Ministers Adopt Framework of Strategic Guidelines On the Reduction of Vulnerability to Climate Change

19 March 2010
press release

Accra — The ECOWAS Specialized Ministerial Technical Committee on Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources ended their day-long meeting late on Thursday, 18th March 2010 in Accra with the adoption of the "Framework of Strategic Guidelines on the Reduction of Vulnerability and Adaptability to Climate Change in West Africa".

The document, which sets the tone for the development and building of capacities for the region on resilience and adaptation to climate change and severe climate conditions, had earlier been validated by some 50 experts from Member States as well as non-governmental organizations, inter-governmental organizations and representatives of technical and financial partners of ECOWAS.

The Ministers, whose report will be presented to the next meeting of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers, also agreed on the three specific objectives of the action plan which includes ensuring scientific and technical capacity building for the region on the reduction of vulnerability to climate change. The others are the promotion of the integration of climate change components in the elaboration of development policies, strategies, programmes and projects at regional and national levels as well as the development and implementation of regional and national programmes and projects on adaptation to climate change.

The Ministers resolved to strengthen West Africa's preparation and participation in the international negotiations on climate change, especially within the framework of the on-going negotiations on the post-2012 regime on climate change.

They called on the ECOWAS Commission to ensure a speedy finalization of the time frame for the implementation of activities under the action plan, help generate support for the establishment of the regional network of negotiators on climate change and, in collaboration with Member States, define a mechanism on preparation and monitoring of international negotiators on climate change and the other environmental thematics.

The meeting, which endorsed the creation of a management unit on climate change at the ECOWAS Commission, tasked the Commission to finalize the strategy for the mobilization of financial resources which is being elaborated. Similarly, it called for the elaboration of a communication strategy on the plan of action.

Furthermore, the meeting called for encouragement and support for the role of women in the management of the environment. While calling on Member States to nominate a focal point at the national level for implementation of the plan of action, the Ministers called for an effective implementation of the national programme of action on Adaptation to climate Change (NPAA). They also called for the effective involvement of parliamentarians, the civil society, scientific research institutes and the private sector in the implementation of the action plan.

In addition, they urged Member States to provide budgetary allocations to support the implementation of the action plan. Further on the implementation of activities in the action plan, the Ministers emphasised the need to ensure the management of cross-border natural resources, particularly water and forests, good governance, capacity building, transfer of technology and sharing of experiences as well as strengthening of the decentralization and diversification of sources of renewable energy.

The meeting was addressed by the ECOWAS Commissioner for Environment, Agriculture and Water Resources, Mr. Salifou Ousseini and the Minister of Environment, Science and Technology of Ghana, Ms. Sherry Ayittey. In his opening remarks, the ECOWAS Commissioner said it was clear that "the reduction of vulnerability to climate change for the natural, economic and social systems would necessitate the production of scientific knowledge and technical innovations as well as reforms of our current policies and habits". "We need to voluntarily a management system marked by great anticipation capacity in other to significantly achieve effective reduction of vulnerability of the natural systems", stated Mr. Ousseini.

While recalling the mandate to seek means of reducing West Africa's vulnerability to the effects of climate change, he urged the ministers not to hesitate in making the necessary recommendations to better prepare the region for the continuation of the Copenhagen negotiations which will soon be held in Mexico

. In her welcome address, the Ghanaian Minister described the strategy document and the action plan as a "world class document by every standard"; adding that it outlines processes satisfactory enough to pass for all the transnational, cross-cutting and sectoral concerns that Member States may want to see on the negotiating table. She observed that developing countries are much concerned that mitigation actions could distract resources away from poverty eradication and economic growth, two key priorities that hinge on access to reliable energy sources.

Ms. Ayittey said huge investments are set to be made into energy supply infrastructure in lower-emission energy sources, enabling both climate- friendly, low emissions growth to assist developing countries in achieving these priorities. The minister, who stated that climate change impacts can undermine significant components of existing economic and social infrastructure, emphasized that adapting to climate change and building climate-resilient economies is a sine qua non, adding: "Urgency is needed in transmitting towards a regional green low-emissions economies now".

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