Don’t fund bauxite in Atiwa Forest

As part of the GLA project activities, FoE-Ghana, A Rocha Ghana and Tropenbos Ghana held a press briefing on 17 May 2018, to expose how the China Development Bank is contradicting its own green policies and the China Banking Regulatory Authority’s ‘Green Credit Directive’ by potentially investing in the destruction of the Atiwa Forest. FoE Ghana pointed out that bauxite mining in the Atiwa Forest would have very damaging impacts for biodiversity, wildlife, climate, water resources, and people (present and future). FoE-Ghana requested that the China Development Bank should officially commit to not fund any bauxite mining within the Atiwa Forest, and further requested the Government of Ghana to stop all mining and prospecting in Ghana’s Forest Reserves.

Daryl Bosu, Deputy National Director of A Rocha Ghana, presented the importance of Atiwa Forest including for ecology, biodiversity and water provision.

You can read the statement by FoE-Ghana’s Director, Theo Anderson, below. There is also a clip from The Pulse on Joy News, and links to some other media articles.

GhanaWeb: Take Atewa forest out of areas targeted for bauxite mining – FoE Ghana

GhanaWeb Business News: Mining Atewa forest will make Ghana worse off — Group

Daily Web Online: FOE-Ghana Cautions China Development Bank not to Fund Bauxite Mining in ‘Atewa forest’

Modern Ghana: Environmental Groups Oppose Atiwa Bauxite Project

 

FRIENDS OF THE EARTH-GHANA

PRESS CONFERENCE ON CHINA DEVELOPMENT BANK (CDB) AND BAUXITE MINING IN GHANA

Dr Theo Anderson, Director, FOE-Ghana

This press conference is organized by Friends of the Earth-Ghana in collaboration with A Rocha-Ghana, a conservation organization, and Tropenbos Ghana, a forest research organization under the auspices of the Green livelihood Alliance, of which we are all partners. This press conference is part of the activities under the “Save the Atewa” campaign.

The purpose of this press conference is three fold:

  1. To highlight the ecological importance of the Atewa forest and why it should not be mined
  2. To explain our concern over the role of the China Development Bank in the proposed bauxite mining in the Atewa forest
  3. To expose how the China Development Bank is contradicting its own green policies by investing in the potential destruction of the Atewa forest

In July 2017, the Senior Minister Yaw Osafo-Maafo stated that Ghana had signed a memorandum of understanding with the China Development Bank to loan US$10 billion to Ghana’s alumina project.

About a month ago, I attended a ceremony hosted by the Norwegian Embassy and the Vice President, HE Dr Bawumia gave a key note address. He mentioned that Bauxite mining will be a major source of GOG revenue to fund “Ghana’s beyond Aid Programme”

FoE-Ghana together with our GLA partners and supported by 65 NGOs from Ghana and across the world sent a letter to the China Development Bank stating our concerns regarding the proposed Chinese-funded bauxite mining in Atewa Forest.

The letter was also copied to a number of other institutions and organisations including: Government of the People’s Republic of China (Ministries for Foreign Affairs, Environmental Protection, and Commerce), Chinese Ambassador to Ghana, China Banking Regulatory Commission, and some centres for national and international affairs in PR China.

Other steps taken by the GLA partners over the past year (just to mention a few):

  1. Making a presentation to The Okyehene Nana Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin about the possible negative impacts of the proposed mining
  2. Writing petitions to the Minister of Lands and Natural resources
  3. Organising meetings between Atewa communities and the Minister of Environment, Science and Innovation
  4. Having consultations with Atewa forest fringe Communities
  5. Engaging International donor community whose funds have been used for social programmes in the Atewa Forest landscape.
  6. Asking for an official meeting with the Ambassador of the PR China

The China Development Bank and the Green Agenda

In our letter to the China Development Bank in December 2017, FoE-Ghana highlighted the apparent contradiction between the Chinese Development Bank’s green agenda and her commitment to fund the bauxite mining in the Atewa forest. Some of the CDB’s green agenda items include:

