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Ghana to benefit from LEAF coalition’s US$ 1bn fund for forest preservation

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The Government of Ghana, through the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, and the Lowering Emissions by Accelerating Forest Finance (LEAF) Coalition, through Emergent, a US-based non-governmental organization, have signed a Letter of Intent (LOI), to enter into negotiations for an agreement to provide financing to fight climate change through forest protection and reforestation.

The signing of the LOI marks a major step towards accessing part of the USD1,000,000,000 being mobilized by the LEAF Coalition to support tropical and subtropical jurisdictions in making substantial reductions in their emissions from deforestation.

In April 2021, the Governments of the United Kingdom, the United States, and Norway, together with some leading global companies, launched LEAF as a voluntary global coalition to bring together companies and governments, to provide finance for tropical and subtropical forest conservation commensurate with the scale of the climate change challenge.

The Coalition aims to raise global climate ambition and contribute to halting tropical and subtropical deforestation and forest degradation by 2030, by ensuring that tropical and subtropical forest jurisdictions have access to large-scale, predictable performance-based finance, to enable them to invest in reduced deforestation and sustainable rural development.

The Coalition is, therefore, mobilizing, at least US$ one billion, to support tropical and subtropical jurisdictions to reduce emissions from deforestation.

Following “Call for Proposals”, which thirty countries participated, and after the initial technical screen by a panel of experts, Ghana, Nepal and Ecuador were selected to sign a Letter of Intent with the Coalition as a major step towards signing a binding Emission Reduction Purchase Agreement to access the funds.

Speaking at a ceremony to mark the signing of the LOI on the side-lines of the ongoing twenty-sixth session of the Conference of Parties (COP26) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), on Wednesday, 3rd November, the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Hon. Samuel A. Jinapor, MP, underscored the importance of forests and other nature-based solutions to the fight against climate change.

He noted that the protection of tropical and subtropical forests, particularly, was crucial, to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius target.

He commended the members of the LEAF Coalition for the initiative and pledged the commitment of the government of President Akufo-Addo to work with them and other stakeholders to come to grips with the climate crisis.

Mr. Jinapor, outlined, in detail, the range of policies and programs being pursued by the Akufo-Addo government to halt deforestation and forest degradation while ramping-up afforestation and reforestation.

This high-profile event was attended by the 2004 Democratic Nominee for President, Former Secretary of State, and U.S Special Envoy for Climate Change, Hon. John Kerry, who made a passionate statement in support of the LEAF Coalition effort.

Later that day, at an event dubbed, “Beyond the Talk” held at the Ghana Pavilion at COP26, to showcase Ghana’s forest sector climate solutions, the Minister bemoaned the alarming rate at which the world’s forests are being depleted, and called on world leaders to go “beyond the talk” and act to halt climate change.

He observed that despite appreciating the enormity of the climate crisis, our world is not doing enough beyond talks, resolutions, and commitments, and thus the need for world leaders to demonstrate real and measurable actions for the 1.5 degrees Celsius target to guarantee a sustainable future for our planet.

“The world keeps getting warmer, rain patterns are changing, ice in the Antarctic and glaciers are melting, and sea temperatures are rising. In Ghana, our savannah ecological zone is getting drier and more humid, as our primary tropical and subtropical forests are being depleted,” the Minister noted.

He emphasized the importance of forests to climate action and charged all stakeholders to adopt policies to protect the world’s forests.

Mr. Jinapor also participated in a panel discussion on the Cocoa and Forest Initiative (CFI) where he highlighted some of the achievements of the CFI since its inception, including setting the floor price for cocoa to ensure farmers get value for their cocoa, the introduction of the living income differential, and above all, its contribution to halting deforestation and climate change.

Finally, the Minister was the keynote speaker at a high-level event organized by the Voluntary Carbon Market Integrity Initiative (VCMI) on “Delivering High-Integrity, Inclusive Voluntary Carbon Markets for 1.5oC”, held at the Nature Pavilion. In his address, the Minister said the huge financial resources required to deal with climate change call for diversification of climate financing, including, the voluntary carbon market.

However, this must be done with integrity, as the carbon market is not an absolute substitute for emission reduction strategies. He pledged Ghana’s support to the VCMI “to provide the benchmark for transparency, accountability, additionally, inclusivity, and permanence in voluntary carbon market transactions.” He also challenged the leadership of VCMI to identify existing and ongoing processes, such as the Forest, Agriculture, and Commodity Trade (FACT) Dialogue, to draw useful synergies with and maximize impact.

The Minister is leading a delegation from the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources at the ongoing COP26 in Glasgow, to discuss forests, land use, and nature-based solutions to climate change. On Saturday, 6th November, the Minister will participate in an event organized by the UK Government to launch the Forest, Agriculture, and Commodity Trade (FACT) Dialogue Roadmap.

Later that day, he will be the keynote speaker at an event on the Progress of Implementation of the Marrakesh Commitment on Responsible Oil Palm Development in Africa, and later hold a working meeting with The Rt. Hon. George Eustice, MP, the UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to discuss mutual matters relating to land and forest sector.

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