Announced in July, the joint effort – it brings together Ghana’s COCOBOD, its forestry commission and private interests – aims to promote ‘climate-smart cocoa production.
The focus area covers nearly 6m hectres of a ‘biodiversity hotspot’ in the West Africa Guinean Forest, while the broader swath of land accounts for 1.2m hectares of forest reserves and national parks – home to 12m Ghanaians.
“The program's two central goals – reducing carbon emissions in the forestry sector and producing truly sustainable, climate-smart cocoa beans – make it unique in Africa and the first of its kind in the cocoa and forest sectors worldwide,” said Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, CEO of the country’s forest agency.
“This program is helping to secure the future of Ghana’s forests while enhancing income and livelihood opportunities for farmers and forest-dependent communities.”
The program will reward Ghana with up to $50m for carbon reductions of at least 10m tons, funded through the World Bank’s Carbon Fund of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF). In addition to these broad metrics, the plan outlines emission baselines and an estimated cost (per ton) of avoided emissions.
The bank said it held 30-some meetings with more than 40 stakeholders and civil organizations in Ghana to ensure every party was onboard. This approach entailed a Gender Action Plan that addressed the ‘key role’ of women in sustainable land use – and, importantly, their right to ‘benefit equally from results-based payments.’
Country by country progress
Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo both signed ‘landmark’ agreements with the bank in February. Those plans offer the African nations up to $50m at a time for reducing emissions, with payments also funded through the FCPF.
Congo lost more than 300k hectares of tropical rainforest – the world’s second biggest – between 2010 and 2015. The government started working with the World Bank at the start of that loss, bringing 13k hectares of forest ‘exclosures’ (areas free from animal grazing) and 4k hectares of acacia plantations under protection.
Congo’s initiative also follows the lead of the global emissions goals set by the Paris Agreement and the country’s own efforts to “mitigate climate change, reduce poverty, and manage natural resources sustainably,” according to finance minister Yav Mulang.
“Avoiding deforestation and restoring our forests are essential to a safer, climate-resilient and more prosperous future for communities around the world,” said Laura Tuck, VP of sustainable development at the World Bank. “These payment agreements are game changers as they provide financial incentives for communities to manage their forests sustainably.”
With cocoa as the dominant industry in Ghana, it doubles as the primary driver of forest loss. This reality has been exacerbated by recent increases in the logging industry and illegal mining, according to the World Bank.
Pierre Frank Laporte, who heads the company’s Ghana operations, was impressed by the level of stakeholder engagement at both the federal and private level.
“It’s exciting to see the level of stakeholder engagement Ghana has been able to achieve with its emission reduction program, particularly with the private sector,” he said, pointing out Olam Cocoa, Mondelēz and Touton.