Republic of Ghana: the Challenge of Climate Change

Research Paper (postgraduate), 2010

46 Pages, Grade: A





3 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT IN GHANA: Towards a National Policy on Climate Change?

4.1.1 The World Bank: towards an Economy of Adaptation
4.1.2 The United Nations: Moving Forward with UNFCCC
4.1.3 The European Union: a Global, Comprehensive Approach
4.1.4 USAID West Africa’s Commitment
4.1.5 GTZ: Coherent, Holistic and Market Oriented

5 PROBLEMS, HYPOTHESIS, PERSPECTIVES: The need of a “capable” state and a “coherent” international community





According to Angel Gurria, Secretary General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), tackling Climate Change can be considered the greatest environmental challenge the world is facing today.[1] Developing countries are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of Climate Change because they heavily rely on climate-sensitive sectors, with a high dependence on natural resources, a high level of poverty, low levels of education and limited human, institutional, economic, technical and financial capacities to cope with them.

In particular, Africa is one of the most vulnerable continents to Climate Change and variability. Ghana, is an example of how Climate Change, especially global warming and rain variability, can affect negatively the human and economic development of a country. The impacts are significant, and affect more or less indirectly all the eight Millennium Development Goals: eradicate poverty and hunger (1), promote gender equality (2), improve health and child mortality (4, 5, 6), ensure environmental sustainability (7) and foster global partnership (8). In particular, in Ghana (despite of its relative good position in terms of Human Development Index[2] among sub-Saharan African countries), poverty is a predominant multi-dimensional phenomenon. Poverty has a dynamic attribute in the sense that it changes over time across space and individuals, through natural hazards, war and politics. But while the latter are directly man-driven, natural hazards, climate variability and global warming are global effects not easily under man’s control. They remain however, at least for the moment, manageable, through adaptation and mitigation strategies. The role of the international community towards these commitments is central. It’s clear, that as a broad development challenge, Climate Change mitigation and adaptation need also to be mainstreamed into the national governance organization and processes. .

This research paper tries to give an overview on how the issue of Climate Change is being addressed in Ghana at a national and international level, through bilateral and multilateral cooperation. After a short presentation of the areas in which Climate Change effects are more visible, a description on the main national commitments and international projects will be outlined. The final chapter will then address the question how can Climate Change be more efficiently mainstreamed into the national development policies and how far does the international community take coherently part in this project. By focusing on the link between the Ghanaian political and economic structures and the implementation of internationally driven projects, some of the weaknesses emerging within this process will be highlighted.

The whole research has been conducted on the ground, with the consultation of renowned experts in the field. The fact of working with the German Development Cooperation on this topic has enabled me to have an insight on how bilateral and international cooperation address such an issue in a west African middle- income country.


The Ghanaian Environmental Protection Agency and the Delegation of the European Union in Ghana have identified in Ghana ten main areas of potential vulnerability to Climate Change[3]:

1. Land degradation and soil erosion: In Ghana, land degradation together with desertification is a growing threat. It is manifested by soil erosion, loss of vegetative cover of land, biodiversity erosion, and breakdown of natural ecosystems, aridity and others such as manifestation of adverse changes in the natural environment. Out of the country’s total land’s surface, 23% is prone to very severe sheet and gully erosion, 46% to severe erosion and 31% to moderate to slight erosion.[4] The soil erosion is common and severe in areas of extensive vegetation removal in all the major ecologic zones: forests, savanna and forest-savanna mosaic zones. Due to population pressure and intense cultivation, the Upper East Region suffers from enormous rates of soil erosion.[5] Increased cultivation has contributed to less vegetation cover, and the precipitation pattern, with heavy rains on a very dry unprotected soil, increase the risk of soil erosion. Though soil erosion, nutrients and organic matter are removed, thereby affecting soil fertility and agricultural production capacity. As the two major sources of revenue are agriculture and mining industry (occupying about 80% of the population), poverty is highly connected with access and use of land for economic activities. The cost of soil degradation due to soil erosion has been estimated in 2006 to be at least 1.1% to 2.4% of the total Ghana’s GDP, with a dramatic reduction of employment in this domain. The eastern shores of Ghana also see an erosion of about three meters per year. This is a serious problem as an intense concentration of population live in the coastal area: Ghana’s coastal districts represent approximately 6% of the country but are home to 25% of the nation’s population[6].

