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Developing Legal Tools for Citizen Empowerment: Social Responsibility Agreements in Ghana’s Forestry Sector

By: Dominic Ayine

Social Responsibility Agreements (SRAs) are formal legal agreements between local communities and firms engaging in the extraction/exploitation of natural resources within these communities’ lands. SRAs empower communities to legally require companies to allocate a portion of their revenues to social amenities for the community such as schools, potable water, street lighting and community centers. This in-depth study by the International Institute for Environment and Development (a policy research organization) on the legal framework and implementation of SRAs with commercial logging companies in Ghana shows SRAs to be an innovative tool in advancing community rights to share in the benefits of resource exploitation. Yet, optimal implementation of SRAs may only occur when communities are informed, allowed to participate and are given the legal assistance and capacity to negotiate effectively and monitor compliance.

Keywords: Resource rights, Corporate social responsibility, forestry.