  • The Chinese Development Bank has signed up to various initiatives, including the UN Global Compact and the UNEP Finance Initiative, which both require a precautionary approach to development by ensuring projects do not cause negative impacts for the environment and people, especially affected communities
  • Then in its core principles, the Bank itself states that it places great emphasis on environmental protection
  • It also guides the enterprises it works with to manage overseas projects “according to international ecological principles and regulations” (e.g. UN Convention of Biological Diversity, UNCBD)
  • In its reports, the Bank has also stated it is dedicated to ‘green development’ and to promoting ecological civilisation including environmental protection
  • The China Development Bank, like all other banks in China, is also regulated by the China Banking Regulatory Commission and its mandatory ‘Green credit Initiative’. This obligates all China’s banks to:
    1. ensure the projects they finance abide by the applicable laws and regulations on environmental protection, land, health and safety of the country or jurisdiction where the project is located;
    2. be consistent with international best practices and standards;
    3. to undergo environmental and social risk assessments at all stages;
    4. to suspend or terminate credit for a project where major risks or hazards are identified”.
    5. And obliges banks’ Boards of Directors to promote environmental protection and sustainable development in the projects it chooses to fund.
  • This Green Credit Directive has been commended as one of the most advanced and progressive banking regulations in the world.

Demands

We now urge the China Development Bank (CDB), to first consider funding a Strategic Environmental Assessment of the whole area that is proposed for the Bauxite mining especially in the Atewa forest landscape. Such a study will present in an objective way the consequences for local communities living at the fringes and the opportunities such a venture will offer for Ghana as a whole. An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) alone is not enough.

We want to remind the Chinese Development Bank that funding the destruction of the Atewa Forest violates the Bank’s own environmental principles and has a consequence for the bank’s reputation and public image and we call on the Chinese Banking Regulatory Authority to apply all the necessary sanctions on the CDB should they go ahead to fund the bauxite mining in the Atewa forest.

In summary FoE Ghana maintains that China Development Bank’s proposed funding towards Bauxite Mining in the Atewa Forest would have very damaging impacts for biodiversity, wildlife, climate, water resources, and people (present and future).  Funding bauxite mining in the Atewa Forest is completely inconsistent with:

  • the Bank’s stated Green Growth core values
  • the Bank’s claims of support for environmental protection, resource conservation and social responsibilities
  • the Bank’s own guidance that projects benefiting from its loans should be managed according to international ecological protection principles and regulations
  • the obligations of the China Banking Regulatory Commission’s Green Credit Directive
  • and the principles of the UN Global Compact and the UNEP Finance Initiative.

We requested that, to properly fulfil these many commitments of the China Development Bank, the bank should:

  • officially commit to not fund any bauxite mining within the Atewa Forest.
  • and that it should urge the Governments of Ghana and the People’s Republic of China to completely remove Atewa Forest from the bauxite mining agreement.

FoE Ghana will like to remind Ghana Government that, over the years, successive Governments in Ghana have received tens of millions of dollars in aid for the purpose of sustainably managing and conserving our forests resources. To destroy our forests through mining will be an affront to those whose taxes are given to us in development aid for the purpose of sustainably managing our forests. We therefore urge the GOG as a matter of urgency to stop all mining and prospecting activities in Ghana’s forest reserves.

We further urge the Government of Ghana and the China Development Bank to explore alternative ways in which the Atewa forest will generate additional financial resources for the state and also to support development of local communities while preserving the ecological integrity for the Atewa forest. Such initiatives could include the protection of the Atewa forest as a National Park to be developed for ecotourism, scientific study and educational opportunities, together with various sustainable economic livelihoods for local communities.

We finally want to remind the Ghana Government that any country whose economy is dependent on the extraction of exhaustible natural resources is not sustainable in the long run.

Notes for the press:

Strategic environmental Analysis (SEA): is a systematic process, aiming to ensure that environmental and possibly other sustainability aspects are considered effectively in policy, plan and programme making. Mostly an SEA is conducted before a corresponding Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is undertaken. This means that information on the environmental impact of a plan can cascade down through the tiers of decision making and can be used in an EIA at a later stage. Applying SEA to development co-operation provides the environmental evidence to support more informed decisions making, and to identify new opportunities by encouraging a systematic and through examination of development options.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA): UNEP defines an EIA as a tool used to identify the environment, social and economic impacts of a project prior to decision making. It aims to predict environmental impacts at an early stage in project planning and design, makes proposals to reduce adverse impacts, shapes projects to suit the local environment and presents predictions and options to decision makers.

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