Ahead of much anticipated Cop28 - Ghana to advance ambitious, resilient  plan

Ahead of much anticipated Cop28 - Ghana to advance ambitious, resilient plan

It is widely acknowledged that the world continues to grapple with the effects of climate change, which is considered a critical challenge of our time, together with biodiversity loss and pollution. 

The impacts of climate change are most felt within Asia and Africa, with Ghana having faced, in recent times, many climate-related issues such as flooding, harsh weather conditions and pest outbreaks, affecting food production and local community livelihoods.

It is without doubt that, the greatest threat to human existence is climate change.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Africa has suffered widespread losses and damage due to human-induced climate change, including biodiversity loss, water shortages, reduced food production, loss of lives, and decreased economic growth. 

The Paris Agreement, which was signed in Paris, France, on December 12, 2015, and entered into force on  November 4, 2016, brought nations into a common cause to combat climate change, and provides for global stock-taking on governments’ global efforts to advance the overarching goal of the Agreement’s goal to reduce the global average temperature to as low as 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels.

At the 28 session of the Conference of Parties (COP28) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which will take place, this year, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from November 30 to December 12, the first Global Stock-take will be presented.

It will be a platform for assessing the progress made, so far, in achieving 1.5°C and the gaps that remain, while also providing a unique and nuanced space to discuss climate ambition, implementation plans and the need for finance to deliver urgent climate action.

Ghana, as a respected member of the International Community and ardent practitioner of actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change, which has been demonstrated through our ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions, and which feature the forest sector solutions with the potential to contribute 35% of emissions reductions, will continue to play a lead role in forest solutions to climate change.  

The Lands and Natural Resources Sector, together with its agencies, will undertake various activities at COP28.

 It is important to showcase the multiple benefits derived from attending COP sessions, particularly for showcasing country level policy measures and implementation actions for strategic partnerships and up-scaling.

It is a platform to assess the effects of measures introduced by Parties to limit climate change.

It also provides opportune spaces to contribute to critical decision making on matters of climate change and lend support to other countries needing same. 

A major feature at COP is the World Leaders’ Summit, which is a high-level platform for Heads of State to nuance the needed action for climate, and, also, mention their contributions and progress on implementation.

In November 2021, on the sidelines of the 26 session of the Conference of Parties (COP26), during the World Leaders’ Summit, the President of our Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, joined 140 other world leaders to sign the Glasgow Leaders' Declaration on Forests and Land Use. 

Reverse Forest loss

This commitment seeks to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030 while promoting sustainable development and a just rural transformation.

To ensure accountability for this goal, a high-level partnership of governments concerned about forests and nature-based solutions was established a year after and launched at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, during the World Leaders’ Summit.

 The Partnership, known as the Forest & Climate Leaders’ Partnership (FCLP), was launched by the United Kingdom, as COP26 President, during which the UK was represented by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Ghana by President Akufo-Addo, with 12 other Heads of States in attendance.

This phenomenal partnership currently has 33 countries plus the European Union and is Co-chaired by the United States Special Presidential Envoy on Climate, SPEC John Kerry, and Ghana’s Minister for Lands and Natural Resources.

The Partnership serves as the first non-negotiating functional vehicle, designed to provide high-level political support to advance Forests, Nature and Climate solutions, and also, institute the necessary delivery pathways towards contributions of forests for a 1.5°C world.

The FCLP, in just under one year of its launch, is working on six key initiatives to advance the agenda of the 2030 Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration.

One of such initiatives is dubbed, Country Packages for Forest, Nature and Climate, being spearheaded by the Governments of the United States and Singapore.

The country’s packages are meant to design, develop and implement an integrated system-wide holistic suit of interventions to address Forest Landscape Restoration, according to each country’s Nationally Determined Contributions.

Ghana is one of such countries developing a country package, which was socialised broadly on the sidelines of New York Climate Week in September, 2023, in a workshop which we led with a number of partners, including the World Bank, the Tony Blair Institute and Bezos Earth Fund, and which had in attendance, the governments of the USA, UK, Norway, Singapore and others.

Significantly, the Climate Change Directorate under the Forestry Commission, has put together a Country Package for Ghana which is dubbed; "Resilient Ghana: Advancing Climate Action for Prosperity”. 

