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GCCI engages Gambian private sector on climate change

Nov 1, 2013, 9:41 AM | Article By: Cherno Omar Bobb

The Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) yesterday engaged members of the Gambian private sector on climate change at a workshop jointly organised by the Department of Water Resources and the GCCI at the chamber’s Kerr Jula Secretariat in Bijilo.

In his welcome remarks, Alieu Secka, chief executive officer (CEO) of the GCCI, said the negative impacts from climate change are likely to affect all and sundry in some way.

“However,” he noted, “there will be opportunities for the business community, from micros to large - and talking about these does not mean we are celebrating climate change or campaigning for increasing the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

“On the contrary, responding to the opportunities means helping others to reduce their own vulnerability to the impacts of climate change.”

Indeed under changing climate there will be demand for increased resilience for products and services designed to function in the new climate, the new CEO observed, saying such products will include those that are heat resistant, salinity resistant, waterproof, moisture retaining or made from permeable material.

“Other new products may include products and services not dependent on power, water, transport or communication,” he added.

Mr Secka said further: “There are likely to be market opportunities for (new or existing) products or services that help others deal with the climate risk; for example by providing products or services that manage weather and climate risks such as flood barriers and dykes, resilient aquaculture ponds, clean up services and insurance products.

“Most products and services may be required for large infrastructure adaptation projects e.g. urban greening projects and sustainable urban drainage.”

There will also be business opportunities arising from the supply side, the GCCI CEO said, adding that existing processes or activities could become easier in the new climate, resulting in increased productivity or increased efficiency.

“A new process or activity that was previously constrained by current climate may become viable under the new climate, including new types of agricultural crops,” he remarked.

“Climate change could also have a positive effect on suppliers and contractors so that certain raw materials, products, services and skills become more widely available, easier to source, cheaper or of higher quality.

“For example, there will be the potential for more timber production and trade due to higher carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.”

Mr Secka said it is only through planning and preparedness that some businesses will be more resilient than their competitors to the threats from climate change.

Efforts to understand and prepare for the threats from weather and climate change will help to realize these advantages, he added, saying: “We in the private sector and members of the business community should use this public-private partnership, to build our capacities to understand the science and politics of climate change, the impacts of climate change and how we can respond to these.

“We should work with the climate change community to be in a better position to prepare and plan for the threats from weather and climate change.

“Through this partnership, we in The Gambia can enhance our resilience and have an edge over our competitors to the threats from climate change.”

In his statement on the occasion, Abdou Kolley, minister of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment, said the issue of climate change intersects with international trade in a multitude of ways.

While the World Trade Organisation (WTO) does not have rules that are specific to climate change per se, there is, no doubt, that the rules of the multilateral trading system as a whole are indeed relevant, he noted.

“Today, there are many different perceptions of what the trading system ought to do on climate change,” Minister Kolley said adding: “While some would like to see the trading system curb its own ‘carbon footprint’, through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions it generates in the course of the production, international transportation, consumption of traded goods and services, others would approach the issue differently.”

Mustapha Darboe, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Environment and Parks and Wildlife, who deputised the minister, said that globally business engagement in climate change, particularly on adaptation, is still at an early stage compared to mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions.

There are companies that are classified as early-movers in terms of their contributions to climate change, but “there is none in The Gambia”, he noted.

Edifying presentations and discussions also touched on topics such as the Gambia Early Warning Project by Bernard Gomez; the Science of Climate Change by Bubu Jallow, the Politics of Climate Change by Pa Ousman Jarju, and Business Opportunities in Climate Change by Bubu Jallow.

The presenters are part of the Climate Change Convention Focal Point of The Gambia.