Business-as-unusual: working with Ghana's private sector on climate change adaptation

Date
03 June 2020

Written by
Paolo Cozzi, Kouassigan Tovivo

Creating more climate-resilient societies will also require action from businesses. We supported the government of Ghana in developing an innovative strategy for leveraging the private sector to ensure the success of its national adaptation planning.

A bustling street in Ghana's capital, Accra ©Erin Johnson, CC BY-NC 2.0

Developing and implementing effective responses to climate change will require action by a wide range of actors across society and the economy, including government, civil society, academia, and the business community. Recognising this, on May 12, 2020, as part of its work to develop a plan to adapt to climate change, the Environmental Protection Agency of Ghana published the “Private Sector Engagement Strategy for the National Adaptation Plan”. Climate Analytics supported Ghana in these efforts as part of the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) Global Network’s in-country support program, coordinated by International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), with funding by United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

In November 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of Ghana released the country’s NAP Framework which outlines the country’s vision and process for developing its NAP.  The document notes that “a successful NAP process will require leveraging the private sector in climate adaptation.” It states that the private sector can contribute to adaptation both by minimising the climate impacts to business delivery and by creating markets in the technologies and services that will be needed to adapt to climate change.

However, the “private sector” is far from monolithic and includes everything from large mining companies to small family farmers.  It includes the enterprises that provide goods and services as well as the financiers that allow those enterprises to invest. This diversity of the private sector means that an effective strategy will leverage the expertise, creativity, innovation and resources of the country’s wide range of industries and firms and reflect their interests, and do so in a way that is manageable for both the public and private sector actors involved.

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In Ghana a variety of sectors are organised in business associations such as the Ghana Grains Council, the Chamber of Mines, or the Ghana Association of Bankers. There are also umbrella organisations with broader membership, such as the Chamber of Commerce. Other entities, such as the Association of Small Scale Industries, speak for businesses across sectors. Many of these associations, in turn, are members of the Private Enterprise Federation, which supports the development needs of, and advocates for, Ghana’s private sector as a whole.

Many of these bodies are already active in addressing climate change, as Climate Analytics and the EPA learned in a series of consultations and a stakeholder workshop. The Private Enterprise Federation makes climate change a key priority and has supported efforts related to engaging with the private sector in the development of Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs). The Ghana Association of Bankers has partnered with the government in the development of a set of sustainable banking principles and sector guidance notes to help the sector take environmental and social considerations into account in their lending decisions. The Farmers Organizations Network works with its members, small-scale farmers, fisherfolks, and livestock producers, to educate them on climate change and support resilience efforts such as introducing members to drought-resistant seed varieties.

These business associations, engaged appropriately, can support both the further development of the NAP and its successful implementation in several ways. They can share key information, through their regular engagement with their membership and support efforts to build members’ understanding and capacity to address climate change in their own operations or develop new services to enhance resilience. They can share their expertise of their respective sectors and inform NAP development, identifying where climate change threatens business and the economy and recommending approaches to address these challenges. And private enterprises and financiers, individually or collectively, can mobilise capital to invest in resilience, in their own operations and beyond.

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Ghana’s Private Sector Engagement strategy lays out several ways in which the country will aim to involve the business community in these efforts. For one, the NAP Framework calls for the EPA and the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation (MESTI), to establish cross-sectoral policy groups to develop the NAP, which are to include private sector representatives. Supporting and complementing these efforts, the government of Ghana will work through existing platforms for public-private engagement, such as the aforementioned Sustainable Finance Committee, or the Ministry of Agriculture’s Agriculture Working Group. The government will work actively to engage through existing forums, such as private sector conferences and trade fairs. Where necessary, such as for the purposes of capacity-building, the government will organise purpose-driven workshops.

Given that Ghana is in the midst of an ongoing process for developing its adaptation plan, the strategy needs to be dynamic and flexible, rather than specific and prescriptive. As such, it lays out a series of principles for the government to apply in engaging the private sector in adaptation planning and implementation:


  • Engage at the appropriate level for the activity, whether sector-specific, or economy-wide input or cooperation is needed;

  • Engage the industry first rather than a specific company to leverage associations’ reach and ensure efficient engagement efforts;

  • Utilise existing structures to enhance result and avoid duplication of efforts and dispersion of resources;

  • Lead by example through the effective engagement of Ghana’s state-owned enterprises allowing the government to demonstrate good practices across a variety of businesses and to showcase commitment to adaptation and climate resilience;

  • Ensure dynamism to account for the evolving landscape of the private sector and the needs of the NAP process itself over time through regular review and update.

The government of Ghana is demonstrating leadership in engaging the private sector in the development and implementation of its NAP. Ghana’s early engagement with private sector stakeholders will hopefully allow for a smooth development of a NAP that reflects the realities of Ghana’s economy. Likewise, by making a partner of the business community, Ghana will ensure that the NAP appropriately considers their interests and will leverage the sector’s dynamism to develop innovative responses to the threat of climate change.