Mining and the Green Energy Transition: Review of International Development Challenges and Opportunities

In order to meet the 2015 Paris Agreement goal of keeping global warming below two degrees Celsius, the world’s energy systems need shift their reliance from fossil fuels to alternate energy sources. The technological solutions from photovoltaic cells to lithium-ion batteries, known colloquially as green energy, may be less fuel intensive, but they are more material intensive than non-renewable technologies. The growing global demand for green energy and the critical raw materials that fuel its production, including minerals, will significantly impact the environment, social and economic structures, and livelihoods of people around the world. Recent global studies (Drexhage et al., 2017; Hund et al., 2020; IEA, 2021) predict demand increases of up to ten times current production levels for minerals like cobalt, graphite, and lithium. No matter the mix of alternate energy sources the world turns to, the mining sector will be a key player in the years ahead.

The projected increase in mineral demand from green energy is already influencing commodity markets, supply chains, and geopolitics. Unlike raw materials needed for fossil-fuel source energy, minerals needed for green energy technologies are diverse and dispersed widely: over two dozen minerals are mined across more than 100 countries. The potential for an international mining boom is already sparking concern among development experts. While it could foster growth and employment benefitting millions, more mining also carries significant environmental, governance, national security, human rights, and social risks. Failure to address these risks could lead to increased fragility, poverty, and conflict in many developing countries. That, in turn, could create bottlenecks that affect global mineral supply, create market uncertainty, slow the global clean energy transition (IEA, 2021, p. 192) and ultimately jeopardize important the national security goals of the United States (US) and its allies.

This report reviews the challenges and opportunities for donors such as USAID to engage in the mining sector in developing countries as it relates to the green energy transition. Although 29 minerals were identified as playing a current or potential role in green energy technologies, this study reviewed 16 mined in USAID-presence countries that are projected to be particularly important, including 9 that are on the 2018 US Critical Minerals list.

View the full report here. See links below for individual fact sheets on each of the 16 green energy minerals mined in USAID-presence countries.

 

Governance, Land Use Change, and Mitigating Viral Zoonotic Emergence at the Human-Environment Interface

A Review and Recommendations for Applied Research

The far-reaching impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic highlight the urgent need to understand and mitigate future zoonotic disease emergence. Zoonoses are diseases caused by pathogens that spread from animals to humans; ‘spillover’ is the process of cross-species pathogen transmission; and zoonotic spillover describes cross-species pathogen emergence from animal to human hosts. Over the past century, three out of every four emerging or reemerging infectious diseases in humans have been zoonotic in origin, and probably more. Zoonotic pathogens pose an ongoing and significant health and economic burden—as underscored by the COVID-19 pandemic. As of writing the SARS-CoV-2 virus has killed more than 3 million people and shut down the global economy, pushing millions of people into extreme poverty. SARS-CoV-2 is only one of several recent zoonotic viruses, which have resulted in large human outbreaks and caused significant impact on human livelihoods across the globe. As evidenced by the emergence and reemergence of SARS, MERS, Ebola, Chikungunya, and Zika viruses within the past half-century, pandemics are not once-in-a-century events, and the next pandemic-causing pathogen will likely originate in animal species.

Forest disturbance and land conversion can significantly increase risk for zoonoses in the months and years following change, but these risks may be possible to mitigate through integrated One Health programs and policies. Preventing emerging zoonoses in changing landscapes can provide simultaneous benefits to biodiversity conservation and public health. By addressing gaps in knowledge of the ecological and sociological drivers of zoonoses, we can inform effective interventions to prevent zoonoses and target disease surveillance. We build on previous research and draw on expertise from global health, land and resource governance, conservation, disease ecology, virology, forest economics, and other disciplines to synthesize gaps in understanding of viral zoonotic risk and quantify and evaluate the impacts of interventions aimed to mitigate viral zoonotic emergence at the human-environment interface.

