Deforestation has many drivers, including the farmers/communities that are illegally encroaching on forest areas to produce cocoa. To stop deforestation and restore forests, some of these communities will need to find alternative livelihood activities and sometimes be relocated. These are sensitive issues that need guidelines to ensure that social and environmental rights are not violated.
For this reason, the Cocoa & Forests Initiative in Ghana set up the Safeguards Task Force, which is composed of CFI signatories, civil society organizations as well as technical partners. It is one of five CFI Task Forces supporting operationalization of the Ghana National Implementation Plan. Its core function is to prepare a Guide to Social and Environmental Safeguards Compliance, which defines a stepwise approach to ensure that implementation of the CFI plans does not cause negative impacts on the environment and the population.
The Guideline is being developed through a review of all major national policiesand regulations surrounding safeguards in Ghana, as well as environmental and social policies of multilateral organizations (the World Bank, the African Development Bank etc), the private sector, and other stakeholders. This is seen of critical importance, because when safeguards conform to existing laws and meet donors’ standards, it is easy to implement them, get local and international approval, resulting in higher quality of execution of the measures.
Daniel Nsowah, from the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, heads the Task Force that has developed the first draft of the Safeguards Guidelines. “The task force has made marked progress in delivering on the tasks given to them by the CFI Steering Committee. At this rate, the Safeguard document should be ready and approved in April 2019. Once the document is approved by the Steering Committee and finalized, it will be launched at a national event, later in the year.”
A similar guideline is being developed in Côte d’Ivoire, where a CFI Social Inclusion Thematic Group has been set up and is mapping out existing social safeguards that could constitute a benchmark for the initiative.