President of Ghana rallies support to address deforestation and forest degradation 2nd National REDD+ Forum

Oct 23, 2017

2nd National REDD+ forum

On 19 October 2017 in Accra, the 2nd National REDD+ Forum was organised by the Forestry Commission, under the auspices of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, to sensitise stakeholders and the general public on “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation” (REDD+), and to galvanise high-level political support for its implementation in Ghana. The Forum reflected on the importance of strengthening law enforcement to ensure effective management of forest and wildlife resources.

In his keynote address, H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana, referred to his role as Co-chair of the SDG Advocates, set up by the UN Secretary General to promote the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), calling climate change as the greatest threat to the SDGs, and stressing the importance of REDD+, particularly Goal 13 on Climate Action.

He reiterated Government’s commitment to prevent deforestation and forest degradation, and to promote reforestation, forest rehabilitation and forest protection activities. He also urged local communities not to allow illegal logging and mining to continue, and charged security agencies on the roads, ports and borders not to allow illegal timber products to pass without confiscation or with corrupt purpose. The President called upon the various stakeholder – Ministers, the diplomatic corps, as well as all Ghanaians including the youth – to join the fight against deforestation and climate change.

Hon. John-Peter Amewu, Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, outlined Ghana’s forestry related policies and strategies, and recognised the challenges faced when it comes to implementation and enforcement. He also stressed the need to reform the tree tenure system to ensure that land owners and tenants have an incentive to protect the trees on their land/farms.

Her Ladyship Justice Sophia Akuffo, Chief Justice of the Republic of Ghana, said that a strong enforcement regime was critical for REDD+ implementation and for bringing an end to illegal activities. She highlighted her commitment to ensure speedy trials for culprits who engage in acts of deforestation to serve as a deterrent for would-be law breakers.

Her predecessor, Her Ladyship Georgina Theodora Wood, former Chief Justice of Ghana and the Chairperson for the event, said that “we are duty bound to protect the environment for future generations,” and recognised the importance of supporting “environmental justice.”

The 2nd National REDD+ Forum was supported by various partners, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Ghana. In her remarks, the UN Resident Coordinator Ms. Christine Evans-Klock connected REDD+ implementation to the ambitions of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. She recognised the great leadership role that Ghana has played in the REDD+ process at the regional and global levels, but also highlighted how weak law enforcement is preventing the country from reducing the rate of deforestation.

She informed the audience that UNDP, with support from the Italian Government, is partnering with the Forestry Commission to develop a project proposal entitled the ‘Ghana Shea Landscape REDD+ project’ to seek funding from the Green Climate Fund.

The project will focus on the three northern regions, which are fast losing their highly valuable and diverse savanna woodland species. The project will contribute to achieving Ghana’s commitment under the Paris Agreement, and will constitute a breakthrough in the shea sector, by stimulating private sector investments, research and better public services.

As this would be the first time a REDD+ project intervenes in a savanna woodland landscape, this initiative, if successful in Ghana, will have the potential to be scaled up and replicated in similar landscapes in the region.

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