgency of transitioning to sustainable energy and water practices, advocating for education on these topics at the senior high level to empower future decision-makers.

The event shed light on critical issues and provided insights to drive actionable solutions towards sustainable water and energy governance in Ghana.