Land use change is a key driver of zoonotic emergence. Conversion of natural habitat leads to biodiversity loss, changes in the distribution of zoonotic host species, and increased human-wildlife contact, all of which have cascading health consequences for humans and communities. Research has shown that intermediate levels of land conversion are likely to pose the highest risk to humans, but this risk is conditional on pathogen traits and the animal host communities that remain in these converted landscapes. Land use change is a dominant feature of landscapes globally and negative consequences of these changes will disproportionately affect already marginalized communities. There is an urgent need to: 1) identify landscapes, present and future, at greater risk of zoonotic disease emergence and 2) understand the mechanisms that drive this risk in changing landscapes in order to design more effective interventions.

This report derives from a March-May 2021 workshop series under the USAID Integrated Natural Resource Management (INRM) program, with participation by USAID and outside experts from across disciplines. Based on findings from the workshop, this report reviews the latest science across disciplines and proposes specific activities and applied research questions. The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of zoonoses prevention and mitigation. Global health and medical experts, veterinarians, and environmentalists advocate for a ‘One Health approach’ to zoonoses—which integrates human, animal, and environmental health science to address mechanisms underlying pathogen transmission at the animal-environment-human interface. This report was prepared in the spirit of One Health.

Download the full report here.

Viability of a Cost Recovery Model for Farm-Level Tenure Documentation and Tree Tenure Registration: Experiences from the Asankrangwa Stool

Executive Summary 

The United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) Integrated Land and Resource Governance (ILRG) program is carrying out a two-year Supporting Deforestation-Free Cocoa in Ghana activity, building on the work of USAID’s previous Tenure and Global Climate Change (TGCC) program. TGCC worked in the community of Nyame Nnae in Asankrangwa Stool in Wassa Amenfi District; local farmers were provided with land documentation approved by the Stool Chief, free of charge. Under the ILRG activity, subcontractor Meridia offered farmers in four communities in Asankrangwa a FarmSeal certificate of ownership, approved and recorded by the Stool Chief, with some cost subsidization by USAID. The cost subsidies were provided to try to create a level playing field so that all farmers, regardless of social category and relative wealth, could afford the cost of the documentation. The subsidy covered 20 to 70 percent of the cost of farm documentation.

This report is a summary of the work that Meridia carried out under the USAID ILRG project in four communities in the Asankrangwa Stool and reflects primarily the points of view of the field team delegated with the tasks of carrying out a sub-contract with Tetra Tech, the project implementing partner. The views expressed in this report are of the Meridia team itself and do not reflect policy positions by either USAID or the ILRG Ghana activity. An impact evaluation planned by the USAID Communication Evidence and Learning (CEL) project will be carried out to test, validate, or refute the findings and perspectives of the Meridia team https://www.land-links.org/project/communications-evidence-and-learning-cel/. Hopefully, the perspectives from field implementation experience will guide a more in-depth impact evaluation.

The Meridia FarmSeal service consists of a process of conducting community outreach and dialogue to introduce the service to farmers, mapping farm parcels and other geographic features, setting a sliding fee scale based on farm parcel size, and then registering the rights with the customary authorities. The service requires farmers to pay some, if not the majority, of the costs of the final FarmSeal document. By the end of Meridia’s initial efforts, 842 parcels had been mapped (591 male, 201 female, 47 no data because parcels were mapped but farmers never made themselves available for household interviews), with 766 farmers consenting to the mapping services (1.1 farms per farmer). Despite Meridia’s intensive community outreach and dialogue to encourage farmers to buy into the service, only 70 FarmSeal documents were sold, a far lower rate than anticipated. From Meridia’s perspective (recognizing that the USAID Communications, Evidence and Learning [CEL] project will conduct an evaluation of the land documentation process) (Persha et al, 2020) , low sales were due to the following major factors:

