A five-day course on Coastal Adaption to Climate Change has been opened at the Pempamsie Hotel in Cape Coast.
The course which is being held under the auspices of the Centre for Coastal Management, Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences of the School of Biological Sciences of the University of Cape Coast in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) would draw the attention of implementing agencies to the urgency of addressing climate change issues especially pertaining to the country.
Officials from the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Town and Country Planning and the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) are participating in the workshop.
Opening the workshop, the Provost of College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, Prof. L. K. Sam-Amoah, said the emission of greenhouses gases like carbon dioxide, things that provide us electricity like oil and gas contribute heavily to climate change.
“The worry here is that, if we continue to go down the same path that we are going down today, the world as we know will change dramatically for the worse”.
The consequences of Climate Change according to Prof Sam-Amoah were evident in the intense floods, severe drought and increasing air and water temperatures that occur nowadays.
The Provost indicated that activities such as sand wining, fishery over exploitation and infrastructure development in the coastal areas have exacerbated the impacts of climate change as well as increasing the intensity of natural hazards. He said in many cases, the country has not given sufficient priority or attention to climate change issues and attributed the reasons to low human capacity to conceptualize integration of climate change issues in the work of institutions.
A Principal Programme Officer at the Environmental Protection Agency, Central Region, Mr. Peter Nana Ackon, said the development of a course of study in climate change aimed at equipping professionals, academia, civil and public servants to help mitigate effects of climate change was not only timely but an imperative for socio-economic development of a lower middle-income country like Ghana.
The country’s forest cover has been on constant decline for some time now therefore, contributing significantly to carbon emissions. Explaining the ramifications of this, Mr. Ackon indicated that climate change phenomenon is caused by increasing global temperature, which has rippling effects on the ecosystems.
“Our forest cover, which is a carbon sink, has shrank from its original 36 percent to about 10 percent by the year 2000”.
According to Mr. Ackon, a study by the EPA a few years ago revealed a critical gap in the knowledge and appreciation of the subject on climate change and its ramifications on national development. “Analysis of the respondents alone, given our level of literacy as a nation was scary, as many showed little comprehension of the issue, let alone its consequences”.
He said it was therefore a delight to have a course designed to build the capacity of men and women in critical areas of the national institutional set up. It was his hope that, this will help mainstream climate change issues into everyday discussions and planning of the country’s socio-economic development.
The Programme officer noted that the June 3, 2015 floods in Accra revealed the need for planning our towns and cities to withstand the vagaries of changing climate. He said many communities and their livelihoods were under serious threat from the rising sea levels and encroachment of the sea into lands as homes, beaches, landing cites and the socio-economic well –being of fisher folks were shattered.
“Obviously, we cannot continue as business as usual mentality. Mr. Chairman, the country needs a serious stirring to understand that our very survival is under threat and like the evolution theory, the fittest survive”.
He therefore called for the need to explore innovative ways of mitigating and adapting to the changing climate. “This is when we must start stitching in time if we have any hope of saving nine, and I dare say that the development of this course is a stitch in the right direction”.
Present at the opening ceremony were the Dean, School of Biological Sciences, Prof. Johnson Nyarko Boampong; Head of Department Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Dr. Noble Asare and the Director Centre for Coastal Management, Dr. Denis W. Aheto.