NGOs Partner With EU To Demand Action On Environmental Protection Through Launch of BRACE

A Rocha Ghana, Wacam, and Nature & Development Foundation (NDF) have launched a tripartite project to contribute to sustainable and equitable environmental and natural resource management in Ghana.

The three-year initiative, dubbed "Building Resilient and Active Communities in Extractive Landscapes of Ghana" (BRACE) Project, is funded by the European Union (EU) with an amount of EUR 1.7 million. 

The project targets mining landscapes in the Eastern, Ashanti, Western, Western North, and Ahafo Regions of Ghana. The launch event, held at Kenyasi in the Asutifi North District, Ahafo Region, on Thursday, March 14, 2024, brought together a EU delegation, traditional authorities, representatives of civil society organisations (CSOs) dedicated to environmental conservation and sustainability, academia, state regulatory institutions, and people in communities impacted by mining.

The three local implementing partners presented a united front, calling for urgent actions to protect the rights of people in mining communities across the country. They emphasised the need for the government to do more to protect the environment from especially irresponsible mining practices.

Delivering the keynote address, the Head of Cooperation, EU Delegation to Ghana, Mr Massimo Mina, disclosed that BRACE, with an amount of EUR 1.7 million, represents a significant step towards fostering resilience and creating active empowered communities within the extractive landscapes in Ghana.

According to him, the project was timely, stressing that it will empower affected mining communities to assert their rights, strengthen access to justice of about 200 local communities, and promote good governance and accountability in Ghana’s mining areas.

“The BRACE Project fits very well in the cooperation between the EU and Ghana. For us, promoting good governance and green growth are priorities in Ghana. Together with EU Member States, in a Team Europe approach, the EU is supporting many programmes that open up new ways for sustainable development in Ghana, and which ensure long-term prosperity, a more equal sharing of benefits from growth, and better environmental preservation,” he said.

While admitting that Ghana’s extractive sector was vital to its development, Mr Mina emphasised that “mining has to be responsible.”

“Mining cannot take precedence over human rights of communities and people. Mining needs to truly benefit the people of the country. It needs to respect local people’s rights and livelihoods and meaningful environmental safeguards,” he asserted.

Outlining the goals of BRACE, the Operations Manager at A Rocha Ghana, Daryl Bossu, said the project aims to build the knowledge, capacity, and skills of target groups to hold state and private sector actors accountable for violations of communities' environmental human rights, and provide access to justice systems for local communities whose environmental rights, lands, and natural resources have been violated or are threatened by extractive sector activities.

He went on to state that BRACE will establish mechanisms for communities to engage directly with duty bearers to defend their environmental human rights, and build the capacities of Community Resource Management Area (CREMA) and CREMA Executive Committees (CECs) to implement their CREMA management plans with their CREMA communities.

Early on in a welcome address, the Associate Executive Director of Wacam, Mrs Hannah Owusu-Koranteng, underscored that “the BRACE project marks the beginning of a strategic partnership to develop the needed synergy to address the continuous suffering of affected mining communities which manifest as polluted environment, water and air and the accompanying health issues, the destruction of farmlands and the loss of livelihoods…”

Through the activities of the project, mining communities within the project’s landscapes will be equipped and emboldened to say no to irresponsible mining, she added.

“As we embark on this crucial journey, we acknowledge the challenges that lie ahead. However, we are resolute in our determination to create positive change,” Mrs Owusu-Koranteng affirmed.

For his part, the National Director of A Rocha Ghana, Dr Seth Appiah-Kubi, bemoaned that surface mining, which has become a common mining method in Ghana, has carried with it several implications. Surface mining, he said, impacts the rights of mining communities to property, livelihood, housing, liberty, health, security, and water. Against this backdrop, he maintained that BRACE will enhance the capacities of mining communities to demand that their environmental and human rights be protected.