Ghana has managed remarkable success in economic growth over the past two decades. Since 1990, real GDP in Ghana has more than quadrupled, and in 2011, the country hit a significant milestone when it joined the ranks of Lower Middle-Income Countries (LMICs). Momentum in macroeconomic growth was accompanied by reduced poverty, allowing Ghana to halve its national poverty rate (from 52.7% to 24.2% during the period 1991-2012) [1]. However, Ghana’s economic growth has not translated into sufficient productive employment opportunities, particularly for the youth who represent a large part of the population [2].

In addition, Ghana’s economic growth is largely dependent on a rich natural resource base (mining, timber, oil and gas, and agriculture) [3]. As a result, Ghana has experienced a high cost of environmental degradation, estimated at about US$6.3 billion annually, equivalent to 10.7% of the country’s 2017 GDP [1]. Over the past few decades, Ghana’s greenhouse gas emissions have also more than doubled the levels recorded in the 1990s [3]. Ghana is highly vulnerable to climate variability and change, which continues to pose a threat to future growth and development [4], affecting major economic sectors like agriculture and power due to erratic rainfall patterns and prolonged drought in some cases [3]. Despite a recent transition to an industry and services-oriented economy, 45% of the workforce in Ghana still relies on work dependent upon rainfed agriculture [4].

If current unsustainable natural resource management remains unchanged in Ghana, the country will see its wealth destroyed over the long term, with fewer opportunities to sustain growth and share prosperity. Heightened vigilance of the effects of environmental change, preservation of critical and vulnerable ecosystems, planning and investment in climate-smart preparedness and infrastructure, and the transition to a “green economy”— are all ways in which Ghana can prevent unsustainable development [1].


Ghana faces environmental challenges roughly corresponding to its rural, urban, and coastal landscapes. The complexion and complexity of Ghana’s environmental issues are changing as a function of the socioeconomic and environmental dynamics in these areas. Meanwhile, the population is set to double over the next 40 years, at which point more than 75% of Ghanaians will be living in cities. Growth and development will deplete natural capital—as the GDP per capita growth rate must exceed the population’s growth rate to have a poverty-reducing effect—complicating existing environmental, climate, and natural resource management challenges [1].

Drivers of environmental degradation in Ghana include air and water pollution, agricultural land degradation, deforestation, illegal mining, overfishing, coastal erosion, flooding, and mismanaged solid waste [1], [5].


Key policies and governance approach

Ghana has developed several policies and strategies in support of its transition to a green economy, these include, among others: Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (GSGDA II, 2014–2017); National Employment Policy (2012); National Energy Policy (2009), National Energy Strategy (2010), and Strategic National Energy Plan; Renewable Energy Act (Act 832) (2013); Energy Sector Recovery Programme (ESRP) (2019); National Climate Change Policy (NCCP, 2013); National Climate Change Master Plan (2015); National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (NCCAS); The Forestry Development Master Plan (2016-2036); The Forest Plantation Development Strategy (GFPS) (2016–2040); The REDD + Strategy (2016–2035); Ghana’s National Determined Contributions (NDCs); and the National Water Policy (NWP) (2007) [3]. Ghana was also among the first countries to join the African Circular Economy Alliance in 2019, confirming the country’s ambition to steer the Circular Economy Transition on the continent [6].

To ensure a just and socially inclusive transition to a greener economy, Ghana is implementing a National Green Jobs Strategy (2021-2025) [6]. The National Green Jobs Strategy was developed with the intention to create platforms, develop capacities, and institute measures that would organise and harmonise on-going green interventions through effective coordination. The strategy adopts a multi-sectoral approach to ensure effective delivery of goods and services by specialised state and non-state actors through the implementation of measures that support the growth and expansion of the green economy in Ghana. This is expected to be done by strengthening institutional capacities, development of green skills and occupations, promotion of green enterprises and mobilisation of funding to support economic activities in the green sectors in order to harness the job creation potentials [7].



Despite Ghana’s effort to transition to a green economy, that is made evident by the implementation of a number of related policies and strategies, the country is yet to make significant achievement in this regard. However, Ghana has huge potentials with respect to its ability to green the economy. The main strengths of Ghana include the geography of the country, energy mix potential, policies in support of green economy, a reduction in poverty levels, and a young and dynamic population. The country’s location in the tropics for example presents a number of advantages in terms of the number of renewable energy sources available, which is a critical component of green economy transformation [3].

