Thursday, April 7, 2011

MDGs: Climate Change Presents Significant Threats

NEWS BANJUL THE GAMBIA (MB)- “Climate change is considered to be one of the most serious threats to sustainable development, with adverse impacts expected on the environment, human health, food security, economic activity, natural resources and physical Infrastructure. 
 “The impacts of climate change, therefore affect our response to other development agendas in the Gambia like the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), country strategic plans and vision. “Climate change presents significant threats to the achievement of the MDGs especially those related to eliminating poverty and hunger and promoting environmental sustainability” says Mr. Ibrahim Ceesay of African Youth Initiative on Climate Change (AYICC).

  Mr. Ceesay was making a power point presentation recently at a two days National Stakeholders’ Workshop on Community Based Adaptation to Climate Change at the Mansea Beach Hotel, organised by Global Unification The Gambia, funded by Action Aid International The Gambia.
 According to Ceesay, recent findings shows that by the year 2050, developing countries will face a threat of  250, 000 million people without waters, 20 million people will be displaced(homeless) due to water upraising from the seas, 20 – 30 percent of the world animal species will go into extinction due to population explosion and desert encroachment of the forest. 
He went on to explained that, the global temperature will increase by 4.5 percent by the year 2050 IPCC stated noting that The Gambia has no better time than now to begin to plan adaptation to climate change before this doom befall us in 2050. 
Towards the end of the 21st century, he remarked that the projected sea-level rise will affect low-lying coastal areas with large populations adding that the cost of adaptation could amount to at least 5-10 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). 
In addition, he said mangroves are projected to be further degraded, with additional consequences for fisheries and tourism for that of The Gambia.
 Explaining community based adaptation to climate change, Ceesay said that communities and societies in general have long been adapting to climate changes, but these adaptations have typically been discrete and reactive. 
The idea, he lectured is that adaptation to climate change should be planned, proactive, and anticipatory which is relatively new and is an important element of community based adaptation.
 According to him, the focus within the UNFCCC on national-level adaptation, for example through National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs), tends to prioritize national-level priorities with lesser considerations for community-based ones. He adds: “the danger is that such national initiatives may actually harm local or indigenous groups if they do not take account of local practices.” 
On the formation of AYICC, Ceesay said that AYICC is a loose youth network that was conceived in 2006 in Nairobi Kenya, during the 2nd International Climate Conference of Youth (COY) held just before the UNFCCC COP 12. 
He stated that AYICC coordinates youth’s efforts on climate change and environmental sustainability with National Chapters in over 38 African Countries adding that “this initiative has continued to link, share knowledge, ideas, experiences, skills and strategies on youth action around Africa on climate change mitigation and adaptation. “It has been identified by most African youths to have the potential to provide a platform for them to address their regional challenges on climate change,” he explained to youths.
 Awareness raising, information and using traditional knowledge as well as strengthening youth’s networks in mitigation and adaptation efforts i.e. AYICC Rwanda, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Mauritania, Mauritius, Malawi, Tanzania, and Cameroon are doing as their best practices and climate actions.  
Again, he stated that Radio and TV Programmes, Community Outreaches, Waste Management Initiatives, Social Media (Face book and Twitter) Theatre and Music, AYICC Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, Kenya, Togo, Benin Republic, Ivory Coast and The Gambia also do in their best practices.
 On challenges encountered by youths, Ceesay cited lack of access to information would empower youth to understand the decision-making process and substantively contribute to policy formation.
 In the development of national strategies for sustainable development, he said, young people were not included on advisory bodies or in other aspects of the decision-making process.
Again, youth engagement continues to be fragmented and sporadic at best noting that a bit of participation here and there will not serve any useful purpose and can be interpreted as involving youth only for the purpose of satisfying a requirement or as a symbolic act without real consequences or recognition of youth as partners in the development of solutions.
In addition, youth are often incorporated in the later stages of policy and decision-making. Often, their work takes place in “parallel events” and is not integrated into official processes. 
   He continued, there persists an absence of support to projects, networks, and national youth non-governmental organizations to involve youth in project identification, design, implementation and follow-up on climate change. He says, the lack of capacity and resources for youths to engage in climate change adaptation, is also a challenge to youths. Despite the fact that numerous international youth climate events have produced excellent recommendations for progress, there is little evidence that governments have obtained, acknowledged and explained how this input from youth will be used in the development of their climate policies. 
The following, he said are AYICC key upcoming activities 201102012 that is African Youth Climate Summit- August 2011, Billion Tree Campaign, Solar Community Radio Stations- Pilot Project, TV Documentary on Youth and Climate Change in Africa
Green Schools Initiative, Youths in Disaster Risk Reduction, Community Based Adaptation to Climate Change, and FULL participation in UNFCCC meetings especially COP 17 Durban-South Africa and other climate change relate events
  The way forward, Ceesay remarked that governments should start developing plan that addresses an enabling environment for participation of women and young people at the local, national regional and international level in decision making on climate change and activities to implement these decisions.
 Including youths as part of official delegates to UNFCCC meetings and other climate change related activities, and provide youths led groups with resources for climate change adaptation and mitigation initiatives.

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