Mrs Hannah Owusu-Koranteng, the former Chairperson of Civil Society Organisations into natural resources, has called on government to continue the review of the Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) sector to safeguard accountability.
She said the review was necessary to ensure the effective utilisation of the revenue that accrued from the resources and the preservation and conservation of the environment for future generations.
Mrs Owusu-Koranteng made the call at a News conference as part of the 10th annual general meeting held in Accra.
The meeting was organised by KASA Initiative, a coalition of NGOs in the Fisheries, Mining, Forestry, Land, Oil and Gas, Water and Sanitation, as well as Climate Change and Environment.
It was on the theme: “Sustainable Natural Resource Exploitation in Ghana: the Role of CSOs”.
She said because of the rich natural resources, the economic model continues to increase the country’s dependence on the extractive sector.
“This economic model places premium on resource extraction is associated with increased environmental cost which if not addressed could create a situation where cost outweighs the benefits,” the Chairperson said.
Mrs Owusu-Koranteng said government’s report in 2018 indicated that gold, cocoa, petroleum, agriculture and individual remittances were the major sources of foreign exchange.
Gold accounted for $8.35 billion, Crude Petroleum earnings was $2.97 billion, and agriculture $2.633 billion respectively using the 1992 revision of the Harmonised System (HS) classification.
She explained that the agricultural sector expanded by 4.8 per cent in 2018, however, the Fishing sub-sector continued to decline, recording a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of -6.8 per cent.
The value of timber exports in 2018 was €187.87 million, adding that “the state should not only be interested in the revenue generated from the sector but rather assess the costs associated to with them exploitation of these resources from its pristine, physical environment and to society”.
She said government in its quest for development made commitments, which affected the stability of the country’s natural resources and therefore CSO’s had the responsibility of ensuring that government’s plans were aligned to sustainable development which it ascribed to.
She said to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), there should be transparent and accountable governance, where government encouraged citizens’, development partners and investors in the natural resource sector.
Mrs Owusu-Koranteng called for pragmatic steps to be taken to ensure sustainable exploitation of Ghana’s natural resources, which cuts across water quality, fish stocks, food production, and environmental sanitation.
She said there was the need for government to make clear what its priority agenda was for forests, reactivate the environment and Natural Resources Council, ensure that natural resources regulatory institutions were accountable and transparent and ensure effective revenue management.
She appealed to government to review Ghana’s forest component to address broader forest governance issues and encourage the use of indigenous species for forest restoration and not exotic ones.