  • Farmers believed that the FarmSeal documents should be free because certificates were previously issued in Nyame Nnae at no cost under the TGCC pilot. While this was an experimental and pilot initiative, farmers nevertheless felt that the ILRG project possessed the means to distribute free FarmSeal certificates and thus that all farmers in the area should be treated equally.
  • Farmers held limited funds to pay for FarmSeal services due to the poor financial viability of cocoa farming.
  • One of the influential village chiefs, an odikro, expressed his view that the purchase of FarmSeal documentation would not preclude the need to negotiate new tenure arrangements with landowners when current tenancy arrangements come to an end, generally at the point when cocoa fields must be replanted after old age or disease. Even though the ILRG and Meridia team believed at the outset of land documentation that the customary tenure agreements would hold firm, this single disagreement led to a major impasse (see Section 2.2.5 below for more detail). Since a large number of trees in the pilot villages are indeed in need of replacement, the concern raided by the odikro seemed well-founded to other chiefs.

In order to reach the project’s target of at least 520 documents delivered,1 a joint decision between USAID and the ILRG Ghana task team was made to change the delivery approach and deliver all FarmSeal documents for free or for a token amount of 20 cedis (about USD $3.50) per parcel.

This report summarizes the lessons learned thus far through the experience gained in the four pilot villages. The major lessons are summarized here in order to inform similar land documentation approaches in Ghana and elsewhere.

  • The land documentation pilot led to a deeper understanding of the applicability of the pricing model in Ghana’s cocoa-growing areas. Meridia prepared a pricing spectrum model from fully commercial sales to full subsidization, with an intermediate cost recovery model, depending on underlying situational factors. Although ILRG initially took the cost recovery approach, in the end the project had to return to a full subsidization model.
  • The willingness to pay for a farm documentation service is determined by a wide range of factors. From the perspective of Meridia, in hindsight, it now seems that the cost recovery model may have been doomed from the outset because the previous USAID TGCC project in the Asankangrawa Stool had provided free certificates in a nearby community. This key conclusion should be more fully addressed by the endline evaluation that will be carried out by the USAID CEL project. But other factors are also at play: support from traditional leaders for a fee-for-service is essential, but in Asankrangwa, the acting stool chief may not have exercised as much influence as a fully sitting chief. Ultimately, the farmers themselves need to perceive the benefits of land documentation. Strong demand for the service did not emerge for many reasons, but perhaps principally because landowners remain convinced of their rights and authority over land, and the abunu tenant farmers remain cognizant of their subordinate status.
  • The central premise of the cost recovery initiative and the experiment in the four pilot villages was to reduce dependency on donor subsidization of land documentation. While the techniques of land documentation (mapping, establishing databases, and issuing certificates) are now refined, the heart of the issue – subsidization – is not resolved. In other parts of Ghana, it appears that farmers want to purchase land documentation services, possess a greater ability to pay, and are thus they are willing to pay for a greater share of a FarmSeal document. Since this is not the case in the four ILRG villages of the Asankrangwa Stool, the verdict is still out. In situations like those in the Asankrangwa Stool, land documentation will mostly likely continue to require subsidization by government, the private sector, or donors.
  • Under TGCC, Meridia carried out a pilot land documentation initiative focused on documenting customary rights as found at the time in the community through a process of dialogue and discussion with community members and traditional authorities. Contrary to other similar land documentation projects in Ghana, Meridia did not try to fit the documentation process into the statutory framework or generic customary title documents circulating around the country. The systemic complexities of fee-for-service land documentation described in this report still remain at the stool level and especially around the maintenance of land records, whether through a subsidized service delivery model or not. Maintenance of land records at the stool level through the customary land secretariats is difficult across all the secretariats in Ghana, and government commitment to adequate financing and support of these secretariats is generally lacking.

Through the ILRG program in Ghana, Meridia will still be able to test the Ghana°Ground approach and technology, a method to collect and store land records on tablets that will enable the customary land secretariats to gain immediate insight into all documented landholdings and use this information to help prevent and mediate conflicts.

