Professor Kwadwo Owusu of the Department of Geography and Resource Development, University of Ghana, has called on parliamentarians to take leading roles in the fight against climate change.
He said the phenomenon posed a great danger to the country’s development, and Members of Parliament (MPs) as initiators of laws and policies, had a responsibility to educate their constituents on the issues of climate change and its threat to national survival.
Prof Owusu was speaking at a forum organised by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs at Parliament House in Accra.
The forum, which was on the theme: “Climate policy mainstreaming: Parliament’s responsibility” was attended by members of the Environment, Science and Technology and the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committees of Parliament.
Other participants included; the Chairperson of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE)and the Head of the Civil Service.
The objective of the programme is to address the knowledge and skill gaps of MPS on climate issues and enhance their ability to bring together their collective sum of expertise to deal with climate change issues at the international, national and sub-national levels.
Prof Owusu called on Ghanaians to up their game by observing good environmental practices, including; planting trees in their communities to reduce the effects of climate change.
He said mainstreaming climate change into all development planning was critical at the national level.
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Majority Leader, expressed concern about the degradation of the environment through unapproved farming practices and bushfires.
He said at the turn of the twentieth century, the forest cover of Ghana was 8.5 million hectares, then into the 21st century, it depleted to 1.5 hectares, and was currently less than 700,000 hectares.
He deplored activities that are fast-tracking climate change, and the depletion and deterioration of the environment, and called for measures to restore the environment as bequeathed by ancestors.
Dr Evans Aggrey Darko, Chief Director, MoPA stated that climate change had become one of the major issues threatening sustainable development in the world.
He said the changes to the weather pattern, including; the reliability and predictability of seasonal rainfall and the impacts of extreme events, now placed unprecedented pressure on water resources, especially in flood and drought-prone regions of the globe.
In Ghana, climate change threatens water, sanitation and hygiene, and floods and droughts, which pollute and reduce water delivery and had become perennial issues to contend with in the northern sector of Ghana.
Dr Aggrey-Darko stated that mainstreaming remained the most effective and way of adopting and ensuring resilience to climate change.
He said the knowledge of parliamentarians as stakeholders and one of the highest initiators of policies and laws on climate change could not be ignored in the climate change discourse.
He said inadequate knowledge and information among policy makers on climate change science and governance had a negative influence on political will and support for the climate change mainstreaming.
“It then becomes imperative to increase the capacity of scientists, negotiators and policy makers to effectively engage them in the formulation and implementation of climate change policies.”