In the run-up to Ghana’s 2020 elections, A Rocha Ghana assessed the manifesto pledges of the two leading political parties – the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) – for their commitments to a green and sustainable Ghana that promotes poverty reduction alongside protecting biodiversity. They proved disappointing in this respect. Overall, both parties promote the same exploitative and extractive systems that have caused the environmental, biodiversity, climate change, and natural resource crisis we are facing as a country. This must change. The World Bank’s “Ghana Country Environmental Analysis” estimated the cost of environmental degradation to Ghanaian society at 10% of Ghana’s GDP in 2017, or US$ 6.3 billion. Continuing to promote development that causes such a huge burden on ordinary Ghanaians is inimical to socially responsible and sustainable development.
The manifesto assessment focused on the topics of forests, wildlife and biodiversity, mining and the environment, climate change, ecological agriculture, green development, and circular economy, Nature-Based Solutions, and COVID-19 and nature. The following is a summary of that assessment.
Protecting Forests, Wildlife, and Biodiversity
Both parties make the usual commitments of forest restoration, enrichment planting, afforestation, buffer zone planting around water bodies, and plantation development. To restate what we have said many times before, plantations are not natural forests. They are usually one species and are also short-term as they are grown solely for harvest. To maximise potential benefits, these projects should move away from monoculture plantations and focus on restoration actions that integrate a diversity of indigenous tree species to support biodiversity and wildlife habitats. Tree plantations can help take pressure off Ghana’s remaining natural forests, as well as help mitigate climate change, but they can never replace natural forests, which must be fully protected from further exploitation, and degraded forests restored.
There is sparse mention by either party of stopping deforestation and forest degradation or protecting wildlife and biodiversity. This is myopic as threats to forests and biodiversity continue to escalate and require urgent action for the protection and sustainable management. More than 2 million people rely on Ghana’s forests for subsistence and livelihoods, but successive governments seem only to value them for unsustainable resource extraction and short-term gain.
Other critical issues overlooked by the manifestos:
Illegal hardwood (Including rosewood and shea trees) felling and trade is not mentioned by either party, nor illegal trapping and trade of other wildlife species. Only the NDC mentions illegal logging by establishing a National Mining and Forestry Initiative to help tackle it.
Neither party mentions a commitment to pass the Wildlife Resources Management Bill that will empower communities to support forest and wildlife protection for all the benefits they bring, including ecotourism, and promote CREMA creation for communities.
No targets on the area of natural forest to be protected. No commitments for wildlife (mentioned once by NDC) or biodiversity (mentioned once by NPP in its 2016 promises) Limited commitment to deal with illegal galamsey mining. Lack of any mention of forests, wildlife, and biodiversity in the NPP ‘Beyond-2020’ manifesto promises, making it unclear if there are any plans for the sector. Continue Here