Yesterday, March 2, 2009, the secretary of state for Forestry and the Environment, Momodou Kotu Cham, officially opened the 3-day ‘’Midterm Validation Workshop on the Study of the Reduction of the Vulnerability of West Africa to Climate Change.’
The event, which holds from 2-4 March 2009, is organised under the auspices of the Ecowas Commission and the government of The Gambia. It is taking place at the Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi.
Speaking to the gathering, SoS Cham pointed out that Africa lost out in the development of the Kyoto Protocol.
"The African negotiators had no idea about the issues involved," he stated. Thus, he emphasised, Africa profited the least from the provisions of the protocol.
Consequently, he said, "there is the need to put together a common platform" and to speak with one voice. Africans, he added, need to come together to address the issues in the Kyoto Protocol.
Africa, according to him, is the most vulnerable continent to climate change. He attributed this to various factors such as the fact that the continent has less diversified economies, endemic poverty, etc.
Delivering the opening remarks earlier, the executive director of the National Environmental Agency (NEA), Momodou B Sarr, said ‘it is truly befitting that this workshop on climate change is being held in The Gambia, one of the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change".
He then spoke of a new paradigm called "Carbon Justice".
"Countries contributing more than their fair share to global climate change from their manufacturing and transportation industries should contribute the lion share of the costs associated with adaptation to the effects of climate change," he explained.
Pa Ousman Jarju, the United Nations Framework Convention on climate Change (UNFCCC) focal person in The Gambia, said "scientific evidence that climate change is a serious and urgent issue is now compelling". Consequently, he said, there is need for urgent action to mitigate the risk of "very damaging and potentially irreversible impacts on ecosystems, societies and economies".
According to him, albeit contributing just about 3.8% of total greenhouse emissions, Africa will bear the brunt of the impact from climate change.
Considering the magnitude of the threat, he also called for a regional strategy to combat the menace.