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Ghana - 21 November, 2020
The era when civil society organisations (CSOs) in the forestry, cocoa, mining and environmental sector worked in isolation with its associated difficulties in doing effective advocacy has become a thing of the past. Under the Green Livelihoods Alliance (GLA) project, Tropenbos Ghana has supported and actively worked with CSO networks and coalitions in the sector to provide evidence, lobby and advocacy to influence policies that promote sustainable governance and practices.
CSOs now take collective responsibility for ensuring that the desired change happens in the forestry sector, both in the policy and operational space. There is enhanced awareness and improved knowledge among CSOs, private sector, government and relevant agencies in issues related to sustainable land use, responsible business, collective monitoring and inclusive governance of natural resources. There exists the basic understanding that it takes only a united front for them to catch the attention of government and for their policy-related issues to be addressed.
Explaining the efforts that went into this remarkable development, Project Co-ordinator of Friends of the Earth Ghana, Nehemiah Tettey Odjer-Bio, stated that Tropenbos Ghana had supported the training of CSOs, including the media, in forest and mining laws. He said a media component highlighted challenges faced by farmers and the need for policy intervention. The Legal Working Group also benefited from training in forest laws. These have cumulatively empowered the CSOs’ front to effectively contribute to advocacy and policy influencing in the forestry, cocoa, mining and environmental sectors.
Nehemiah indicated that these advocacy efforts have led to a recognition of the CSOs at the national and landscape levels. “Today, there is general acceptance of our views regarding forest governance and the need to amend the Concession Act of 1962, an Act of Parliament related to tenure of naturally occurring timber tree resources. We have also put together a document, which contains critical issues for political consideration in managing our natural resources, for publication,” said he.
According to Jonathan Gokah, Co-ordinator for KASA Initiative Ghana, a natural resource and environment civil society platform, in the recent past, CSOs in the forestry, cocoa and mining sectors worked as individual organisations in their advocacy efforts. This did not give their engagements with government and relevant agencies the driving force to bring about the needed policy change. He said there is a shift now which has brought several results.
“For instance, currently, we have more than 530 CSOs on an electronic Independent Forest Monitoring platform, working together through a synchronised approach to pursue policy influence and to bring an end to unsustainable and illegal practices in the forestry sector,” said Jonathan.
The GLA is a programme implemented by Tropenbos Ghana in partnership with A Rocha Ghana and Friends of the Earth Ghana. It is aimed at promoting actions that will conserve the remaining forest of Ghana and also promoting international public goods across the globe.