TITLE: REDD+ Governance and Finance Integrity for Africa (REDD+IN)
DONOR: European Commission (via Transparency International Secretariat)
DURATION: October 2014 – October 2017
LOCATION: Implementing in Ghana, Cameroon, Zambia, Zimbabwe and with TI Liaison Office to the European Union (TI EU) with outreach activities in Congo, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The REDD+ governance and finance integrity in Africa project has an overall objective to improve anti-corruption policy and practice in REDD+ finance and governance in Ghana.
Specifically the project seeks to among others:
- To strengthen citizens’ engagement to increase the demand for transparency, accountability in REDD+ governance and finance policy development and monitoring;
- To empower potential victims and witnesses of corruption and fraud in REDD+ actions (including land acquisitions) to pursue their corruption-related complaints;
- To strengthen national, regional and global anti-corruption policies and practices leading to REDD+ Safeguards respected in practice and information available in national systems.
The project was initiated as a follow up to the 2011 launch of Transparency International’s Global Corruption Report on Climate Change. The report highlighted the risks in a funding landscape characterised by its complexity nature. It also emphasised in the report that when responsibility for effective spending is shared amongst a multitude of actors, holding decision-makers accountable becomes cumbersome. Initial investigations into the governance of climate funding bodies further pointed to instances of inadequate transparency and lacking or compromised independent oversight across important decision-making processes.
Ghana faces threats of deforestation through annual bush fires, felling of trees for firewood and timber logging, flooding due to unplanned structures as well as overflowing of the Black and White Volta rivers, droughts, particularly in the Northern part of the country and extreme weather conditions leading to illnesses such as Cerebral Spinal Meningitis (CSM).
In Ghana, GII works closely with the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Forestry Commission, REDD+ Secretariat, Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology & Innovation, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Nature Conservation and Research Centre (NCRC) as well as with citizens, traditional authorities and civil society to ensure that all parties are aware of REDD+, existing risks and how corruption can undermine the process. Furthermore, the project seeks to empower citizen groups to engage with the process and monitor REDD+ spending and projects in order to ensure both private and public sector are acting accountably and with integrity.
Specifically, the project has set up volunteers groups referred to as Multi-Stakeholder Platforms (MSPs) whose capacity has been built to monitor REDD+ activities in their districts. Furthermore, GII also undertakes participatory research to identify the areas of corruption risks that exist in Ghana. This is used as a basis to engage decision-makers and influence policies, procedures and practices. GII encourages citizens and particularly members of its MSPs to report corruption or other malpractice in REDD+ activities to the Advocacy and Legal Advice Centre (GII).
Since the project launch in 2014, the REDD+ IN project has been promoting citizen’s active participation in REDD+ and Forestry activities through community sensitization and awareness raising durbars in Twifo Lower Denkyira Hemang (Kakum area), Enchi, Asankrangwa, Juabeso, Nkoransa, Offinso and Duayaw Nkwanta Districts. Community Multi-stakeholder Platforms (CMSPs) has also been established in these districts to facilitate the REDD+ discussions at the local level. An informed and empowered citizenry are well placed to seek redress and demand accountability from duty bearers.
The REDD+ Corruption Risks Assessment analysis and subsequent validation meeting revealed serious concerns about corruption risk in the sector. The study showed that law enforcement, timber harvesting operations, permitting (timber rights allocation), and monitoring of forestry activities are the critical areas where corruption is likely to be wide spread. With respect to possible corrupt practices associated with law enforcement in the forest sector, 40% of 180 respondents surveyed indicated that bribery of forest officers by illegal loggers is the most serious corruption practice. Further corruption risks with regard to award of contracts, procurement of materials and supplies and political interference were elaborated on.
The publication is an important addition to the field in Ghana. This is evidence by the opportunity given to GII to present the report at a public event titled ‘Ensuring Integrity in REDD+ and Forest Climate Finance’ in the European Union Parliament in Brussels.
GII has over the course of 2016 directly engaged more than 700 community members on understanding REDD+ and forest activities. Furthermore, it has introduced more than 160 representatives from public sector and CSOs to an e-learning platform on Governance in Climate Finance.
Some of the community sensitization is already reaping results. Community Multi-Stakeholder Platform Members in Adaa and Ahwerewam in the Offinso district were bold to confront a forest guard who was illegally re-allocating Modified Taungya lands to people he had personally collected money from. The CMSP members were bold to report the incident to the District Forest Manager at the district office and this straight away resulted in the stoppage of the re-allocation and the Forest Guard transferred from the range.
In addition, CMSP members in Asomdwee in the Twifo Lower Denkyira Hemang (Kakum area) district have also formed a REDD+ and Wildlife Club for the youth in the only Juniour High School in the community.