 




 

Supporting Deforestation-free Cocoa in Ghana Activity: Land Use Planning Diagnostic Report

Executive Summary

The Integrated Land and Resource Governance (ILRG) task order under the Strengthening Tenure and Resource Rights II (STARR II) Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract provides support to the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Land and Urban Office in the Bureau for Economic Growth, Education, and Environment (E3/LU). ILRG develops and implements targeted interventions in select USAID presence and non-presence countries, providing technical assistance to improve land and resource governance, strengthen property rights, and build resilient livelihoods as the foundation for stability, resilience, and strong economic growth.

Context

Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire together produce two-thirds of the world’s cocoa. Cocoa plays a critically important role in local and national economies, providing jobs, improved livelihoods and social welfare, expanded tax base, family and corporate income, and foreign exchange earnings growth. However, the long-term viability of cocoa farming is at risk in many parts of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire due to a number of factors, including climate change.1 For many years, smallholder cocoa has been the leading agricultural commodity driving deforestation in both countries. This deforestation increases greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and has a negative impact on biodiversity, soil fertility, and water quality and quantity; affects local rainfall; and threatens farmer livelihoods. In response, the governments of both countries and commodity buyers have made specific commitments to reduce and eliminate deforestation from their supply chains through the creation of initiatives such as the Cocoa and Forests Initiative and the Ghana Cocoa Forest REDD+ Programme (GCFRP) that will sell carbon credits to the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility.

Declining productivity of cocoa farms represents an additional challenge facing the West African cocoa sector. In Ghana, up to 40 percent of cocoa farms have low productivity and the Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod) estimates that 700,000 hectares (ha) of cocoa farms need to be replanted. Several challenges to large-scale farm rehabilitation exist. Farmers and communities lack the funding, labor resources, and technical know-how to replant old trees using best practices to rehabilitate old cocoa farms to be higher yielding and more resilient. Many farmers also have insecure land tenure arrangements that prevent or discourage them from replanting old farms and need help to improve tenure security.

The Supporting Deforestation-Free Cocoa in Ghana activity is a partnership between USAID and private sector actors the Hershey Company (Hershey) and ECOM Agroindustrial Corp. (ECOM) to pilot and scale up a financially viable farm rehabilitation and land tenure strengthening model for the Ghanaian cocoa sector. In combination with land use planning, the model will result in reduced deforestation and GHG emissions and increased carbon sequestration in the cocoa landscape, increased cocoa farm productivity and resilience, diversified farmer incomes, and improved livelihoods. Working with the private sector to support viable business models will draw on the resources and expertise of private partners needed to help Ghana on its journey to self-reliance. The theory of change guiding this initiative is summarized in Figure 1-1.

Land Use Planning Diagnostic

In late May and early June 2019, a 10-person multidisciplinary team of Ghanaian and international specialists carried out a series of case studies in the four villages of Yirase, Domeabra, Suresu Nkwanta,  and Nyame Nnae in the Western Region of the Wassa Amenfi West District and the Asankrangwa Stool. The objectives of the study (see Box 1-1) for each community were to:

  1. Describe the ecological and contextual situation;
  2. Assess the tenurial situation;
  3. Identify the resource governance institutions; and
  4. Assess the opportunities for land use planning in the Wassa Amenfi West District.
 Methodology

The land use planning diagnostic (LUPD) primarily used rapid rural appraisal (RRA) and participatory rural appraisal (PRA) information gathering tools, complemented by a literature review. Information was successfully gathered in the four villages thanks to excellent cooperation with the local communities during an intensive information gathering process from May 24 – June 7, 2019. The data was analyzed and written up in a first draft during a writer’s workshop in Takoradi from June 10 – 14. The key findings are summarized in the sections below. A summary of key information for each of the four villages is presented in Annex A. Annex B presents the schedule for the study. Annex C includes key research questions and associated RRA research tools. The reference list is presented in Annex D.

During the field research, the USAID Communications, Evidence, and Learning (CEL) project carried out a complementary quantitative baseline study in the same four villages. The thematic research topics were defined by the two projects with the intent to provide an overall assessment of the present-day situation upon completion of the respective project analyses. A USAID and State Department team visited the ILRG field work from June 3 – 7, 2019 and provided valuable insights during rich discussions with the land use planning diagnostic team.