This has been structured around three main pillars: 
1. Nature-based industrialisation & rural development which focuses on driving sustainable growth by investing in forest landscape restoration, cocoa and oil palm value chains and also strengthening climate smart agricultural and responsible mining practices; 
2. Future-fit green jobs and livelihoods which aims to build an inclusive, fair and prosperous economy, creating jobs for Ghanaian youth especially in rural areas; and 
3. Scaling climate ambition by establishing adaptive resilience for communities and smallholders to address interlinked challenges of food security/production vulnerabilities and climate change.

When Ghana’s package is fully developed and enacted, we aim to transform the forest landscape economy with a ripple effect on the macro-economy by generating some $12 billion by 2030 through scaling compliance and voluntary carbon markets, promoting sustainable oil palm and cocoa farming models, restoring degraded forest lands and promoting eco-tourism. 

A number of Partners have shown interest in Ghana’s Country Package and we look forward to working with them to announce the package development and commitment to action at COP28.

This is one of our key priorities as a proof of concept of the importance of the FCLP to generate ambition for forests, nature and climate and the announcement will be part of the UAE COP28 Presidency World Climate Action Summit Events, which will feature President Akufo-Addo, in attendance.

The Ministry of Lands, together with its agencies, in particular the Forestry Commission, will also plan and engage in a number of events aside the World Leaders’ Climate Action Summit as detailed below.

• Firstly, the Ministry will organise a high-level event for 
 President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, and other Heads of States to have a round table discussion under the theme; “Leveraging Nature-Based Solutions Towards 1.5°C: Monitoring Progress” which will shed light on innovative in-country frameworks and methodologies for monitoring the progress of nature-based solutions.

• Secondly, the Ministry will host a ministerial panel discussion of ministers of forestry, climate and environmental sustainability under the theme: “Accelerating Forest and Nature Finance Towards 1.5⁰C”, which will explore innovative approaches for mobilizing climate finance for forest countries, enhancing public-private partnerships, and implementing sustainable nature and forestry practices.

This will also be held at the Ghana Pavilion.

This event will benefit greatly from the announcement of Ghana’s Country Package for Forests, Nature and Climate.

• Thirdly, the Ministry will organise a technical knowledge sharing event on “Strengthening Inclusivity in REDD+ Programs”, featuring experiences from the Ghana Cocoa Forest REDD+ Programme coordinated by the Forestry Commission and Ghana Cocoa Board.

This program has achieved its first emission reductions and received payment from the Carbon Fund of the World Bank this year, making Ghana the second African country to achieve this feat.

This session will feature voices from our local communities who are the key beneficiaries of these carbon payments, receiving 69 per cent of the total payments to enhance their farming activities and promote community development.

Local Community representatives will share their experiences so far on this long journey, which begun in 2008, to undertake climate smart agricultural practices to increase yields and enhance forest cover while restoring degraded forest lands. 

• As a fourth action point outside the Leaders’ summit event, in collaboration with the Government of Côte d’Ivoire, the Ministry of Lands will host a roundtable discussion in collaboration with the private sector on the Cocoa & Forest Initiative (CFI).

The CFI is an active commitment of top cocoa-producing countries with leading chocolate companies to end deforestation and restore forest areas, through no further conversion of any forest land for cocoa production, and is currently being implemented in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.

This event, will strengthen collaboration with private sector to fight against deforestation in the cocoa landscapes, and mobilise support for the new phase of CFI (CFI 2.0) from signatories, partners, and the public.

This is expected to feature significant financial contributions from the private sector, to build in-country systems for transparent traceability, especially with the coming into force of the EU Due Diligence Regulations on Deforestation. 

• Again, the Second Lady of the Republic, Samira Bawumia, under the Samira Empowerment and Humanitarian Projects, with the support from the United Nations Mission in Ghana, our Ministry and other Ministries, launched the Africa Women and Children Conference (AFRIWOCC) in August this year, in Accra.

The theme for the maiden event was “Amplifying the Voices of Women and Children in Climate Action”. 

Since its launch with a two-day packed conference of expert panel discussions and exhibitions, the initiative has been lauded within the continent and beyond.

The AFRIWOCC initiative, also, had a debut feature at the Africa Climate Week in September, in Nairobi, Kenya, and will also make a debut feature at the UN COP sessions in Dubai.