A number of weaknesses threaten Ghana’s ability to take full advantage of the strengths, these include institutional weakness, lack of sufficient funding, over-reliance on external partners, overdependence on the natural environment, and inadequacy of political will. Given that these weaknesses have the potential to nullify the strengths, it is important to take the necessary steps to effectively reduce or eradicate these barriers [3].

The private sector is an engine for growth and employment, and is at the core of Ghana’s development, demonstrated by flagship policies such as One District One Factory’ and in the ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ vision. However, access to finance by the private sector is limited. Therefore, capacity development for financial service regulators in developing an appropriate regulatory framework and supervisory tools for green financing is crucial. There is, for instance, a need to support Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), Start Ups, business founders through entrepreneurship and financial literacy training, business incubators and acceleration, as well as coaching and mentoring. This needs to be considered in the optic of green and digital economies, especially for disadvantaged population groups in rural and semi-urban areas, women and youth in particular [6].


Initiatives and Development Plans

The project, “Boosting Green Employment and Enterprise Opportunities in Ghana – (GrEEn)”, is a four-year action aimed at creating greater economic and employment opportunities for youth, women and returning migrants by promoting and supporting sustainable green businesses. The project is implemented under the European Union Emergency Trust Fund (EUTF) for Africa.

With trainings and financial support for green businesses such as plastic waste recycling, clean cookstove production and distribution, as well as organic horticulture and compost production, the GrEEn project is expected to promote and support the growth of climate resilient local economies in two regions in Ghana: the Ashanti and Western regions.

Financed by a total contribution of EUR 20,600,000 from EUTF, United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, the GrEEn project will use a combination of performance-based grants, access to finance, technical assistance and skills development to promote green and circular economies. Additionally, there will be support for the incubation and acceleration of selected MSMEs with the potential to green their business models in sectors such as agriculture, energy and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH). In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the project will use a flexible approach to adapt its interventions to the preparedness, response and recovery to COVID-19 through the GrEEn framework.

The GrEEn project will work with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and other relevant ministries as well as Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) [2].


Goals and Ambitions

The National Climate Change Policy (NCCP) (2013) of Ghana seeks to “ensure a climate-resilient and climate-compatible economy while achieving sustainable development through equitable low-carbon economic growth”. The government desires to address all effects of climate change on the economy through effective adaptation, and mitigation strategies. These focus on energy and infrastructure; natural resources and management; agriculture and food security; and disaster preparedness and response [8].


[1], [3], [9]

  • Increase the Environment and Natural Resources Management sector budget.
  • Mainstream National Wealth Accounting.
  • Promote public awareness raising and proactivity.
  • Strengthen institutions to ensure accountability and transparency in environment and natural resource management.
  • Enforce/reinforce existing laws and advance critical policy reforms.
  • Create the enabling environment to attract private investors to help finance policy implementation and invest in green technologies.
  • Readily available financial supports to local private investors from local banks.
  • Access to global funds on green initiatives.
  • Cross border collaborations on climate change.
  • Mainstream programmes aimed at enhancing green economy development of the country e.g., renewable energy and afforestation programmes/policies.
  • Develop Green Energy Finance.
  • Invest in research and institutional capacity building to identify and remove bottlenecks hindering Renewable Energy development.
  • Intensify Renewable Energy Technologies investment and dissemination.
  • Intensify energy efficiency and conservation measures both at the demand and supply ends.
  • Invest in research and capacity development on energy diversification and conservation.
  • Promote large-scale adoption of conservation agriculture and reform land tenure system.
  • Promote large scale scientific irrigation farming.
  • Increase value-addition of agricultural products through investments in infrastructure and technology and strong farmer organizations.
  • Invest in sustainable agriculture research and capacity development.
  • Develop green agriculture finance and fiscal instruments.
  • Promote smart agricultural activities during off agricultural seasons.
  • Invest in waste reduction, reuse and recycling.
  • Ensure a strong regulatory framework for waste management.
  • Promote sensitization awareness on the need for waste management in communities.
  • Establish Green Waste Funds to enable entrepreneurs to take advantage of increasing generation of waste.
  • Implement and intensify/scale up existing programmes on Sustainable Forest Management (SFM).
  • Invest in research and capacity development in SFM.
  • Develop fiscal policy/regulatory instruments for SFM.
  • Invest in industrial expansion to link strongly to other sectors of the economy most especially the agricultural and waste sectors in order to promote value addition of Ghanaian products and manage waste properly.
  • Enforce environmental adaptation policies in order to control pollutions and emissions from industries.
  • Promote the establishment of green industrial funds.