More than 260 environmental Non-Governmental Organisation from across the world believe that protecting the world plays a critical role in controlling future diseases outbreaks.

The NGOs have petitioned the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (CMoC) and institutions not to fund projects that directly impact local environments, communities, and livelihoods in their COVID-19 financial support.

Such projects, the NGOs said harm and destroy forest and marine resources and affect the livelihoods of local communities.

The CMoC and the China Development Bank (CDB) in February jointly issued a “Notice on the COVID-19 Pandemic Situation and Development of Financial Services in Supporting the High-Quality Joint-Construction of the Belt and Road”.

In a petition to the Chinese authorities, the NGOs of which A Rocha Ghana is one identified 60 projects across the globe as ‘high-risk projects’ including the planned bauxite mining in Atewa Forest being pursued by the Ghana Integrated Aluminum Development Corporation.

“The COVID-19 has painfully highlighted how climate change and biodiversity loss hamper humanity’s ability to effectively combat pandemics and it is clear that preemptively protecting the natural world plays a critical role in controlling future outbreaks,” the petition said.

The petition indicated that A Rocha Ghana and several NGOs in Ghana were of the view that mining Bauxite in Atewa Forest “is not eligible for the Chinese COVID-19 financial support or only be eligible if all concerns related to design and implementation are not appropriately and effectively addressed to the satisfaction of local communities and stakeholders.”

“At its core, the high-risk projects is based on criteria identified in the Ministry of Commerce and CDB announcement, that projects of “high quality”, comply with local laws, and have “controllable risks,” of which the Atewa Bauxite Mining Project did not meet,” the petition added.

The petition said the Atewa Forest bauxite mining would not contribute to a healthy recovery in the global economy, and may even intensify the environmental drivers – such as biodiversity loss, climate change, habitat destruction, loss of primary forests, and disruption of free-flowing rivers – which increase the likelihood of recurring global pandemics in the future.

Ghanaian NGOs are asking the government to exclude Atewa Forest from bauxite mining to secure crucial water provisioning services, biodiversity protection and climate mitigation.