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Ecowas equips media, civil society and private sector to tackle climate change

Jul 25, 2016, 11:28 AM | Article By: Lamin Jahateh

The West African regional bloc, Ecowas, has organised a three-day workshop to strengthen the capacity of the media, civil society organisations and the private sector in the sub-region to effectively play their respective roles to tackle climate change.

The seminar, held from 13 to 15 July at the Ecowas Commission in Abuja, Nigeria, was part of the bloc’s strategic plan on the reduction of vulnerability and increase adaptation to climate change in West Africa.

During the programme, the representatives from West African networks of civil society organisations, media and the private sector were sensitised on the Paris Agreement. 

They were also taken through the politics and process of international negotiations on climate change that have led to the adoption of the Paris Agreement on 12 December 2015.

Dr Johnson Boanuh, director of the Ecowas Commission Environment Directorate, said the Paris Agreement was signed at a time when the effects of climate change are “indeed relevant and increasingly obvious”.

He said although the latest Assessment Report of the intergovernmental panel on climate has it that climato-skeptics need to be convinced, the consequences of climate change are multifaceted and are there for everyone to see.

Research has it that climate change is responsible for the frequent sea level rise, droughts and floods recurrently affecting peoples’ lives and livelihood, and their living environment as well as any sustainable development initiatives.

“The global response to these changes has led to the adoption of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol in 1992 and 1997, respectively,” Dr Boanuh said.

The convention and protocol were adopted with a view to consider what should be made to reduce the global warming and temperatures.

The last Conference of the Parties, dubbed COP21, held from 30 November to 12 December 2015 in Paris, France, resulted in the adoption of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

“This agreement was reached, thanks to the contribution of a variety of stakeholders including civil society organisations, the private sector and the media, through calls and movements of pressure on the international community for more involvement in combating the adverse effects of climate change,” the senior Ecowas official said.

“Like all other countries that are parties to the UNFCCC, the Ecowas member states have already signed this agreement which was opened for signature in New York at the UN Headquarters on 22nd April 2016.”

However, no West African country is yet to ratify the agreement, thus the officials tasked the media and the CSOs to embark on intensive advocacy for the ratification and subsequent implementation of the agreement.

Dr Boanuh said the Ecowas Commission would “fully play its part” to provide information to relevant actors in order to facilitate stakeholders contribution to the fight against climate change.

Towards the end of the three-day workshop, each of the three groups of stakeholders have identified potential contributions, and steps to be taken at both regional and national levels for the effective implementation of the Paris Agreement, and the fight against climate change in West Africa.