UENR Hosts a Maiden International Conference on Climate Change and Sustainable Development in Africa dubbed ‘ICCCSDA 2017’

The ICCCSDA was held at Eusbett Hotel International Conference Centre, Sunyani, Ghana on 25th-28th July 2017. The conference was organized under the auspices of the Centre for Climate Change and Gender Studies (3CGS) and Earth Observation Research and Innovation Centre (EORIC) based at the University of Energy and Natural Resources, Sunyani, Ghana. The theme of the conference was “Climate Change and Sustainable Development: Strengthening Africa’s Adaptive Capacity”.

Climate Change remains the largest environmental threat which could have negative implications for human existence if not addressed. Attention is being paid to Climate Change at the global level due in part to a growing understanding of its devastating effects and its intricately woven relationship with Sustainable Development. Africa’s natural resources are under pressure due to increasing population growth and gradual intensification of agriculture. The conference sought to create a platform for knowledge sharing which would inform decision making in climate sensitive areas such as natural resources, agriculture, food and water security, energy, science and technology and transport. It contributes to an increased understanding of Climate Change and Africa’s position on the Climate Change Adaptation landscape.

About 130 participants registered for the conference including complimentary conference participants, invited guests, media, postgraduate students, and staff. The Conference participants were from Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Togo, Algeria, Zimbabwe, United Kingdom and South Korea.  The conference was structured in three forms-the opening of the conference, the sub-plenary sessions, and the scientific parallel sessions.

DAY 1

Sub-Plenary Session 1

The conference began with a sub-plenary session at 8:30 am moderated by Dr. Leslie Danquah, a lecturer at the University of Energy and Natural Resources.

Prof. (Mrs.) Esi Awuah, the foundation Vice Chancellor of UENR set the ball rolling with an incisive and touching presentation on Water Security, Sanitation and Africa’s Adaptive Capacity. In her presentation, she highlighted that Africans have the potentials to meet the adverse effects of climate change but the major challenge is what she described as the “when we get to the bridge, we will cross” syndrome. She added that if Africans will be proactive and effective, we can and will be able to solve problems challenging us.

Mr. Yaw Kyei Amoako of the Health and Safety Superintendent, Newmont Akyem Gold Mine gave a short but educative presentation on Climate Change and Forest Reclamation; A Practitioner’s Perspective. In his presentation, he pointed that the use of cell phones has become the major threat and cause of many accidents on our roads. Mr. Amoako spoke of some of the interventions and strategies that Newmont Gold Ghana Limited is doing in response to climate change. One of the strategies is the planting of new tree seedlings in consultation with the Forestry Commission on 60 hectares of land prior from June 2014 and to 257 hectares as at September 2016.

Dr. Nana Sarfo Agyemang Derkyi gave a presentation on behalf of Prof. S.G.K Adiku of University of Ghana, Legon. In the presentation, causes and consequences of climate change on livelihoods and national economies came out broadly.

Finally, Mr. Victor Mombu from USAID-Advance crowned the keynote plenary session with a presentation on promoting Climate Smart Technologies and Practices Focus on Minimum Tillage. He touched on their activities and objectives with regards to the Agricultural Development and Value Chain Enhancement (ADVANCE) project.

Conference Opening

Dignitaries present were Professor Harrison Dapaah, ICCCSDA Chairman and the Vice Chancellor of UENR; Honorable Evans Bobie, the Deputy Brong Ahafo Regional Minister; Her Excellency Mrs. Sun Baohong, Chinese Ambassador to Ghana; Ms. Ruka Sanusi of the Ghana Climate Innovation Center, Accra; and Dr. Johnson N. Nkem, Senior Climate Adaptation Expert from the UN Economic Commission for Africa, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The opening remarks were delivered by Dr. (Mrs.) Mercy Derkyi, the Chair of the Local Organizing Committee and the Head of the Centre for Climate Change and Gender Studies (3CGS). She highlighted that the idea behind the conference is geared towards taking proactive steps in achieving Sustainable Development Goal 13. She applauded members of the organizing team for their selfless dedication to making the conference a success and also appreciated the sponsors.

Professor Harrison Dapaah, the Conference Chairman and Vice Chancellor of the University of Energy and Natural Resources welcomed all the participants to University to participate in the International Conference on Climate Change and Sustainable Development in Africa. He wished all a fruitful conference. Honorable Evans Opoku Bobie, the Deputy Regional Minister for Brong Ahafo graced the occasion and welcomed everyone to the Brong Ahafo Region, a region of choice in Ghana when it comes to the organization of conferences and summits.

