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GH REDD+ Secretariat Supports Community Members to attend COP28

The REDD+ Secretariat of Ghana housed at the Forestry Commission, in collaboration with its private sector partners, has supported three community members to attend the 28th session of the Conference of Parties (COP28) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which was held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) from 30th November to 12th December 2023.

The three members who were selected from the Ghana Cocoa Forest REDD+ Program Area include, Mr. Daniel Amponsah Gyinayeh, Chairman of the Asunafo – Asutifi Hotspot Intervention Area Board; Mr. Augustine Darbo, Chairman of the Ahafo – Ano Hotspot Intervention Area Board and Madam Grace Asare, Kakum Hotspot Intervention Area Member, all cocoa farmers were selected to represent their various communities at the COP 28.

The three, alongside indigenous people and local community representatives from Ecuador and Kenya participated in a side event organized by the Forestry Commission on, “strengthening inclusion in REDD+ results-based payments”. This event was hinged on the fact that REDD + implementation will not be possible without the full inclusion of local communities and marginalized groups, especially women and the youth.

The Ghana Cocoa Forest REDD+ Programme (GCFRP) which was the first among other programmes to be launched under Ghana’s REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) Strategy has been in implementation since 2019 to reduce deforestation and forest degradation from Ghana’s cocoa landscapes. 

The Programme run by the REDD+ Secretariat seeks to incentivize local communities to participate in efforts to reduce deforestation, protect biodiversity, and contribute to sustainable development.

In his opening remarks at the event, the Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission, Mr. John Allotey mentioned that to achieve the Paris Agreement goal of limiting temperature increase to 1.5 degrees celsius, “it is very important that forest- -fringe communities are encouraged to prevent further deforestation and degradation, whilst they adopt sustainable land use practices”.

To this end, he said, the Community Resource Management Area (CREMA), a community – driven mechanism which has been endorsed by the government, has been adopted as one of the ways to natural resource management. He noted that women’s inclusivity is very high in the implementation of the REDD+ mechanism as 40 percent of women have been engaged in all landscape programs. He cited an example by mentioning the Ghana Shea Landscape Emission Reductions Project, another programme in Ghana’s REDD+ Strategy which has employed about 95 percent of women in nurseries establishment, which has greatly improved their living conditions and has also delivered a sense of inclusion and belonging.

Mr. Daniel Amponsah Gyinayeh, made a presentation on “The Fund Flow Mechanism & Inclusion of Local Communities” which is an integral part of a highly consultative, fair and transparent Benefit Sharing Plan. Among other things, he touched on beneficiary performance indicators, as well as benefits the communities and farmer groups have received under the GCFRP. That he said, has motivated local communities and farmers to take up tree planting and nurturing seriously because their efforts are being rewarded.

He stated that the GCFRP which generated results-based payments of which 69% of these benefits have been given to cocoa farmers has also led to their adoption of climate-smart cocoa farming practices including planting and management of shade trees on farmlands. Farmers are therefore steadily avoiding encroachment into forested areas for farming activities and illegalities, whilst at the same time, nurturing and tending trees.

Under the GCFRP benefit sharing, farmers have received inputs like knapsack sprayers, wellington boots, machetes, mist blowers, pruners, and tree seedlings, among others to help in their farming activities.

During the moderated community panel discussions, Madam Grace Asare narrated the impressions of excitement on the faces of the farmers when they received these farm inputs under the GCFRP in Kakum HIA. She mentioned that this is a novelty, to receive benefits under a results-based program, a scenario they never believed could happen until the benefits came in. “Buying farm inputs like machetes and sprayers is difficult for most poor farmers and the GCFRP inputs from the REDD+ has liberated such farmers to work hard and also adopt climate-smart practices for their farms”. She was also full of praise for the additional/alternative livelihood support that has been provided as benefits to cushion farmers to get extra income, especially during the lean cocoa production season.

Participants from Ecuador and Kenya also applauded Ghana for the inclusion of local communities in the REDD+ programme and indicated that it is a good example for other countries to follow as governments do not involve indigenous people and local communities. However, these indigenous people and local communities want to be part of the design and implementation of REDD+ programmes and not just be mere beneficiaries.

In his closing remarks, Hon. Benito Owusu-Bio, MP, the Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, said “The potential of the country to produce high integrity emissions whilst enhancing the adaptation of forest fringe communities is the basic drive for us to do and seek more”.

He also reiterated that “Ghana has been granted USD4 Million to maximise capacity building of local communities and other disadvantaged groups, particularly women and the youth, to ensure their inclusion in results-based climate finance programs such as the GCFRP with assistance from civil society organisations” under the Enhancing Access to Benefits by Lowering Emissions (EnABLE) grant provided by the World Bank.

Concluding his remarks, the Honourable Deputy Minister emphasised on the importance of communities to the REDD+ process by referring to forest-fringed communities as the linchpin of success in the program. He, therefore, called for increased climate finance to support sustainable projects, drive innovation and fortify vulnerable communities.

The three community members described their participation in COP 28 as an eye–opener and a big learning platform for them. They used that opportunity to call on farmers, forest fringe communities and the youth to embrace the REDD+ Mechanism and other tree planting programs in their area as it comes with a lot of benefits to individuals and communities.

They added their voices to call for more climate financing to help push the climate mitigation agenda forward.

Source: Forestry Commission/Publicagenda.news

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