By rewarding community efforts in collaboration with the World Bank, Ghana is looking to reduce carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. It becomes the third country in Africa to sign the landmark Emission Reductions Payment Agreement (ERPA) with the international financial institution.

As disclosed by the bank, the five-year programme with the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) Carbon Fund, unlocks performance-based payments of up to $50 million for carbon emission reductions from the forest and land-use sectors.

Working in close partnership with Ghana’s Forestry Commission, Cocoa Board, and private sector, the FCPF Carbon Fund program seeks to reduce carbon emissions through the promotion of climate-smart cocoa production.

This agreement is very significant, considering Ghana is one of the top two global producers of cocoa, while the country has one of the highest deforestation rates in Africa, which is largely driven by cocoa farm expansion. Historically, an increase in cocoa production would mean more forests are cut to accommodate new cocoa seedlings, but according to the World Bank, this trend could be reversed.

“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,” Chief Executive of Ghana’s Forestry Commission, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, said.

Through the program, the government will focus on selected deforestation hotspot areas and help farmers and communities increase cocoa production there, using climate-smart approaches. These combined actions will help Ghana to meet its national climate commitments under the Paris Agreement.

More sustainable cocoa farming will help avoid expansion of cocoa farms into forest lands and secure more predictable income streams for communities. And the initiative, Afriyie added, will help to “secure the future of Ghana’s forests while enhancing income and livelihood opportunities for farmers and forest-dependent communities.”

The FCPF Carbon Fund in Ghana commits to making initial results-based payments for reductions of 10 million tons of Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions (up to $50 million). The program also specifies carbon emission baselines, the price per ton of avoided CO2 emissions, and a benefit-sharing system that has been prepared based on extensive consultations with local stakeholders and civil society organizations throughout the country.

“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. Some of the most important cocoa and chocolate companies in the world … as well as Ghana’s Cocoa Board have committed to participating in the program,” the World Bank’s Country Director for Ghana, Pierre Frank Laporte, revealed.

Ghana’s emission reductions program is anchored in its national strategy for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) and is well-aligned with relevant national policies and strategies on wildlife and climate change. Other countries that have signed the agreement over the past ten months include Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with other Carbon Fund countries expected to sign similar agreements in the next year.

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