Mr Rueben Ottou, Acting Executive Director of the Ghana Wildlife Society, has called on government to take the lead in ensuring that climate sensitive policies are incorporated into district level development plans.
He said adequate capacity for the implementation of climate sensitive interventions at the district level would help reduce vulnerability, increase resilience of communities and safeguard life and property against climate related risks.
Mr Ottou made the call in a statement issued to commemorate the International Day of the Earth which was on the theme: “The Face of Climate Change”.
The Day was set aside to promote harmony with nature and the Earth to achieve a just balance among the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations of humanity.
Mr Ottou said climate change had many faces, which required response measures at different levels.
He commended Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts in piloting district level climate sensitive development planning at selected districts, but said there was the need to scale up those efforts.
He asked the government to strengthen climate risk management as one of the focal areas under the private sector partnership initiatives.
According to the Acting Executive Director, private sector initiatives in areas such as sustainable forest management and plantation development under REDD+ programmes, and crop insurance initiatives under various donor support programmes should be strengthened.
Although climate change is a natural phenomenon, human interference with the earth’s systems through increased production of greenhouse gases has resulted in rapid changes in the earth’s climate.
In Ghana, climate change and variability is manifested through delay in the onset of the rainy season, less rain-days, increasing intensity of rain resulting in floods, increasing dry-spells and drought, sea level rise resulting in coastal erosion and inundation.
“Many people think climate change is a remote problem, but the fact is that it is already impacting on people, wildlife and national economies,” Mr Ottou added.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, by 2020, between 75 and 250 million people in Africa, are projected to be exposed to increased water stress.
Whiles yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50 percent with agricultural production, including access to food, being severely compromised.
According to the Netherlands Climate Change Assistance Programme (NCAP) Report 2008, climate change may increase in the incidence of tropical diseases such as meningitis, measles, diarrhea and guinea worm, especially in the northern parts of Ghana.
The Acting Executive Director noted that climate change was already impacting on the Ghanaian economy and that perennial floods, drought and the extreme weather conditions had affected agriculture, livelihoods and property.
He asked companies to consider dedicating some of their Corporate Social Responsibilities initiatives towards reducing the effect of climate change.
Mr. Rueben Ottou said as an organization, Ghana Wildlife Society had been educating over 5,000 wildlife club members on the effects of climate change and the need for individuals and communities to take action whilst contributing to policy discussions.
The Society is also coordinating the Ghana Climate Adaptation Network (Ghana CAN), which is a civil society organisations platform established with support from Building Capacity to Meet the Climate Change Challenge (B4C) Project and CARE International’s Adaptation Learning Programme.
The network seeks to promote effective information sharing among policy makers, researchers and practitioners as well as promoting best adaptation practices in the country.