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ECOWAS wants measures implemented to mitigate climate change

Sep 2, 2011, 1:09 PM

The ECOWAS Commission on Wednesday 31st August 2011 in Accra, Ghana, called on community member states to intensify the implementation of Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) agreed by developing countries to reduce the negative impacts of global climate change.

Speaking at the opening of a three-day workshop for capacity building of NAMAs by member states, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, Ousseini Salifou, said “it is necessary for our region to avoid repeating the negative experience of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and to build capacities for Member States to have positive influence on the current mechanism to ensure NAMAs implementation”.

Mr. Ousseini, represented by the Director of the Environment Directorate, Dr. Johnson Boanuh, recalled that NAMAs was a concept introduced after the Bali Action Plan agreed at an international meeting held in the Malaysian city, and which was presented at global climate change meetings in Postdam (Germany), Copenhagen (Denmark) and Cancun (Mexico).

This followed the adoption of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto (Japan) Protocol.

“Although the NAMAs concept is being developed and their legal nature is yet to be determined, it is obvious that developing countries have voluntarily taken NAMAs measures in order to reduce their (Greenhouse Gas) emissions in conformity with the provisions of the UN Convention”, the Commissioner affirmed.

He said the African continent now has the honour of hosting in Durban, South Africa, in December 2011, the 17th Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention, and expressed the hope that ongoing international climate change negotiations would be finalized with a consensus that would benefit developing countries.

In his keynote address, Ghana’s deputy Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, Dr. Edward Omane Boamah, echoed the ECOWAS commissioner’s sentiments, urging the “development and implementation of NAMAs in the shortest possible time”.

According to the Minister, who was represented by Dr. Benony Kortatsi, a director in the Ministry, this is because at the upcoming Durban Conference, “all eyes will be on the pioneers that started experimenting with making NAMAs concept operational”.

He noted that while the UNFCCC seeks to reduce GHG emissions after 2012 when the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol expires, “progress has continued to be slow”, hence the 2009 climate conference in Copenhagen “only resulted in a non-binding Copenhagen Accord”.

Another concept that has emerged alongside NAMAs, the Minister said, “is Measurement, Reporting and Verification or MRV,” adding that this “is important not just internationally, but can also help national and local governments to develop effective policies” to mitigate the negative consequences of global climate change.

He enumerated the mitigation measures undertaken by Ghana including the submission of 55 NAMAs to the UNFCCC, noting however that “selection will be made to focus on key priority sectors in the near future” based on climate benefits alongside costs, barriers, timing and financial opportunities.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Country Director in Ghana, Dr. Kamil Kamaluddeen, said the second series of workshops on NAMAs was being supported by the UN system as a platform for countries in the ECOWAS region to present and discuss their priority action plans and chart a common front towards meeting the Cancun agreements on the global climate change phenomenon.

“It is hoped that by drawing on your expertise, this meeting will raise our awareness about the challenges we face and the many opportunities ahead for collective and collaborative efforts that may slow down (and even halt) the process of climate change”, he added.

Jeremy Webb of the African Climate Policy Centre described the workshop as very timely, adding that NAMAs were emerging from the climate change negotiations process as an opportunity, not only to address greenhouse gas emissions in a nationally appropriate manner, but also “to progress our development in key sectors such as energy, agriculture, transport, and infrastructure, to name but a few”.

“With around 20 of the over 50 NAMA submissions to the UNFCCC coming from Africa, there is a strategic opportunity for Africa to take a lead in this area. As such, practical actions resulting in the implementation of NAMAs coming out of this meeting will help to this end”, he added.

Dr. Edward Osei Nsenkryire, Chairman of Ghana’s National Climate Change Committee, who chaired the opening session of the workshop, said it has been established that in general, African countries were likely to suffer the most from the negative impacts of climate change since the continent has the least capacity to adapt.

To enhance the ability of African countries to cope with climate change and to achieve poverty reduction, he said the response measures “must be clearly linked with the livelihood of the people”.

Participants of the workshop, jointly organized by the ECOWAS Commission, the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology in Ghana, UNDP Ghana and Johannesburg, are discussing, among others, presentations on the development of NAMAs, capacity building for implementation of NAMAs and enhancing negotiations in Durban on the Kyoto Protocol regarding financial issues.

A follow-up to the first meeting in September 2010 in Accra, the present meeting is also discussing capacity building of West African negotiators on Climate Change vis-à-vis the positions of countries and major blocs in order to enrich Africa’s position in the climate change negotiations.