Africa: U.S. Department of State Briefing Highlights Environmental Efforts in Africa

Nairobi — The U.S. Department of State’s Acting Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, Jennifer Littlejohn has highlighted why key environmental issues such as air quality, deforestation, nature crimes, plastic pollution, and promoting a sustainable blue economy should be taken seriously.

Speaking during a digital press briefing on Tuesday to discuss U.S. environmental efforts in Africa, Littlejohn, who is visiting Ghana and will be travelling to the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi said collective responsibility is key in tackling the challenges.

She emphasized the United States’ commitment to partnering with African countries to address pressing environmental challenges and underscored the importance of protecting the environment for the benefit of all people globally.

“We are working together to protect the ocean and the environment – for the benefit of all people all over the world,” Littlejohn stated.

During her visit to Ghana, Littlejohn engaged with community members and government officials to discuss efforts to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, which threatens fisheries sustainability and livelihoods. She commended Ghana’s commitment to forest conservation and highlighted initiatives like the LEAF Coalition and Forest Carbon Partnership Facility.

“Ghana’s commitment to forest conservation is translating into tangible outcomes,” Littlejohn remarked. “The Emissions Reduction Payment Agreement will make up to 50 million dollars available for Ghana’s efforts to protect forests and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

She also discussed U.S. support for clean energy initiatives in Ghana, including solar-powered irrigation for smallholder farmers and assistance in developing hydro-solar plants. She also highlighted efforts to address health risks associated with mercury use in artisanal small-scale gold mining.

“In addition, USAID provided technical assistance to the Bui Power hydro-solar plant,” Littlejohn noted. “The plant, the first of its kind in West Africa, will put Ghana on track to cut its power sector greenhouse gas emissions by 235,000 tons per year.”

In response to questions from journalists, Littlejohn addressed various environmental issues, including plastic pollution control in Uganda, climate financing for countries bearing the brunt of the climate crisis, and air pollution in Uganda.

Regarding IUU fishing, Littlejohn emphasized the need for international cooperation and policy coordination to combat this global challenge.