Mr John Allotey, the Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission, has elucidated extensively on Ghana’s reforestation and afforestation policy, disclosing that it is anchored on community engagement, accountability, and transparency.
He was speaking on behalf of the Sector Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Hon. Samuel A. Jinapor, at a high-level discussion on “Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities as Leaders of Action to Halt and Reverse Forest Loss’. The event was hosted by the Peruvian Government at the ongoing COP28. Mr John Allotey disclosed that the Government of Ghana through the Forestry Commission, has been very open, engaging, and accountable with its forest degradation reversal initiatives.
He noted that the heart of the interventions are community engagement and the involvement of community stakeholders in the planning, execution and monitoring of policies.
He outlined a number of policy interventions which has indigenous people at the core of it and highlighted the transparent nature of the policies.
He touched on the Community Resource Management Area (CREMA) intervention as one of such.
“In Ghana we’ve made a lot of strides in bringing the indigenous people to the table through the measures we’ve put in place. We’ve mobilized the people to form a group made up of community leaders and people around the area. They are involved in designing programs, execution and monitoring. They are also involved in the interventions we execute”, he said
Mr Allotey expanded the conversation globally, urging countries to follow Ghana’s blueprint and ensure the active involvement of residents in their forest preservation plans.
He emphasized on the importance of involving residents right from the embryonic stage of the process.
The Forestry Commission CE noted that such an approach will empower the locals to be interested in and come up with innovative ideas that will guarantee the success and sustainability of the policies.
“The community people are directly impacted by the forest. They derive their food, water, and basically their livelihood from the forest. Any discussion that bothers on forest conservation cannot happen without their involvement. We need to create a situation where they will be part of the process right from the beginning”, he added
“We need to create ownership which means involving them right from the beginning. You need to look at how their needs will be taken care of. If you are able to do that then they will be part of the discussion. In most cases, you have the decision taken from the top level and imposed on them. If you do that, they will not own the process.
“It’s about bringing the key people to the table so that you hear from them and listen to their passions. In these areas, they know how to protect the forest compared to people at the top who sign the agreement. The platform provides a chance for all these persons to be on the same level. The platform provides information sharing”, he stated .
In selecting leaders to represent the indigenous people, Mr. Allotey mentioned that gender manifestation, transparency and the youth should be considered.
He also touched on leadership accountability and governance structure.