Goal 13 of the SDGs resonate a global commitment to take swift actions to mitigate climate change by 2030. With the knowledge that, these actions may not reduce climate risks to zero, governments all over the world must decide on ways to better manage these risks so they don’t escalate.
According to the World Bank’s report which was released yesterday, 17th November 2020, ministries of finance all over the world must focus on six (6) laid down strategies to approach adaptation challenges.
In less than a decade to go in meeting the 2030 deadline, climate risks all over the world have heightened, in addition to the devastating effects of Covid-19 and Ghana has had its own share of these disturbing conditions. In this same context, Ghana had once been faced with a severe drought and accompanying famine from 1981-1983, hence it would be a nightmare on the country’s part to allow these situations to resurface.
Besides, the second largest employer of Ghana’s labour force, behind the Services sector is the Agriculture Sector which is made up of about 28.46% and most people in this sector are mostly poor. Hence, the worsening effects of climate risks and the impact of Covid-19 may be very dire for this bracket of people and may send the vulnerable poor into extreme poverty.
Ghana’s Climate Change Policy
This notwithstanding, Ghana has made some noble commitments regards adapting to Climate change including its first ever National Climate Change policy (NCCP) which was developed by the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation in 2013.
The policy defines a path way for dealing with the challenges of climate change taking into the consideration the then existing socio-economic context of Ghana. The policy prioritizes five main areas: Agriculture and Food security; Disaster Preparedness and Response; Natural Resource Management; Equitable Social Development; Energy, Industrial and Infrastructural Development. Accordingly, the policy enlists three objectives: effective adaptation; social development; mitigation.
Although some very notable improvements have been achieved, thus far. There is still need to consider the dynamics of the times in order to tailor policies accordingly. More importantly, in the current socio-economic context, incorporating the economic variability facing the economy due to Covid-19 pandemic would be extremely beneficial.
Doing so requires planning ahead and putting in place proactive measures that not only reduce climate risk but also accelerate development, and cut poverty, according to the report
“Climate change is causing risks and pressures that increasingly force societies to rethink their priorities and principles for achieving societal well-being and economic development.”
“Adaptation cannot be an afterthought to development. Instead, by integrating it into policy thinking up front, governments can catalyze robust economic development while also reducing vulnerability to climate change,” says Lead Economist of the World Bank, Stéphane Hallegatte.
New Strategies to address climate change adaptability and resilience
According to the report, policies should be focused on the need to build resilient foundations with rapid and inclusive development. Essentially, the poorer societies are, the more climate change would affect them. Thus, poverty and lack of access to basic services including infrastructure, financial services, health care, and social protection are strong predictors of vulnerability to climate change.
The government should therefore ensure that policies facilitate the adaptation of people and firms. For years, Ghana’s path to realizing the goal 13 of the SDGs has only been government-oriented without the involvement of the private sector and the population at large. But, of course, making this agenda all-inclusive would help accelerate the country’s reach towards this goal.
Additionally, the government should revise land use plans and protect critical public assets and services. The report finds that households and firms in developing countries lose about US$390 billion due to infrastructure (power and water outages and transport) disruptions. Government’s commitment to improving infrastructure and investing a dollar in same would yield fourfold in economic returns, the report says. Albeit, this should not be the governments fight alone but all other stakeholders must be involved.
Again, policies must focus on helping people and firms recover quickly from the risks and impacts of climate change without having to face devastating long-term consequences. Access to emergency borrowing and social protection are essential ways to help firms and people get back on their feet.
Also, there should be a concerted effort to manage financial and fiscal issues at the macro level. For the obvious reason that, climate change affects countries’ macroeconomic positioning and financial system. Coping with climate change impacts in one economic sector is complicated, but coping with the impact on all sectors simultaneously requires high strategic planning due to the ripple effects of climate change on the many linked sub-sectors of an economy.
Lastly, the government must prioritize according to needs, implement and monitor progress. Governments should not only prioritize but also establish robust and institutional frameworks that can assess or monitor the progress of these priorities.
It is not in the best interest of any government to implement stand-alone projects but they must also ensure that government departments and public agencies adopt and mainstream the strategies in all their decisions, and government not relenting on continuously monitoring the impact of actions.
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