The fight against climate change demands thorough research and building the capacity of people to enable them identify the causes, effects and solution from the grassroots, Ms Patricia Appiagyei, Deputy Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), has said.
Ms Appiagyei said, thankfully, climate services were being provided by the West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL) to countries within the sub region to ensure effective adaptation to climate change mitigation measures.
Speaking at the opening session of a two-day planning workshop on the future sustainability of WASCAL in Accra, Ms Appiagyei pledged government’s unflinching support to the work of the regional body in ensuring that the climate change mitigation agenda was achieved.
WASCAL is an international non-profit organisation that builds graduate-level scientific capacity and serving policy makers in West Africa with scientific-based advice on adaptation to climate change impacts and land use management.
WASCAL, established with funding from the German Government under its Federal Ministry of Education and Research in 2012, is owned by 10 African member counties, namely, Ghana, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Togo.
The rest are, The Gambia, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Benin.
WASACL continues to build strategic partnership with international, local and regional stakeholders in its pursuit to build a West African think-tank in tackling the issues of climate change.
Ms Appiagyei said the government was very much determined to collaborate with officials at WASCAL to explore the pool of expertise and depth of experience to ensure a win-win battle against the climate change menace.
She, however, noted that the fight against climate change was progressively becoming more intense as a result of its adverse impact on people’s source of livelihood and survival.
She said that was why government over the past few months has renewed its commitment towards improving upon the quality of its environment as well as taken a very deep interest in protecting the environment of its people, “particularly our water bodies, which have been polluted through illegal mining, popularly known as Galamsay”.
“We are determined to ensure a well-fought battle to restore the purity of our rivers, lakes, streams and soils by ensuring that they are not contaminated by any form of chemical”, Ms Appiagyei said.
Professor Jimmy Adegoke, the Executive Director of WASCAL, lauded the government of Ghana for its immense support towards the Centre.
He said the workshop was about brainstorming ideas to be able to reposition the Centre properly to play its critical role of providing the needed academic research and graduate level scientific capacity building.
He urged the Board Members and Directors to give prominence to WASCAL to ensure that the participation and contributions both in kind and cash from the requisite countries become the utmost priority.
Mr Adegoke said the African Development Bank has committed a million euro to support the construction of WASCAL Competence Centre in Ouagadougou.
Mr Chistoph Retzlaff, the German Ambassador, said WASCAL is a key element of his country’s strategy to deal with the effects of climate change that had become major a challenge in the quest to ensure development for everybody on the planet.
He said the international community has recognised the problem of climate change and had started to deal with it, saying the Paris Agreement was an important step towards a carbon-neutral future and Ghana was among the first nations to ratify that agreement.
“Germany has been at the forefront of tackling climate change. We have made it a subject for almost every political field -economic policy, development policy, foreign policy, research policy, etc. No country can deal with this challenge alone”.
Mr Retzlaff said WASCAL had been set up as an excellent example of the German commitment to education and research cooperation with African countries and that the German Government provided 50 million Euros for its construction.
He called on participating countries to pay their obligatory contributions towards the sustenance of WASCAL, saying most of the countries including Ghana owe their obligatory fee of 30,000 Euros annually.