Always connected with the problem of desertification is the vulnerability of some of some staple food crops, notably cassava, plantain and cocoyam, which are basic to the population. Other fruits, vegetables, animals and plants are considered as equally vulnerable.[7]

2. Water resources: climatic variability has resulted in shrinking freshwater resources; water supply has reduced in the coastal areas and in international shared basins (such as the Volta Basin) due to shorter rainy seasons. The National Climate Change Committee has predicted that the rainfall will decrease on the average by 29%, 10% and 18% by 2020, 2050 and 2080 respectively[8]. Furthermore, three of the country’s major water bodies, namely the River Pra, the River Tano and Lake Bosumtwi, are reported to be drying up at an high rate, as the coastal erosion is about three meters per year[9]. On the other hand it is predicted that the sea level, using 1990 as the mean, will rise approximately of 5.8 centimeters, 16.5 centimeters and 34.5 centimeters by 2020, 2050 and 2080 respectively, due to a rise of the average global temperatures.

3. Biodiversity and wildlife: the presence of animals and protected species is decreasing because of land degradation, competition for land, unsustainable exploitation and negative land management. Furthermore, continuous variations in the coastal climate, and consequently in the salinity level, air and water temperature, water quality and water levels are destabilizing the distribution of fish population and decreasing the amount and the size of certain types of fish, staple food in the Ghana’s economy, namely the fresh water Tilapias and Flat and Round Sardinellas.[10]

4. Forest reserves: originally forests covered about 36% of Ghana’s territories. This has been reduced in the course of time to 10.2% (2000), again because of competition for land and unsustainable deforestation and desertification. Because of forest reduction Ghana is now more often affected by scarcity of fresh water, loss of fertile soils, loss of fuel wood, loss of timber, food insecurity and high vulnerability (most of all in the rural areas) to natural and human disasters.

5. Human health: Climate Change and increased temperatures have caused a higher incidence of vector and water-borne diseases, for instance Malaria and Cerebrospinal Meningitis. Furthermore, it has been proved that other typical sub-Saharan diseases like Guinea Worm, Cholera, Measles, Diarrhea and others are positively correlated with the level of humidity and the mean air temperature.[11]

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6. National revenue: would decline as a result of impact on agricultural production (especially on cocoa), logging, ecotourism and pastoralism[12].

7. Tourism: may decline, because of the degradation of the coastal infrastructure, the impacts on natural parks and ecosystems.

8. Women and the poor: women are often more vulnerable to disasters, through their socially constructed roles and responsibilities. In general, they have less access to resources that are essential in disaster preparedness, mitigation and rehabilitation[13]. Gender division of labor often results in the over representation of women in the agricultural and informal sectors, which are more affected by Climate Change. In addition, women are normally also responsible for food collection and energy supply as well as care-giving tasks with children and elderly. When a natural disaster strikes they often face problems related to gender discrimination: they have less decision-making power and normally lack in information and participation.

Poor people are also major victims of natural disaster and Climate Change as they have fewer resources to protect themselves, fewer means to afford medicals expenses and often less knowledge and preparedness to face critical situations.

9. Energy/ hydropower production: decreases as a result of declining water resources, and affects the use of this renewable energy.

10. Security: Climate Change is likely to cause conflict for resources, movement of population and infrastructure, most of all from the coastal areas, where the risk of flooding is higher. According to the National Climate Change Committee, about 132.000 people living on the coast would be affected by coast erosion and increase of the sea-level: most of them are going to increase the number of environmental refugees.

Examples of major projected impacts or sotae'ed sectors

illustration not visible in this excerpt

2. ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT IN GHANA: Towards a National Policy on Climate Change?

Since the constitution of fourth Republic in 1993, Ghana has started taking into account the conditions of its environmental reality, as the provision on the Environment in the article 36 (9) of the Constitution states:

“The state shall take appropriate measures needed to protect and safeguard the national environmentfor posterity; and shall seek co-operation with other states and bodies for purposes ofprotecting the wider international environment for mankind”[14]

Actually Ghana’s environmental policy is a result of a series of government actions started at the end of the 80s, early 90s, with the Environmental Action Plan and the National Environmental Policy, the ultimate aims of these policies being respectively:

1. The maintenance of ecosystems and ecological processes essential to the functioning of the biosphere and a sound management of natural resources and the environment;
2. Protections of humans, animals, plants and their habitat;
3. Guidance for healthy environmental practices in the national development effort;
4. Integration of environmental considerations in sectoral, structural and socio-economic planning at all levels;
5. Seek common solution to environmental problems in West Africa, and the world at large.[15]

Before addressing the specific issue of Climate Change in Ghana, the government adopted a series of plans and policies, some of which were indirectly related to the problem solving of the negative effects of Climate Change in the country. At least four of them can be mentioned:

