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UNDP Ghana Rep. outlines solutions to climate change issues in Africa

By Justice Kofi Bimpeh
climate_change
Gita Honwana Welch

The Resident Representative of UNDP, Ghana Country Office, Gita Honwana Welch has outlined some three key steps that needed to be taken by all stakeholders in solving issues regarding climate change in Africa.

Speaking at the "Africa Climate Week Ghana's Nationally Determined Contributions Investment Forum" in Accra, the UNDP representative in Ghana said: "But the question is how do we unlock these benefits? There are 3 answers to this: i) strong political will, ii) sufficient financial deployment and iii) understanding that climate change must be addressed in a wholesome and strategic manner. These three keys will simultaneously solve the majority of our other social, humanitarian and environmental issues."

According to her, climate change has a lot of opportunities which most African countries can take advantage off.

 "Climate change has been called the ‘greatest investment opportunity in history’, valued at about 10 percent of global GDP, and addressing it provides an unprecedented opportunity to unlock massive economic and social benefits that can help us achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and leave no one behind. Studies have found that bold climate action could trigger US$26 trillion in economic benefits by 2030 and create around over 65 million new jobs."

Below is the full speech of the UNDP Ghana Rep.

 

Ms. Gita Honwana Welch, Resident Representative a.i.
UNDP, Ghana Country Office
Message delivered during the Opening Session of the “Ghana’s Nationally Determined Contributions Investment Forum” | Africa Climate Week 2019
18 March 2019, Accra, Ghana

Deputy Minister of Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Madam Patricia Appiagye,
Acting Executive Director of Environmental Protection Agency, Mr. John Pwamang,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honoured to welcome you to this Investment Forum that is jointly organized by UNDP and the Government of Ghana.

The alarm bells from last year’s IPCC Special report are still ringing loudly, but as we progress through 2019, UNDP’s primary message on climate change is one of optimism.

Climate change has been called the ‘greatest investment opportunity in history’, valued at about 10 percent of global GDP, and addressing it provides an unprecedented opportunity to unlock massive economic and social benefits that can help us achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and leave no one behind. Studies have found that bold climate action could trigger US$26 trillion in economic benefits by 2030 and create around over 65 million new jobs.

But the question is how do we unlock these benefits? There are 3 answers to this: i) strong political will, ii) sufficient financial deployment and iii) understanding that climate change must be addressed in a wholesome and strategic manner. These three keys will simultaneously solve the majority of our other social, humanitarian and environmental issues.

Firstly, we need strong political will. The Secretary General of the United Nations has described climate change is the defining issue of our time, stating that we are at a defining moment. In light of this, he has convened a climate summit this September in New York, putting the issue in the spotlight for world leaders to gather and discuss under one roof. Led by the Secretary General, the whole UN system is mobilising itself to take this opportunity, and support governments make the strongest commitments towards climate action that they can, in advance of COP25 in Santiago, Chile, in November, when these assertions will be clarified through the multi-lateral process.

Ghana is a country that has clearly demonstrated strong political will in raising the ambition of its climate agenda, as showcased by the NDC Implementation and Investment Plan that will be presented during this Forum and, more importantly, by the President of the Republic of Ghana during the high-level segment taking place on Wednesday morning, which I hope all of you will be able to attend.

However, like many other countries, a lot of the targets are conditional, which brings me onto point number two. We need to mobilise more funds, private funds, to finance NDCs. In Africa, approximately 85% of the regions NDCs depend on international financial support. And it is estimated that 85 – 90 percent of the Paris Agreement goals need to be financed by private sector money if they are to be met.

Ghana is a regional champion in engaging the private sector in its approach to climate change, and UNDP has been working with the government to support these efforts. Currently, The Ministry of Environment and the Environmental Protection Agency of Ghana are working with a team of experts from public and private sector on the development of standardized low carbon products that can be aggregated and structured to attract investors.

The next few years are critical. Investment decisions taken now will have medium and long-term ramifications, and we must ensure they unlock low-carbon development pathways, instead of reinforcing the carbon-intensive pathways we drastically need to move away from. Significantly increasing finance flows is another critical key to unlocking the benefits of addressing climate change.

The third and arguably the most important component of tackling climate change is to understand that climate change is a development issue. Climate change impacts are detrimental to development, while climate solutions are drivers of development, with the rolling out of distributed renewable energy to rural communities being a fine example. In other words, the Paris Agreement goals and the Sustainable Development Goals are strongly interconnected.

We need to work on considering climate change in every ministerial decision taken and incorporating it into every development plan and accompanying budgetary framework. This understanding of the medium and long-term risks that climate change poses, will drive political will and business towards committing maximum resources towards tackling it.

In conclusion, I can see from the programme we have in front of us that this Investment Forum will give us the opportunity to discuss these three key issues in detail and reflect on how we can jointly contribute to implementing Ghana’s ambitious commitment to the Paris Agreement.

Allow me therefore to thank the Government of Ghana, and in particular the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation and the Environmental Protection Agency, for organising this Forum during the Africa Climate Week and choosing UNDP as its partner. This is a reflection of the great collaboration that our organizations have developed and strengthened during the past 10 years, which has contributed to establish a strong policy and institutional framework to address climate change.

I would also like to thank in advance all those that will support this Forum as moderators, speakers and any other form to make it a meaningful and successful event.

I wish you a fruitful discussion.