Findings and Recommendations

The LUPD takes a historical perspective to determine the broad structural factors that have shaped the landscape of the Wassa Amenfi West District from centuries past to the present. Section 2 presents the LUPD’s findings and notes the many interconnected factors, in both ecosystems and social systems, that have profoundly transformed the forested landscape over the centuries. With stunning rapidity, the Wassa Amenfi West forested landscape was shaped by the Wassa peoples largely through their control of the migrant labor force through complex land and labor arrangements from the 1980s to the present, which were complemented by state and private sector investment in a network of roads which facilitated settlement and export of timber and cocoa. From a time when the forested landscape seemed limitless, today the relics of the once-expansive primary forests are now largely situated in a narrow band of primary forest reserves surrounding the Wassa Amenfi West District and the district capital of Asankrangwa. Within these confines, the expansion of the cocoa frontier has largely been arrested, though pressures on the forest reserves are high. The forested landscape is now highly fragmented – best characterized as a mosaic of mixed tree cover of cocoa trees, some overstory of taller trees, and patches of primary and secondary bush-fallow. Thanks primarily to the labors of migrant settlers organized and abetted by the Wassa power elite, the pioneer frontier expansion phase is over.

In Section 3, the LUPD team argues that the conservation and restoration of the forested landscape capable of absorbing significant carbon requires a profound societal commitment by the people of the Wassa Amenfi West District themselves to a multifaceted vision for the future of their own territory. External actors, including donor organizations/activities like USAID and the ILRG Supporting Deforestation-Free Cocoa in Ghana activity, should continue to construct a partnership with local communities to support this journey of environmental rehabilitation and economic and social development. The question may be raised by USAID and others – since there is little primary forest left to conserve, and carbon stocks are low, why invest United States government resources in this landscape? The answer is simple – the environmental and social context in Wassa Amenfi West District is symptomatic of the unfolding drama of tropical deforestation across West and Central Africa. Learning how to work with local communities, the private sector, and government to conserve and restore the resource base is an important challenge for the 21st century.

The LUPD recommends short, medium, and long-term strategies to launch the creation of a new human-derived landscape capable of absorbing carbon while also contributing to the economic development of the Wassa Amenfi West District. As suggested in this diagnostic, a combination of interventions at both the local and national level could go a long way towards creating new incentive packages leading to the emergence of new societal norms and behaviors toward the land. Tweaking policy and legal practices, such as simplifying timber and shade tree registration or working with landowners and tenants to tweak tenancy arrangements, might go a long way to changing the incentive structure. Similarly, the new technical and financial packages being tested by the private sector, like those of ECOM and the farm documentation services offered by Meridia and supported by ILRG, offer new opportunities if proven acceptable to local communities. Yet these measures are insignificant in comparison to broader structural incentives needed in the long term, such as higher farm-gate prices to farmers to reward and off-set labor costs for adopting environmentally friendly farm rehabilitation practices. To bring about the profound changes required to construct a landscape capable of absorbing carbon to some level equivalent to the primary forest is not easy, but not an impossible task.

The foundations of a profound change in consciousness and behavior at all levels of society is in the making. The Wassa landed elite appear to be concerned about the future of their territory and that of future generations. Since the Wassa are the historical holders of land rights to their territory, they determine to a large extent the future of the landscape. The Wassa will be under pressure to negotiate new abunu tenancy agreements with the various migrant groups who now occupy the landscape. With appropriate incentives, the Wassa may impose conditionalities on tenants to protect fallow lands, encourage planting of more shade and timber trees, and adopt other environmentally proactive comportments. At the same time, private land markets will continue to grow, further weakening the power of the Wassa to influence norms and behavioral practices.

International partners of the Ghanaian government and the people of Wassa Amenfi West District, like the ILRG Supporting Deforestation-Free Cocoa in Ghana activity, can contribute strategically to a new environmental and social space. Confronted with extremely limited means, the challenge for USAID is to utilize the limited resources at its disposition in strategic and carefully targeted ways.