1. The National Forest and Wildlife Policy (1994): sought to promote the conservation and sustainable use of nation’s forests and wildlife resource. The policy was followed in 1996 by the Forestry DevehpmentMaster Plan, spanning for a period of fourteen years (1996-2020). The plan has the key objectives of enhance the management of Ghana’s permanent state of forests and wildlife sources, by promoting viable and efficient forest-based industries, public awareness and involvement of rural people in forests and wildlife conservation, research-based technology, technology-led forestry and wildlife management and finally by developing an effective capability at national, regional and district levels.[16] To enable the Government implement the commitment made in the Forestry Development Master Plan, resources, drive and focus have been channeled through a multi-donor assisted program called the Natural Resources Management Program (NRMP)[17]. A part of the Forestry Commission’s commitment is also ensuring the sustainable management of Ghana’s forests through the Ghana’s National Strategy for Reduced Emission from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD). At present the strategy, as defined in the Bali Action Plan (UNFCCC Dec 1/CP. 13) relates to reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation, the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks all within development countries.[18] Ghana is one of the first African countries to initiate the development on a national strategy on REDD. To support the process of reduction in emissions from deforestation and degradation, the Government of Ghana sought and received support from the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF). This support follows a three phase process, shaped by an initial preparation document called R-pin, an R-Plan Development phase, begun in April 2009 and the implementation of the R-plan, a detailed reference scenario supposed to be implemented within 2009 and 2012. Through these three components the REDD strategy is being up to assess Ghana’s existing levels of carbon stocks, measure and monitor levels of deforestation and degradation, as well as set up the appropriate institutions to manage carbon transaction and sustainable forestry management.

2. The Soil Fertility Management Plan (1998): encouraged the sustainable use and conservation of land, through crop rotation, agro-forestry, soil and moisture conservation practices.

3. The National Action Program to Combat Drought and Desertification (since 2004): has been developed to fulfill one of the obligations of the country under the United Nation Conventions to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). It provides a long term strategy to address land degradation in Ghana.

4. The Water Policy (under finalization): aims at ensuring effective development and management of the country’s water resources while maintaining biodiversity and the quality of the environment.

Ghana’s national strategy on Climate Change is strongly supported and often driven by the international community, namely international organizations and NGOs. The country has ratified the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)[19] in 2003. Programs and projects carried out as a result of Ghana’s obligation under the convention include the establishment of a Climate Change Commission to facilitate awareness creation and sensitization on issues of Climate Change, phasing out the use of ozone depleting substances and stabilizing green house gases concentration in the atmosphere.

As a party to the convention, Ghana has also prepared her first national communication, which was funded by Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Netherlands Climate Assistance Program (NCAP). The specific purpose of the NCAP is to strengthen the knowledge base at a national level, on vulnerability and adaptation to Climate Change in the areas of human health, fisheries, agriculture and land management, by focusing on capacity building, dissemination of the outcomes of the first national communication and sensitization of policymakers (especially parliamentarians and ministries)[20].

Until 2009, Ghana has also signed some other international agreements relating to the issue, namely Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection and Wetlands[21], and recently another agreement on the Marine Life Conservation has been signed but not yet ratified. Through these policies the government has stressed on the importance of raising education, training and public awareness about the environment, improving the quality of data on the effect of Green House Gases and reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the energy sector, improving the quality of agriculture data for Climate Change analysis, adapting to the effects of water resources on coastal zones and agriculture and increasing the monitoring activities on the effects of Climate Change in the country.[22]

Ghana is also a signatory, since 1992, of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), whose main objectives are promoting the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from the use of genetic resources and the appropriate transfer of and access to generic resources. The National Government ratified it in 1994, with the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology (MEST) as the primary implementing Agency.

In 1994, also the Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD) was introduced in Ghana with the objectives of combating desertification and mitigating effects of droughts in serious desertification and/or drought occurring in the country.

Finally, during the last decades, a series of institutions with environmental responsibilities were developed. Although their goals have been ambitious and important, some of them have been fostering weak environmental governance, lacking in institutional capacity for enforcement of policies and regulations, and being often characterized by a duplication of roles among them.

National Institutions with Environmental Responsibilities (ranked by level of importance):

The need of the government institutions to strengthen technical capacity and deliver a scaled up action on climate change is real. According to the UNDP[23], Ghana should be supported domestically in meeting its obligations under the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol and the commitments from the Ghana’s association with the Copenhagen Accord. Although the government is rather sensitive to the impact of disasters, disaster risk management should be fully integrated into the political agenda, with a better coordination of the Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction Initiative. On the other hand, there is also the need to enhance innovation, deployment, transfer and commercialization of renewable energy technology: although Ghana seems to have a good potential to develop the low-carbon path, this seems to be largely untapped.


4.1 The World Bank: Towards an Economy of Adaptation

The World Bank has been focusing its strategy on Climate Change on the concept of global cooperation across borders. Since 2005 the Group of Eight asked the World Bank to develop a plan for more investments in clean energy in clean energy in the development world, in cooperation with many other financial institutions. The Work Bank group is in this way helping support developing countries and contributing to a global solution, while differing and providing the needs of development country partners.

