Ghana Youth Environmental Movement (GYEM) has announced the appointment of fashion writer Akuvi Adjabs as the head of the organization’s newly created Sustainable Fashion advocacy unit. According to the Movement, this decision is in response to the growing threats posed by unsustainable fashion practices on the environment in Ghana, and its contribution to global climate change.
Ghana’s garment imports from Europe and North America have a profound impact on the country’s environment. Kantamanto Market in Accra, believed to be the largest second-hand clothing market in West Africa is said to receive about 15 million items every week for sale to Ghanaian consumers. However, a significant proportion of the clothing ends up in the ocean and landfills. The United Nations (UN) estimates that the UK exported over £380m ($600m), or 351,000 tonnes worth of second-hand garments in 2013, making it the second-largest used clothing exporter after the US. Ghana is among the top destinations for these clothing alongside countries such as Pakistan, Ukraine, and Poland.
Faced with this growing environmental concern, GYEM is aiming to raise awareness among the public and fashion industry players about the impact of the second-hand business model on the environment. The organization will also engage state actors on the need to implement relevant policies to control the overconsumption of fast fashion and protect the environment.
Akuvi Adjabs is coming with the knowledge and experience to lead these advocacy efforts. Her work with Quinsera, an initiative she started to sensitize people about socially just and environmentally responsible fashion, has been successful in providing support to fashion start-ups and existing brands to adopt sustainable practices in their business models. She also uses a column in Graphic Showbiz, a widely read and circulated newspaper with a national reach to educate and encourage brands and consumers to build a deeper and long-lasting change towards sustainability.
Ghana Youth Environmental Movement (GYEM) is a youth-led environmental group in Ghana that empowers young people to act on environmental challenges and climate change. GYEM works by bringing together youth between the ages of 15 to 35 years to address the nature and climate crises through advocacy and campaigns. Between 2019 and 2020, the organization led an advocacy action to promote sustainable plastic waste management solutions through the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge Fund (BUSAC).
Through its Kyensu project supported by International Secretariat for Water (ISW), GYEM also constructed and commissioned a water kiosk in October 2020 for Treba, a low-income peri-urban community located at Kutunse electoral area of Amasaman Constituency in Ga West Municipality of Greater Accra Region. This was in response to perennial water challenges in the community that was worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the international front, the Movement hosted a training workshop and climate justice march involving over 300 youth and activists across Africa and the International Youth Climate Movement, during Africa Climate Week 2019 convened in Accra, Ghana, on March 18-22, 2019. This was the first Regional Climate Week hosted that year; bringing together governments, businesses, and civil society actors who are instrumental in stepping-up climate action on the African continent.