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Climate Change Should Be National Security Concern - Dr Manteaw
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Dr Bob Offei Manteaw, Director of Research, Innovation and Development of Africa Institute of Sanitation and Waste Management (AISWAM), said the launch of the National Climate Change Policy was in the right direction.

In an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Accra, Dr Manteaw said the Policy, which was launched by President John Dramani Mahama, would provide yet another opportunity for a rethink of Ghana’s commitment to address the complex challenges of climate change.

He urged Government to move climate change discussions beyond empty rhetoric by putting in place proactive governance mechanisms that are effective and far-reaching.

Dr Manteaw, who is a Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction Governance Expert, is of the view that climate change discussions in Ghana and most African countries have been left out of mainstream policy issues and does not get the needed attention.

He said considering the threats posed by climate change impacts on national development processes, it would not be a big task to make the issue a national security concern.

According to him: “It is time for Ghana and for that matter Africa to take ownership of climate change challenge by putting in place context-relevant measures that are proactive."

He said such approaches would go a long way in ensuring and assuring the country’s resilience to both expected and unexpected climate change shocks.

Dr Manteaw said most advanced countries have long-perceived and approached climate change as a national security concern and have put in place governance mechanisms that engage civilians and the security forces to use intelligence gathering and scenario analysis techniques and strategies to get on top of the phenomenon.

“The argument is not for us in Ghana or Africa to blindly imitate what the advanced countries have done," he said.

Dr Manteaw said: “It is just logical we also take the necessary steps to protect and secure our development gains.”

“Managing climate change is all about managing risks of an uncertain future. It is about being ahead of the curve by putting in place proactive adaptation and mitigation measures that prepare individuals, whole communities and institutions to be ahead of both expected and unexpected shocks.”

According to him, current research on climate projections, gives a gloomy picture of further increases in extreme weather events and disasters that could potentially have devastating impact on the quality of life, social welfare, infrastructure and livelihoods systems.

"Calling for climate change to be considered a national security issue is therefore not aimed at creating unnecessary panic; it is the reality of a world in change and one which demands of its people to adapt accordingly to meet challenges of the times."

He said Ghana has already experienced some climate-induced disasters and weather-related events, adding: "The annual Accra floods and droughts in parts of northern Ghana are particularly instructive, it is my view that they are early indicators of plausible future scenarios, which could be even more pervasive."

Dr Manteaw said climate projections are almost unanimous in predicting more of such events in terms of frequency, severity and consequence.

He said the destructive impacts of climate change are already evident in many communities in Ghana, particularly in the coastal settlements and agricultural communities, while there is growing correlation between climate change, sanitation and public health.

"Beyond these, there is also the threat of climate change directly impacting critical sectors such as Water Resources, Health, Agriculture, Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy with the bottom line eventually being economics,” he said.

Dr Manteaw said some of these impacts are slow-onsets and are not immediately seen or felt, but in a way, have negatively affected the levels of appreciation of the climate change challenge.

He said many people do not understand the complexity of climate change manifestations and impacts and also not many governments and policy leaders understand what the phenomenon means to national development.

Dr Manteaw explains that climate change can act as a threat multiplier for instability in an already vulnerable situation, hence the need for government to move beyond the sound bites of the launch of the climate change policy and institute new and purposeful governance frameworks that reflect the seriousness and urgency of the challenge the country is facing.

He said: "A National Climate Change Policy is certainly a remarkable landmark and a step in the right direction. We also need to remind ourselves that we have seen several of such documents not going past a place on the office book shelf. We need to move beyond rhetoric."
Source: GNA

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