Atewa Forest Ghana

APAC 2022: mineral mining and the energy transition

The Africa Protected Areas Congress (APAC) took place this week in Kigali, Rwanda. It was the first time the protected areas congress of IUCN was organised in Africa. IUCN NL organised several sessions with local partners, among which is a workshop on the increased threats caused by mining of minerals needed for the energy transition. While people around the world are working on much-needed renewable energy, these energy sources are only responsible if they are as much as possible in every aspect of the chain.

Header photo: Atewa Forest in Ghana (c) Jan Willem den Besten

Transition to renewable energy

It is clear that we need to change our approach to energy use and transportation. The current heat waves and droughts around the world emphasise once again that we must quickly switch to renewable energy sources as well as use these resources consciously.

Wind and sun rays are inexhaustible, making them interesting energy solutions. But a mix of mineral resources are needed to develop the required technology for wind and solar energy. The growing production of these technologies is driving a rapid increase in demand for metals and minerals. One of them is bauxite, used to produce aluminium.

The incredible biodiversity of the Atewa Forest and the ecosystem services it provides are invaluable and must be secured.’

Daryl Bosu – A Rocha Ghana

Mining threatens biodiversity and human rights

The Atewa Forest in southern Ghana is a Key Biodiversity Area. Being an important habitat for over 50 mammal species, 230 bird species, 570 butterfly species and 1,000 plant species, this unique forest is on the list of the global Alliance for Zero Extinction. This means the Atewa Forest should be fully protected and is considered a ‘no-go area’ for any type of exploitation including mining. Nevertheless, the Ghanaian government wants to mine for bauxite in this globally significant forest. This despite the fact that only 15 % of the total exploitable bauxite resources are located in Atewa.

Bauxite mining in Atewa would not only threaten biodiversity and endangered species in the region, it would also endanger the water source for five million Ghanaians. ‘The incredible biodiversity of the Atewa Forest and the ecosystem services it provides are invaluable,’ said Daryl Bosu of our local partner organization A Rocha Ghana. Mining in this area therefore not only threatens biodiversity, but also undermines the economic, cultural and health value it has for local communities.

Climate justice: a healthy and just world

Also in other countries, such as Madagascar, the Philippines and Indonesia, mining is a serious threat to biodiversity. But mineral and metal extraction can also undermine human rights by endangering people’s basic needs and livelihoods, for example by polluting water and land. On top of this, communities in the area often do not economically benefit from mining. 

The energy transition should lead to a healthy and just world for nature and all people. It is essential that the entire mineral and metal value chains of the energy transition is as responsible as possible in every aspect and in every part of the world. This means reusing and recycling as much as possible, no mining in vulnerable nature and not harming the rights of local people, including their right to land and a healthy living environment.

Our sessions at APAC 2022

At the IUCN Africa Protected Area Congress, we organised four sessions with our local and international partners.

Experiences from 20 years Land Acquisition Fund
African partners of the IUCN NL Land Acquisition Fund shared lessons learned and best practices on privately protected areas. We focused in particular on how the impact these protected areas have beyond their borders.

Appreciate people and ensure sustainable habitat
A clinic organised by our local partner A Rocha Ghana on management of ecosystem services in the Atewa Forest in Ghana. They shared insights on how to secure the forest for water resources, biodiversity and resilience through advocacy.

Redirecting financial flows and public investments in natural capital
Participants discussed biodiversity loss risks in supply chains and partnerships between finance and conservation. This roundtable was organised by African CSOs Biodiversity Alliance, ECOTRUST, A Rocha Ghana and IUCN NL.

Building landscape climate resilience through green investments finance

The session aimed to share experiences from Ghana and Uganda and to explore how three landscapes are building climate resilience in rich biodiversity landscapes which are also high-end shea, cocoa and oil commodity sourcing landscapes in Ghana and Uganda under the Mobilising More for Climate Programme.

Awake to urgency of threats by mining for renewable energy
This workshop, organised by A Rocha Ghana, focused on the threats of mineral mining for renewable energy and how the African conservation community can minimise the impact on biodiversity and people. The session is seeking to set up an African Watch Network to engage the transition process.

More information?

Frederique Holle
Expert Environmental Justice
Jan Kamstra
no longer working at IUCN NL