During the Annual Meetings the Development Committee prepared an operational response to the issue of Climate Change; the Framework highlighted several points of commitment, whose main focus is to identify and tap new business opportunities for developing countries and helping them cope with new risks related to this issue. The project aims also to support development success while offsetting costs caused by environmental degradation through a climate-dedicated finance.

At the same time an important energy-related project, the Clean Energy Investment Framework, has been set up to help the transition of developing countries, especially in Africa, to a lower carbon development path and to adapt to climate variability and change, through new investments.

Globally, the goals of the World Bank Group towards the issue of climate change in the last five years have been the followings[24]:

1. Support climate actions in country-led development processes;
2. Mobilize additional concessional and innovative finance;
3. Facilitate the development of market-based financing mechanisms;
4. Leverage private sector resources;
5. Support accelerated development and deployment of new technologies; and

6. Step up policy research, knowledge, and capacity building.

Beyond these general commitments also specific country projects are going on in Ghana under the direction of the World Bank International Development Association. Since 2008 the World Bank has been multilaterally cooperating with the Ghanaian government (especially under the direction of the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning) and with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in a project called Economics of Adaptation to Climate Change (EACC).

The Strategy states that the cost between 2010 and 2050 of adapting to an approximately two degrees Celsius warmer world by 2050 is in the range of 75 to 100 billion a year.[25] Developing countries are facing not only a deficit in adapting to current climate variation but also deficit in providing education, health, housing and other services. The proposed adaptation measures can be classified, according to the study, by the initiating economic sector — public or private. In all sectors, “hard” options involving engineering solutions were favored over “soft” options based on policy changes and social capital mobilization. Countries have three main possibilities towards the issue: they can fully adapt, so that the society finds again the same balance as it was before climate change; they can choose to do nothing, suffering the full impact of climate change, or they can decide to adapt at a level where the benefits from adaptation equal their costs. The study assumes that the countries will adapt up to the level at which they enjoy the same level of welfare in the future world, as they would have without Climate Change.[26]


[1] Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Tackling Climate Change Adaptation into Development Cooperation, Policy Guidance, Paris, 2009, p.3

[2] Ghana’s Human Development Index: 0,526 (Medium Human Development); retrieved in October 2009

[3] The Delegation of the European Commission to Ghana, News Letter, The European Union in Ghana, Accra, 2009

[4] Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), op.cit, p.122

[5] See annex 6

[6] L. Hens and E. K. Boon, Institutional, Legal and Economic Instruments in the Ghana’s Environmental Policy, Free University of Brussels, 2009

[7] Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), op. cit, p.139

[8] K. Yeboah, Climate Change Committee, Climate Change threatens three water bodies, Daily Graphic, Accra, 2010

[9] Ibidem

[10] Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), op. cit, p.51

[11] Ibid., chapter 3

[12] The Delegation of the European Commission to Ghana, News Letter, op. cit, p.9

[13] WEDO, ABANTO, ActionAid, ENDA, Gender, Climate Change and Human Security: Lessonsfrom Bangladesh, Senegal and Ghana, Accra, 2008.

[14] Web source: http:/ / living/ constitution

[15] The Delegation of the European Commission to Ghana (2006), op. cit, p.36.

[16] Web source: http:/ /

[17] The description of the program is found in the chapter 4.1, as part of the donors 'cooperation.

[18] Web source: http:/ /

See annex 8

[20] Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), op. cit.

[21] CIA World Factbook, New York, 2009

[22] In matter of Climate Change monitoring, the Ghanaian Government and its agencies, in line with the United Nations, work with a series of human development indicators (Ibidem) namely:
1. Atmosphere — emission of Green House gases, consumption of Ozone depleting substances and ambient concentration of air pollutants in urban areas;
2. Forests — forest areas as a percentage of land area;
3. Fresh water — annual withdrawal of ground and surface water as a percentage of total available water and biological Oxygen demand of selected rivers and lakes;
4. Biodiversity — protected areas as a percentage of a total land area and abundance of selected key species;
5. Coastal zones — degradation of the coast and percentage of population living in coastal areas.

[23] UNDP Ghana, Annual Work Plan 2010, New York, 2010

[24] Web resource: http:/ / climatechange

[25] World Bank, The Global Report of the Economics of Adaptation to Climate Change Study, Washington, 2008

[26] Ibid., p.3

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Republic of Ghana: the Challenge of Climate Change
Free University of Berlin
Introduction to Africa´s Political and Economic Systems
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Republic, Ghana, Challenge, Climate, Change
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Anna Praz (Author), 2010, Republic of Ghana: the Challenge of Climate Change, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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