Businesses rely on natural resources to operate, which can create impacts and risks as well as opportunities and benefits. A recent training workshop in Ghana explored how civil society organisations (CSOs) can engage companies to ensure the sustainable use of these natural assets by balancing economic, environmental and social values.
During the workshop held 25-26 October in Ho in the Volta region of Ghana, 30 participants came together to learn and share experiences. The group included representatives from 22 national and regional CSOs, the Ghanaian Environmental Protection Agency and Private Enterprise Federation as well as the Blue Skies fruit company.
They shared their understanding of why business engagement is important to achieve conservation objectives, and how different tools and approaches can be applied depending on the change in business practices desired.
“We need business if we want to realise our ambitions in the landscapes and business needs us to achieve theirs. We are all in the same boat together,” says Godwin Evenyo Dzekoto from the CSO, A Rocha Ghana.
Working in groups, participants shared different perspectives from their own organisations and developed business cases for action. A panel, similar to the UK television series "Dragon’s Den”, then judged participants, who promoted their best examples. The winner of the panel was Dorcas Gyimah Owusu from IUCN Ghana, who reflected: “I have been enlightened on how to engage business. The momentum is high, so we now need to work on implementing our plan.”
Three collective engagement strategies were defined, one at a national level targeting extractives, and two at a landscape level targeting a fruit producer in the Mole landscape and a forestry products company in the Weto landscape.
“This programme has brought a new dimension to CSO engagement in Ghana,” says Charles Agboklu with the Integrated Rural Development Initiative (IRDI).
Participants from the Mole landscape noted this was the first time that CSOs had collaborated around a single issue. They said that they looked forward to formalising a CSO association, so they could continue to work together.
The learning trajectory used during the workshop is designed and facilitated by the IUCN Global Business and Biodiversity Programme and the IUCN Netherlands National Committee, which will provide advice and support to the CSOs on the implementation of these strategies.
The workshop is part of the Shared Resources, Joint Solutions (SRJS) programme. It aims to help CSOs increase their influence in multi-stakeholder partnerships with governments and business, and strengthen their leverage in successfully advocating for inclusive, green development. The ultimate goal of this programme is to protect global public goods, while enhancing ecosystem services, water supply, climate resilience and food security.
The SRJS programme is focused on nine target landscapes across 16 countries, including Africa (Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Madagascar, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia), South East Asia (Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar and the Philippines), and South America (Bolivia, Guiana, Paraguay and Suriname). Over the next year, the Business and Biodiversity Programme will support training, capacity building and strategic development opportunities in the African landscapes.
For more information, visit the SRJS webpage.