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Vice President John Mahama, has urged world leaders to adopt a comprehensive and sustainable approach to save developing countries from slipping deeper into poverty, caused by global climate change. He underscored the importance of international support in order to reduce the vulnerability of developing countries to natural hazards.

Mr. John Mahama made the call in a speech read on his behalf at an international symposium on Sustainable Ecosystems, organized by Valley View University (VVU), in collaboration with Ecological Engineering Society (Germany), at Dodowa on Monday. He expressed disquiet at the challenges caused by global climate change to developing countries, and said it could have negative global implications.

Mr. Mahama stressed: "It must be understood that additional climatic change-related stress can result in increased instability in poor developing nations. It could also engender increased migration to compound urbanization problems with a dire impact within and between developed economies". He called on world leaders to collaborate to mitigate the effect of climate change variables especially in Africa.

Vice President Mahama noted that better management of land resources could have positive impact on Ghana's socio-economic development and a global-scale rippling effect as well. He said the way the country managed its forests, agricultural lands, wetlands and other lands could bridge national and global interests. Mr Mahama said "If we grasp the opportunity courageously, land management can become a major force in tackling food security, rural energy supply, climate change adaptation and mitigation as well as low-carbon economic development".

Vice President Mahama, however, expressed worry over the negative impact climate change had on agriculture, energy and food security in the country. "If this is not immediately addressed, it will affect water supplies to communities and impact negatively on an already dire sanitation situation with its attendant health problems in the country. It would reduce our potential for hydro-electric power generation leading to disruptions in energy use for domestic, social, commercial and industrial purposes," he said.

Mr Mahama said rising sea levels, caused by climate change, had negative economic and social implications as sea erosion resulted in relocation of affected communities. Vice President Mahama expressed regret that some communities in the eastern part of the country were recently hit by rising sea levels resulting in loss of livelihood. He said government was committed to ensuring sustainable environmental practices and thanked the German government for supporting efforts at developing an ecosystem pilot project on VVU campus towards a friendly-ecosystem agenda.

The 1.3 million-euro project, which includes building an underground rainwater storage facility, a Baobab Centre for Eco-studies Centre as well as planting 10,000 hectares of trees on the VVU campus, is under the Climate Change Initiative of the German government. Dr. Marius Haas, German Ambassador to Ghana, said the eco-development project, established on the VVU campus would provide the excellent example for other countries to adapt. He said the project was a sign of a "fruitful Ghanaian-German cooperation and a starting point for future climate-friendly Ghana-German partnership eco-project."

Ms. Akua Sena Dansua, Minister of Women and Children's Affairs, noted that climate variability affected women and children most. She explained that this was due to their traditional roles in subsistence agriculture, domestic water procurement and the utilization of firewood energy for domestic use. Ms. Dansua said there was the need to educate women and children on environmental issues in order to empower them to take care of the environment.

"Women are best custodians of the family, society and are bearers of humanity. They are the major stakeholders in the fight to improve our environment," she said and added that efforts taken towards salvaging the ecosystem would help support livelihood. Dr Seth Laryea, President of VVU, expressed the hope that the four-day international symposium would provide opportunities for participants to network and collaborate to tackle climate change issues and its negative effects on the environment.

"Our primary goal is to share what is working and what could work in our various environments so we can adopt the best practices in preserving our precious but fragile ecosystems," he told the participants. Participating countries include Ghana, Togo, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Austria, China, Benin, Kenya, Senegal and Germany. The theme for the symposium is "Harmonious Ecosystems for a Bright Future, Successful Pathways to Sustainability in Africa". Delegates were expected to emphasize efficient use of natural resources, highlights the human natural environment relationship and the link between socio-cultural and economic systems.

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