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Impacts of Climate Change Tops Agenda, As Sub-regional Workshop Opens

Mar 3, 2009, 3:59 AM | Article By: Baboucarr Senghore

The scientific evidence that climate change is a serious and urgent issue is now compelling. Signs have shown that it warrants strong action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions around the world to reduce the risk of very damaging and potentially irreversible impacts on ecosystems, societies and economies.

Reports indicate that the threat of climate-change both current and future poses to African development is widely documented. Although the continent contributes only about 3.8% of total greenhouse gas emissions, Africa, according to reports, will bear the brunt of impacts from climate change.

This high vulnerability is however, aggravated by multiple biophysical and developmental stresses coupled with low adaptive capacity that today makes the West African population highly vulnerable to various climatic risks.

However, being highly cognisant of the above mentioned effects, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in collaboration with the State Department of Forestry and Environment, is organising a three-day validation workshop on the regional strategic and action plan to reduce vulnerability to climate change in West Africa.

Underway at the Paradise Suites Hotel, the workshop which opened yesterday, brought together key stakeholders from and within the West African Sub-region with the view to mapping out broader actions towards tackling the current problems of climate change and its seemingly increasing and unending effects.

In his opening remarks, Pa Ousman Jarju, director of Water Resources who is also the UNFCC Focal Point, highlighted some of the challenges of climate change most especially to the West African Sub-region. The risks of climate change, he added, are likely to increase in line with forecasted global climate change.

"Sea level is expected to have a significant impact on these coastal populations because of the concentration of poor people in potentially hazardous areas," Mr Jarju said.

Considering the magnitude of threat to the region from climate change, Mr Jarju went on, the interdependence of West African countries with regards to water resources, the low level of awareness of decision makers and the general public on the impact of climate change, the need for a regional strategy is imperative.

For his part, Mr Johnson Boanuh, director of ECOWAS' Environment Department, representing the ECOWAS commissioner of agriculture, environment and water resources said the understanding of scientists of our planet's global warning caused by the effects of concentration of green house gases in the atmosphere is no doubt so evident as to justify the move by states to undertake concrete actions in order to significantly reduce the gas accumulation.

In his keynote remarks, Modou Kotu Cham, Secretary of State for Forestry and the Environment noted that the countries in the sub-region exhibit a large degree of uniformity, in ecological, cultural, social and economic terms.

"The region has long been subjected to high levels of climate variability, in both spatial and temporal terms. Over the past decades, this has led to serious challenges in terms of food security, poverty alleviation and socio-economic developments," he added.