The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources is working with AFRIWOCC Secretariat to deliver two events on youth led initiatives and also a high-level discussion on achieving the communique actions which came out of the Accra Conference. 

This will be another high-level event to be delivered at Ghana’s Pavilion and we appreciate the privilege of working with the Second Lady’s Team to deliver these events. 

• Undoubtedly, collaboration with civil society organizations in addressing Climate Change can’t be over-emphasised and Ghana, has a very sound institutional arrangement in articulating this.

Therefore, the Ministry and its agency, the Forestry Commission, will partner the Hands Across the Oceans Foundation (HATOF) to host an Official COP28 Side Event titled; "Safeguarding Women and Children in Nature Based Programs and Projects: Financing What Works". 

One priority desired outcome from COP28, as a precedent of what Country Packages can scale, will be to increase the portfolio of Ghana’s Forest Sector Carbon Trading initiatives for sustainable development.

Since last year, the Forestry Commission has been actively working to deliver these transactions and one of such key discussions has been with the Lowering Emissions by Accelerating Forest Finance (LEAF) Coalition.

The LEAF Coalition involves the governments of the UK, Norway and USA, and about 19 other corporates who have committed to providing payments for results under the Paris Agreement Article 5 REDD+ Mechanism.

This will be a Voluntary Carbon Market Transaction being negotiated between the Forestry Commission and Emergent Forest Accelerator, representing the LEAF Coalition, for vintage emission reductions and removals.

These Emission Reductions will be third party verified and validated according to the ART-TREES Standard for years 2017-2019.

 It is the fervent hope of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources that this transaction becomes fully matured by COP28, to deliver climate finance to achieve our forest sector climate targets.

A public announcement event is scheduled to outdoor this transaction.

The Ministry envisions that these events, effectively delineating Ghana's robust climate actions, particularly nature-based climate action, will attract private and public partners, corporations and governments, philanthropic organisations, and individuals to help us achieve our objectives.

As the COP28 sets to roll on the global stock-take, Ghana is seeking with high priority, to accelerate climate finance commitments.

By this, we anticipate seeing increased financial support from developed countries and private sector, to help finance our adaptation and mitigation efforts.

Adding to this, with our already designed Country Package document, the nation will be calling on philanthropic and grant funders, the development finance community and investors to commit funding to support institutional strengthening that will unlock high impact opportunities in support of Ghana’s sustainable development plan and to kick start investment opportunities.

Needless to say, Ghana through COP28 will be seeking technology transfer initiatives that would enhance the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices, to combat climate change.

Through a South-South cooperation that will be established with the global community after the COP, Ghana expects to, firstly, receive individual and institutional training through diverse capacity-building programs that cover the forestry and agriculture sectors.

Again, Ghana, like many developing nations, will collaborate with other nations in learning and experience sharing on REDD+ and other forest conservation programs, while also benefiting from the knowledge and innovations of others.

 Ghana, through COP28, seeks a fair and equitable approach in which all countries take on their fair share of responsibility in addressing climate change, to increase ambition and resilience.

Through this Conference, Ghana will leverage on the opportunity to advocate for the interests of the African continent as a whole, as it seeks collective action to address the unique climate challenges faced by Africa and her peoples.

For us, here in Ghana, and indeed, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, climate change should be seen as an existential issue, and how it is managed will shape our nation for present and future generations.

Ghana and other African governments and people must take decisive actions before reaching tipping points.

We seek the unflinching support of stakeholders, and invite all stakeholders to join hands with us, as we consolidate the gains we have made in the fight against climate change.

 On this journey we are navigating new paths and partnerships to even do more, towards our Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Agreement and putting in the measures that will lead to a sustainable growth and resilient economy, for the livelihoods of local communities, in the face of a changing climate.

I reference the instructive and inspiring words of the United Nations Secretary General,  António Guterres, when he profoundly said, “the climate emergency is a race we are losing, but it is a race we can win”.

Let us intensify our efforts in fighting climate change and strengthen our resilience and adaptive capacity to climate induced impacts.

The Government of Ghana and the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources hereby, respectfully, call for the support of Ghanaians, residents of Ghana and the global community, in this noble and consequential undertaking.

Together we can win this fight!

The writer is the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources and Member of Parliament for Damongo Constituency in the Savannah Region.

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