Thursday, 24 September 2015

An Important European Union Carbon Offset Initiative To Create Wealth In Rural Ghana?

Recent media reports that an agro-forestry carbon offset initiative, in which the European Union (EU) will apparently make regular bi-annual payments to businesses, communities and individuals in rural Ghana that establish tree plantations - in a project it is collaborating with the Forestry Service Division (FSD) of the Forestry Commission (FC) to implement -  is welcome news indeed.

For those of us who have advocated for just such  carbon offset agro-forestry  schemes across rural Africa, for nearly two decades now, it can't come soon enough.

It will most certainly help increase Ghana's forest cover at a time when global climate change is impacting Africa negatively - and create wealth and jobs galore across rural Ghana: as well as help improve the living standards of many rural dwellers.

It is precisely such schemes, which will eventually help stem the tide of boatloads of young African migrants illegally entering Europe, by crossing the Mediterranean Sea in leaky rust-buckets, from the north African coastline.

The entire processes of the carbon offset  agro-forestry scheme ought to be transparent, inclusive and benefit as many young Ghanaians as possible. It must not be allowed to be engulfed by the miasma of corruption.

And the EU should encourage European businesses to participate in it to make it a market-driven scheme. In that regard they could work with organisations such as  the US-based Carbon Offsets To Alleviate Poverty (COTAP.org).

To ensure that good governance principles underpin it, it is vital that the EU replicates the US Millennium Challenge Corporation's stringent disbursement rules for this all-important project - so that an already overburdened and poorly-resourced FSD isn't saddled with an additional task the handling of which could create disaffection amongst participating individuals, communities and businesses - should bottlenecks create delays in payments.

To build sustainability into it, why not develop it into a Ghanaian-EU B2B market-driven local carbon credit scheme, for Ghanaian and EU businesses to offset their  entity-value-chain carbon-footprint, I ask? They could tap into COTAP.org's considerable experience on that front.

The FSD and the  EU Office in Ghana, should embark on a nationwide education campaign, in the print and electronic media, to alert those interested in establishing agro-forestry plantations for carbon offsets, about the new green econony business opportunity that has  opened up for them to receive regular bi-annual payments for growing trees.

This new EU agro-forestry carbon offset initiative also presents District Assemblies across the country, with the opportunity to create new revenue streams, which they could use to fund district-wide development projects.

And when the trees finally mature, they could also generate income when tree plantation owners participate in carbon sequestration schemes too.

To those of us for whom supporting market-driven schemes aimed at improving living standards in rural areas is a passion, this carbon offset agro-forestry initiative, definitely is one of the most important EU rural  wealth-creation projects ever undertaken in Ghana. Good to see ideas that some of us have recommended for years to our hard-of-hearing ruling elites finally being implemented. Marvelous.

Post Script

And, going off tangent, hopefully, in the not too distant future, Ghana will climate-change-proof its road network, at no extra cost to taxpayers, by building only plastic roads - which are made by using the  simple technology of mixing melted plastic waste with bitumen.

Such roads bear heavier loads than normal roads;  never get washed away by flash floods, because plastic is impermeable to water; remain pothole-free throughout their lifespan and last three times longer than ordinary asphalt roads. Brilliant

However, the question is: Will our hard-of-hearing ruling elites take heed and ask the Building and Road Research Institute (BRRI) of the  Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to take steps to transfer that simple technology to road contractors throughout Ghana? One hopes so.


























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