The Head of Programmes for Civic Response, Albert Katako says they are pushing the Civil Society agenda of ensuring that community rights are respected through the collection of information to determine how the implementation of Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) is going to affect the livelihoods of communities and other stakeholders.
Speaking at the Project Inception Workshop on October 22, 2019 at Miklin Hotel, Accra, he indicated that, “When we collect those information, it will enable us to know what mitigation strategies to develop and the information will make us know what has actually changed whether it is for the better or otherwise.”
He added that there has been a lot of transformation happening within the forest sector and now decisions are not imposed by government but by all the stakeholders involved in the project which makes it easier to implement decisions made.
“We are working with the communities on a daily basis by training them to be aware of their rights as enshrined in the law and the rules and responsibilities of the other stakeholders who are interested in the forests such as timber companies”, he indicated.
Chris Beeko, Director, Timber Validation Department at the Forestry Commission on his part said the VPA is making sure that the forest resources are legally harvested, processed, traded and then are tax based. "Thus, when the ordinary person goes to the market to buy timber he or she will be looking at whether the timber is coming from legal sources or not."
On his part, Joseph Osei, of Resource Trust noted that the window districts are where most of the VPA interventions are being implemented which is a good choice to look at monitoring impacts. "The window districts are Goaso, Bole,Nkawie, Akim Oda and Sefwi Wiawso where data are going to be collected to determine the VPA impact monitoring on forests in Ghana which is going to be ran for 16 months."
Peter Takyi Peprah, Director, Field Operations Section of the Statistical Service noted that,”…Sustainable Development Goals has compelled us to measure a lot of statistical indicators. And therefore it is important to work with us so that we can standardize or they go with a standardized methodology of these indicators which can enable them to compare these indicators with that of other countries. So we’ve been working with them and we are going to continue working with them till they come out with the report of the exercise they’re going to do.”
VPA is a partnership bilateral agreement between Ghana government and the European Union (EU) to ensure that Ghana trade in legal timber and come out with a framework.
Also in attendance of the workshop were Clare Brogan, FLEGT facilitator and Christopher Ackon, Programme Manager, EU Delegation to Ghana.