Elevating the perspectives and concerns of young people
Kwame Ofori is a computer systems auditor and an advocate for toxic-free chemicals and waste who works to mobilize young people across Africa in support of a safer future.
He is Founder of the AKO Foundation, an organization based in Accra focused on environmental education, advocacy, and inclusion related to chemicals and waste management, agribusiness, and climate change. He is also Founder of the African Youth Alliance for Chemicals and Youth (AYACW), Co-founder of the African Youth SDGs Summit, and Co-initiator of IPEN Youth Caucus.
In an interview, he shared his hopes for the GEF Assembly in Vancouver and offered a message to today’s business and political leaders about the importance of prioritizing harmful substances in addition to working to address biodiversity loss and climate change.
You have launched several environmental organizations and are a strong advocate for action on toxic chemicals and waste. What does this volunteer work involve?
My main focus is on empowering and mobilizing African youth about the environment, and finding avenues for their inclusive participation and collaboration with regard to sustainable chemicals and waste management. The ultimate goal is to create a future where the African continent is free from toxins and harmful substances.
This work is not easy but I find it very satisfying. As a Co-initiator for IPEN Youth, I had the privilege of advocating for youth representation in Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management IP4.1, where I contributed to writing the first youth text. I also worked to organize the first BRS COPs youth side event in Geneva, where young people helped shape discussions about sustainable chemicals management. I was very happy to see that the perspectives and concerns of young people were properly acknowledged there.
What message do you have for today’s political and business leaders?
A future free from toxic chemicals is essential for our well-being. Let us embrace courage and actively fight against the presence of these harmful substances by all. I believe it's essential for us to give as much attention and support to action on chemicals as we do for other environmental concerns including biodiversity and climate change.
What are your other professional interests? Do you have any hobbies?
I have a postgraduate diploma in business analytics and work as a computer systems auditor. This role involves inspecting and ensuring the security of computer systems and networks, and approving the necessary measures to safeguard these systems and their data. A big part of this is helping organizations to manage old or obsolete IT equipment. This is where my “day job” and environmental interests intersect: I strongly advocate for the proper disposal and recycling of electronic waste to prevent harmful materials from entering landfills and to minimize the environmental impact of e-waste.
Beyond this, in my spare time, I love playing soccer and volleyball. I also formerly competed in shotput in the Ghana Interpolytechnic Games.
What are you looking forward to at the GEF Assembly?
I am eagerly anticipating a constructive and positive experience, particularly focusing on addressing chemical pollution. My hope is that this event will prioritize allocating resources to raise awareness about the impacts of chemicals on both humans and the environment.