By: Daniel Nonor
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is to announce the environmental performance of 55 manufacturing and 14 mining companies with the Akoben Management Tool.
The Akoben Management Tool is an environmental management initiative, developed two years ago by the EPA to assess the performance of the two sectors, with the use of a five-colour rating scheme.
Mrs. Angelina Ama Tutuah Mensah, Deputy Director of Public Affairs and Gender Unit of the EPA, disclosed this to the Ghana News Agency in Tamale on Monday.
“The five-colours: gold, green, blue, orange and red, encompasses the full spectrum of environmental performance, ranging from excellent to poor,” she said.
Mrs. Mensah said when a company is rated Gold, it indicated that it had been able to adapt to voluntary initiatives, and was responsive to public complaints, adequately complied with environmental standards, and had followed its corporate social responsibility policies.
She further explained that for a firm rated Green, it meant that it had adequate compliance with environmental standards and reclamation bond criteria, and had adopted voluntary initiatives, and was responsive to public complaints.
A Blue rated company, she said, indicated that the institution had adequate compliance with environmental standards and reclamation bond criteria only.
“Orange rated means that the company has exceeded the regulatory standards for non-toxics, weak environmental monitoring, and incomplete fulfillment of reclamation bond criteria.”
Mrs. Mensah said the colour Red would mean that the company had failed to follow environmental law (LI 1652), and showed patterns of chronic exceeded, creates risks from toxics and hazardous wastes mismanagement and discharges.
She said the tool and the ratings report would also provide clear guidance on where a mining company needs to make improvements in the future.
Mrs. Mensah explained that the tool uses an approach that reflects the modern concepts of corporate environmental and social performance, including ideas such as community relationships, public participation, conflict resolution, and continual improvement.
Akoben’s methodology, she said, had several unique and innovative features that made it the first rating model of its kind for the sectors.
“This initiative uses quantitative, qualitative and visual information to comprehensively evaluate the environmental performance of each site, as well as minimising the use of controversial or vague indicators.”
Mrs. Mensah noted that though the existing literature on environmental and social performance measurement was filled with innumerable ideas and concepts, the tool had been designed to narrow it down to only those performance indicators that could be measured, verified, and validated by a third party.
Akoben, which is a local Adinkra symbol, and stands for vigilance and wariness, also focused on environmental outcomes that indicate various levels of environmental, and health risks, the probability of restoration of environmental conditions in the long-term, and the quality of corporate commitment to social issues.
“This rating tool incorporates the national regulatory performance goals as well as the traditional community relationship aspects that are unique to Ghana.
“At the same time, it also incorporates the practically feasible aspects of environmental and social performance guidelines of the various international organisations including the World Bank and World Health Organisation guidelines,” she said.
Mrs. Mensah said a similar tool called Program for Pollution Control Evaluation and Rating (PROPER) was first introduced in 1995 in Indonesia, “the distinction with this new method is that it is specifically be used to assess mining and manufacturing companies, as well as contributing to the international effort in the field of environmental rating and public disclosure, specifically in the mining sector.”