Beauty pageants have long been regarded as platforms for contestants to showcase their beauty, talent, and intelligence. However, the beauty industry, if we break it down to cosmeticsand fashionhas also long been under pressure to address its environmental impact. From the extraction of raw materials to the production, packaging, and transportation of products, every step in the supply chain contributes to climate emissions.  

 The SDGs co-hosts together with the beauty pageants representatives after the program had aired.

However, in recent years, these pageants have evolved to encompass a broader scope, aiming to address pressing global issues, such as climate change. Like in many other countries, climate change has become a serious problem in Ghana as can be seen in recent climatic events such as flooding and irregular rain patterns. This indicates that the environment is deteriorating, trees are being cut down, and the normal weather patterns are changing. These shifts are significantly impacting human livelihood with extreme heat in Ghana which in turn affects labor productivity and the natural world.
According to a report by The Climate Reality Project, Ghanaian manual labor capacity is projected to drop by 11% at a 3-degree Celsius increase from 1990 levels due to extreme heat with drought also estimated to affect 13% of the population. Ghanaians are noticing each day that the weather is not like it used to be. Rainfall and temperatures are becoming unpredictable affecting farming and fishing communities. According to a report by The Climate Reality Project, in 2021, approximately 45% of Ghana’s workforce found employment in the agricultural sector, substantially contributing approximately 21% to the country’s overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The majority of these agricultural laborers are engaged in managing small-scale farms that rely on rain-fed irrigation, and these farms are especially sensitive to unpredictable rainfall patterns that are influenced by climate change. These and many more are reasons why Ghana is working on solutions to protect the environment. Recognizing the urgency of these issues, beauty pageants in the country have seized the opportunity to redefine their role.

Beauty Pageants Redefined: Climate Action and SDGs

Beauty pageants have long been cherished in Ghana’s colorful fabrics as a venue for showcasing grace, poise, and charisma. Some of these include Ghana’s Most Beautiful, Miss Maliaka, Miss Earth Ghana, Miss Ghana, Miss Universe Ghana, Miss Grand Ghana, Miss Republic Ghana and many more. In recent times, these pageants have experienced a significant transformation, moving beyond the realm of glamour and beauty to take on a far more important role: promoting climate action and the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
A couple of beauty pageants in Ghana are currently changing from the old-known beauty pageant ways to become forums of social change agents. The attention is now on promoting the SDGs and increasing public awareness of climate change rather than on physical appearances. Entreating young women to assume leadership roles in their communities and being environmental stewards in addition to wearing a crown.

On the SDGHub on Asaase Radio, on October 10, 2023, on the theme Beyond Beauty, supported and delivered by the Center for Sustainable Transformation (CeST) and its program Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) Nana Ahenkan Agyeman (Chief Executive Officer, IGroom Pageants Hub, and Executive Director, Miss Republic Ghana) explained to the co-hosts Rosemary Belami and Kevin Annan, that Miss Republic Ghana was brought to birth as a result of the team's passion for the environment and how best they can contribute to society.

From the stage lights to the streets where environmental campaigns are held, Beauty pageants in Ghana are evolving for the good of the country. Some pageantries are demonstrating that beauty can indeed extend beyond makeup and catwalk for a greater purpose: the preservation of the planet and the advancement of a sustainable future for Ghana. 

One such pageant is Miss Republic Ghana which, in its mission, explicitly states that; “Miss Republic Ghana is a beauty pageant focused on promoting Climate Action and Undiluted Ghanaian culture.” Contestants in Miss Republic Ghana engage in environmental advocacy, tree-planting initiatives, and educational campaigns on climate change. The focus is extended beyond looking good to doing good, making a tangible impact on the nation’s environmental challenges.

In a discussion on the SDG Hub on Asaase Radio on October 10, 2023, Nana Ahenkan Agyeman (Chief Executive Officer, IGroom Pageants Hub, and Executive Director, Miss Republic Ghana) stated that Miss Republic Ghana was brought to birth as a result of the team's passion for the environment and how best they can contribute to society.

 “ I started pageantry 5 years ago. I wanted to work on it. As physician Assistants, we mostly work on health so we decided to start pageantry after winning Miss Commonwealth's first runner-up. As we ran through the series of pageantry, we realized that climate action became a vital program in our society so we decided to take the Sustainable Development Goal 13, which is Climate Action, [to be a main focus in our work]. So it's just out of a passion for our environment and the world and how best we can also contribute to society [that we do this]. That is why we decided to focus on Climate Action with Miss Republic Ghana” she said.

Maame Pokua Opoku ( Queen, Miss Republic Ghana 2023) also added that Miss Republic Ghana serves as a platform for change because it helps Climate and SDG advocates reach a wider audience to put a message across.
“I believe Miss Republic Ghana, which is a Climate Action Synergy platform, allowed me to leverage it with my passion for Climate Change due to three reasons: The first is the fact that it serves as a platform for change. It helps you reach a wider audience to be able to put the message across as the reasons why we need to embark on Climate Change, as young people, it has a diverse impact on our lives: The second was due to personal passion. I'm passionate about Climate Action because as an SDG advocate, I believe they all work hand in hand. So advocating for, Climate Action will affect each SDG. The third fact is that with youth engagement future of the youth depends on now so whatever we do now has an impact on our future. It helps by allowing me to engage with my peers to bring up initiatives that affect our future.” She said.

In today’s world where climate change poses a dire threat to shared futures, beauty pageants stand as a beacon of hope, challenging stereotypes and proving the fact that the power of transformation is not limited to individuals but can extend to society and the environment as a whole. By leveraging the influence, beauty pageants are turning the spotlight onto the most critical issue humanity faces today, inspiring a collective effort towards a sustainable and harmonious future for our planet. Through advocacy, beauty queens are not just redefining beauty standards; they can challenge the climate footprint of the beauty industry itself, and as such be part of redefining Climate awareness and Climate Action in Ghana and the world.

Written by: By Faustina Yeboah -  CeST news.