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Capacity building in West Africa – FAO trainings on the Global Bioenergy Partnership (GBEP) sustainability indicators in Togo and Ghana


FAO’s Global Bioenergy Partnership (GBEP) team in collaboration with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Centre for Renewable Energy and Efficiency (ECREEE) recently completed a four-month project to enhance the use of bioenergy in Togo and Ghana, funded by the German development agency (GIZ).

Through training and workshops, the aim of the project was to develop the capacity of local stakeholders in Togo and Ghana to understand, assess and implement the GBEP sustainability indicators.

The indicators consist in a set of 24 relevant, practical, science-based, voluntary sustainability indicators for bioenergy. These indicators and the respective methodology sheets, which address the production and use of all forms of bioenergy, are intended to guide any analysis of bioenergy undertaken at the domestic level with a view to informing decision making and facilitating the sustainable development of bioenergy.

Measured over time, the indicators can, for example show progress towards or away from a sustainable development path that has been determined at national level.

During the project and as part of a participatory process, local stakeholders were able to use these indicators to discuss the sustainability of the current national bioenergy production and to identify alternative bioenergy forms that could be relevant for their national context and for the needs of the people.

Mr Sama Boundjouw, Secretary General of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry Resources of Togo, opened the first workshop held in Lomé. He expressed sincere appreciation for the training describing how the indicators could be used to inform policy decisions. He said that he was confident that the trainings could facilitate the development of projects to support Togo’s wood energy value chain.

Modern bioenergy offers alternative forms of energy, facilitates the transition from traditional use of biomass to more efficient uses and reduces the use of fossil fuels. In sub-Saharan Africa, where access to modern energy is limited, bioenergy has the potential to boost agriculture, increasing productivity and creating new employment opportunities. However, if not managed effectively, developing bioenergy may trigger negative environmental and socio-economic impacts (for example including possible harmful effects on food security, water quality and biodiversity).

Following the success of this project, GBEP has considered it as a new “format” to be replicated in other developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa and all over the world, to continue raising awareness and to deliver technical training on implementing GBEP indicators.

As FAO Project Coordinator, Dr Maria Michela Morese explained:

“The sustainable bioenergy sector could bring multiple benefits to Togo and Ghana – following four months of training, the capacities of the national experts to assess and improve the sustainability of the national bioenergy production and use has improved”.

“Among the objectives of these trainings” she added “…is the aim to better contribute to greenhouse gas emissions reduction and foster a transition towards a more efficient and sustainable use of biomass, while reducing pressure on forests”. 

The themes explored during the implementation of the project were presented at the Global Landscape Forum in December 2018 to show the key contribution of a sustainable wood energy sector to Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR). The project has been praised for helping countries to achieve commitments they made under the Paris Agreement.