UNCCD, G20 Global Land Initiative Partners UMaT to Host Landmark Roundtable on Gender Issues in Post-Mining Land Restoration in Ghana.

The University of Mines and Technology (UMaT) in collaboration with the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), G20 Global Land Initiative, and Colandef Land and Property Rights, Ghana organized a 3-Day Roundtable from 16th May to 18th May, 2024 on the theme, “Gender Issues in Post-Mining Land Restoration”. The event which took place at the Best Western Plus Hotel in Takoradi was under the patronage of the Vice Chancellor, Professor Richard Kwasi Amankwah.

The RoundTable brought together 35 experts from the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Colombia, India, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Ghana with a primary focus on fostering an inclusive approach to post-mining land restoration, emphasizing gender equality and the empowerment of women.

Welcoming participants at the opening ceremony, the Vice Chancellor, Professor Richard Amankwah expressed optimism that the collaborative efforts between the University, UNCCD and other stakeholders would yield sustainable solutions for the restoration of lands especially in the Western region where most large scale and artisanal small scale mining activities have degraded vast lands.

Giving a brief about the G20 Global Land Initiatives, Ms. Apoorva Bose, the Coordinator for the G20 Global Land Initiatives in India presented an overview of the initiative on reducing land degradation and enhancing conservation of terrestrial habitats. She outlined the initiative's three key objectives namely; Conservation of Land, Sustainable Land Management, and Land Restoration.

As part of the presentation, Professor Iyenemi Ibimina Kakulu, a Senior Expert on Gender and Land Issues in Land Restoration-UNCCD G20 GLI, emphasized the UNCCD G20 Initiative’s ambition to achieve a 50% reduction in degraded lands globally by the year 2040. Prof Kakulu detailed Ghana’s Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) targets, which include reforestation, improving soil productivity, and halting illegal mining activities by the year 2030. Prof Kakulu underscored the need for women's involvement and empowerment in the achievements of Ghana’s LDN target stating that women's inclusion in land use policies and support from women will go a long way to promote land restoration efforts in the country. Professor Kakulu elaborated on the connection between successful land restoration and gender issues such as women’s land rights, access to land, and empowerment

Also, Mr Dennis Pulimittathu a Senior Associate at the UNCCD  a presentation titled “It is a Land of Opportunities” highlighted the ecological consequences of biodiversity loss and the role of restoration projects like reforestation and wildlife conservation. He stressed that gender-responsive sustainable land use practices are crucial for long-term environmental sustainability and biodiversity conservation.

Discussions covered comprehensive restoration efforts needed to address soil erosion, water pollution, and deforestation caused by mining. Techniques and procedures for restoring healthy ecosystems and preventing environmental degradation were also explored.

The event underscored the importance of environmental restoration in mitigating the harmful effects of artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM), which disproportionately impacts women in mining communities. It also created a platform for exchanging insights and addressing challenges related to recognizing and integrating gender issues in post-mining land restoration.

Major activities that marked the RoundTable were paper presentations by teams of researchers from the University on the topics; Gender Issues in Post-Mining Land, Restoration; and Artisanal Mining, and Gender Economic Empowerment in Ghana, and a panel discussion by Women in Mining representatives from various countries on the livelihood challenges facing women and the strategies to overcome them. Participants had the opportunity to learn about gender perspectives and the roles of women in land restoration, biodiversity conservation, and environmental education.

The Western Regional Minister Honorable Dr Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah in a goodwill address at the Roundtable stressed the need for stakeholder dialogues to address the environmental impacts of mining and called for policies that integrate gender issues throughout the mining lifecycle.

Also representing the Queen Mothers' Platform, Ghana, the President, Nana Dokua Amponsah III, acknowledged the economic benefits of mining when managed properly. She nonetheless stressed the significant negative impacts on surface soil and other resources critical to community livelihoods. She highlighted the severe social, environmental, and livelihood disruptions caused by mining and indicated that women and children bear the brunt of these effects despite having little share in its economic benefits. She further emphasized the special leadership position of Queen Mothers in the mobilization efforts towards resolving issues in post-mining land restoration.

Participants at the Roundtable also received a goodwill message from the Chief Executive Officer of Nguvu Mining Limited, Ms Angela List who underscored the resilience of women in mining impacted communities. She called for systemic changes and investments in gender initiatives to ensure ecological resilience and sustainable development during and after mining operations.

Lastly, the Vice President of the Licensed Surveyors’ Association and Conference Director for the FIG 2024 Working Week in Ghana, in a speech delivered on his behalf by the Professor Cynthia Boye, Dean of International Programmes at UMaT pointed out the necessity of recognising and addressing the unique challenges faced by different genders in the restoration process. He said that the roundtable must foster collaboration and hands-on brainstorming to cultivate innovative solutions that prioritise gender equity and empower all stakeholders involved.

The G20 GLI roundtable successfully highlighted the critical role of women in sustainable land management and the critical importance of land restoration for ecological balance and socio-economic well-being, calling for innovative, gender-equitable solutions. It also stressed the importance of raising awareness and promoting education to achieve positive outcomes in abandoned mine sites.

The roundtable concluded with a strong commitment to developing gender-responsive policies and practices for post-mining land restoration. The collaborative effort aimed at creating sustainable and inclusive solutions, by projecting the critical role of women in land restoration and environmental stewardship. Participants left with a shared vision of a future where mining and restoration efforts are harmonized to benefit both people and the environment.

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