There was a cultural display by a cultural group from Odumase and a drama on Climate Change by Odumaseman Senior High School. Her Excellency Mrs. Sun Baohong (Chinese Ambassador to Ghana) gave a brief speech on China’s contribution to Africa to combat climate change. This was followed by a short message from Ms. Ruka Sanusi from the Ghana Climate Innovation Center. She spoke briefly about the Center and highlighted on their objectives. She told the participants that they can access funds from the center if they have any innovation research or in any business that contributes to solving climate change related problems.

The Keynote Address was delivered by Dr. Johnson N. Nkem, a Senior Climate Adaptation Expect, UN Economic Commission for Africa, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. His topic was on ‘Spurring Africa’s Sustainable Development with Trade and Greening’ His presentation touches on key thematic areas such as  Africa’s Development Perils; Investment needs for response, Resetting Africa’s Development Paradigm; Strategic Interventions; Trade and greening. One key message of the keynote speaker is that there are business opportunities in adapting agriculture to climate change. However, this has to be harnessed using the market as a pull factor.

Sub-plenary session 2

This was followed by sub-plenary sessions. Mrs. Valerie Fumey-Nassah from the Resource Management Support Centre spoke made a presentation on Forest Plantation, a Strategy for Climate Change Mitigation in Ghana. Dr. George Ortsin, National Coordinator, UNDP GEF Small Grant Programme presented on Funding Opportunities for Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Projects. Dr. Emmanuel Opuni Frimpong, Pro-Vice Chancellor of UENR presented on Forestry: A Pivotal Tool in Africa’s Adaptive Capacity. A representative of the Minister for Energy also presented on Renewable Energy Potentials in Ghana. Dr. Francis Nyagbenu, the Regional Director, Environmental Protection Agency, Sunyani also made a presentation on Environmental Protection Agency: A Key Actor in Climate Change Mitigation.

Scientific Parallel Sessions

After the Keynote Plenary Session, there were three scientific sessions running concurrently. The presentations were grouped under three sub-themes – Environment, Technology and Sustainable Development; Renewable Energy, Resilient and Green Economies; and Agriculture, Aquaculture, and Natural Resources.

DAY 2

On the second day, the programme started with a sub-plenary session. The session saw presentations by Professor Daniel Obeng-Ofori, the Vice Chancellor of the Catholic University College of Ghana on “Enhancing Food Security in Africa in the midst of Climate Change. He noted that, in the last two decades, 200 million people have been lifted out of hunger and the prevalence of chronic malnutrition in children has decreased from 40 to 26 percent. He ended by giving the following recommendations to combating climate change;  adopting reliable weather forecast mechanisms for farmers, improved drought resistant seeds for farmers, adoption of organic agriculture practices, use of ICT and mobile phones for the dissemination of early warning systems for farmers, and aggressive tree planting.

Mr. Obed Ogega from the African Academy of Science (AAS), in Nairobi, Kenya under the CIRCLE programme presented on the Funding Opportunities for Research in Climate Change and Sustainable Development. He argued that the AAS is a pan-African organization, established in 1985, and headquartered in Nairobi. Its mandate includes recognizing excellence, Think Tank and Advisory Functions and STI Programs. He outlined some funding opportunities such as Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative of the UN Secretary General in 2011; UN-REDD programme which started in 2008; the Partnership for Climate Finance and Development; Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa Climate Initiative and others.

Professor Victor Agyeman, the Director General of the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research presented on Climate Change, Sustainable Development, and Industry: Opportunities and Threats. He noted that there is three climate change apocalypse including the pessimists, the deniers like Donald Trump and the optimists.

Professor Yaw Ameyaw from the University of Education, Winneba made the final presentation on “Mainstreaming Climate Change into Primary and Secondary Education Curricula”. He observed that it has become urgent for the incorporation of climate change into primary and secondary education in Ghana considering the global threat of climate change on humanity.

The sub-plenary session was followed by three parallel sessions that ran concurrently. The presentations were grouped under the three sub-thematic areas – Environment, Technology and Sustainable Development; Renewable Energy, Resilient and Green Economies; and Agriculture, Aquaculture, and Natural Resources.

DAY 3

On the third day, the day’s session began with forum organized by the Ghana Climate Innovation Center. This was followed by three parallel sessions under the three sub-themes.  The ICCCSDA 2017 ended with a Farewell Cocktail on the evening of Thursday, 27th July 2017.

DAY 4

The conference was crowned with a tour to Boabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary. This tourist attraction is a model community eco-tourism site. Participants had the opportunity to experience the results of using indigenous knowledge to conserve nature and create a tourism facility owned and managed by a local community.

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