Research community builds momentum for climate action after COP21

The historic Paris Agreement at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) last December has set the tone for the implementation of nationally determined contributions submitted to the UNFCCC.

From this year, countries would be expected to put their climate proposals into action – major areas include adaptation, mitigation and finance.

In sub-Saharan Africa, natural and human systems are under the threat of climate change.

There are challenges to the continent’s dominant rain-fed agriculture, sustainability of urban areas, overstretched health services, water resources management and energy resources.

Research findings indicate that the length of growing period of most crops in expected to drop below 90 days in the Sahel region, heightening the insecurity of agricultural productivity and livelihoods of smallholder farmers.

In Ghana for instance, food insecurity is predicted with a decline in yields of 5-25% between 2000 and 2050 and a projected revenue drop of 17-32%.

This a major issue requiring the attention of researchers, policy makers and politicians.

“Improving the understanding of the vulnerability of socially disadvantaged rural and urban dwellers, and critical social services will require sound climate change and adaptation policies,” says Prof. William Otoo Ellis, Vice-Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).

He observed climate change awareness is often missing in sectoral developmental policies and strategies as “some policies to the benefit of one sector have been to the detriment of the other”.

A research centre within the KNUST, West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL), is hosting a consultative workshop on this important national and global issue of climate change.

It provides an opportunity to review existing knowledge gap in the subject, build research networking capacity and ultimately provide climate change research update for policy action.

Prof. Samuel Nii Odai, Director of KNUST WASCAL-CCLU, says the workshop is exploring Ghana’s priority issues in climate change, research agenda in the short to long term and public-private collaborations.

“We know government is doing its part but we believe that as a university we need to take that initiative… if these things are not properly covered in terms of generating new knowledge for where we live, that is in Ghana and to put these in our policy briefs, what it means is that government agencies will not even understand what is happening and how to respond,” he noted.

Prof. Odai says the workshop has the advantage of drawing inputs from the Paris Agreement for local implementation of action plans.

“We are at the downstream so we are benefitting from the knowledge generated in other countries. We are actually riding on knowledge that has been made available; we are going to work on concrete information which have been deliberated on and more synthesized,” he said.

He added that it has become critical for the country to be ready for the worse scenario of climate change in the near future.

Prof. Jerome Omotosho of the Department of Meteorology and Climate Change at the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria, has charged governments in Africa to commit resource to research and development, if the continent is to win in tackling the phenomenon of climate change.

He says the threats posed by climate change to local economies require substantial increase in budgetary allocation to tackle environmental degradation.

“No research, no development,” he said.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

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