Climate change and sustainable development strategies in the making: what should west African countries expect?

Climate change and sustainable development strategies in the making: what should west African countries expect?

How can western Africa achieve an integrated approach to climate change and sustainable development?

OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) hosted a seminar bringing together various climate change and development experts from both developed and developing nations alike. Based on their regional perspectives, participants identified issues and approaches relevant to an evolving, equitable regime for addressing climate change. This report highlights their key discussions and findings on the topics of synergies and trade-offs between development and climate change, and ways to enhance institutional capacity.

The paper presents the following challenges to achieving an integrated approach to climate change and sustainable development:

  • the compartmentalisation at the international level of debates results in missed opportunities to explore synergies between the conventions by researchers and policymakers
  • the strong dependence by developing countries on external resources to cope with the various and constantly changing issues over time
  • the lack of useful information and targeted awareness-raising on the potential benefits among inter-linkages of the various conventions and sustainable development.

The paper has the following implications for developing country policy makers:

  • institutional capacity building is the preserve of government institutions, and the slowness of government bureaucracy in Africa means that capacity building is not given the necessary priority it deserves. Only a few countries are actively involved in the preparation of CDM projects
  • capacity building is vital, and specific areas for these activities  (such as institutional strengthening, human resource development, public awareness and funding for regional research) should to be identified in each country
  • national communications and fact sheets contribute to climate awareness, but lack of human resources and local technical experts puts the continent in an un-favourable situation. There is need to raise awareness among policy makers, business, industries and academia in Africa
  • successful implementation of an awareness-raising requires targeting the right groups of people but this is hampered by institutional and structural difficulties
  • the Ministries of Envornment and Energy in West African nations are involved in the climate issue, but they have no climate policy experts limited climate-related research. There is need to build capacity in this area so that relevant information is shared by ministries and consensus is built across the governments to facilitate effective implementation.
The related research priorities for CDKN are:
  • how to build analytical and implementation capacity in developing countries to maximise synergies at local, regional and global levels of decision-making
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