West African negotiators join forces ahead of Lima climate talks

African nations must join forces to strengthen their common position at the upcoming climate change talks in Lima and to address the growing threat of rising temperatures to their agriculture, West African negotiators agreed at a meeting in Mali. 

Climate change negotiators from West Africa gathered at a regional workshop titled “Preparation workshop for West African climate negotiators for COP 20 climate conference in Lima” in the capital city of Bamoko from 8th-10th October. 

The GCCA regional programme for Western Africa organised the meeting with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS).

GCCA works with ECOWAS to support regionally-based climate change initiatives. These initiatives include climate change mainstreaming, adaptation and participation in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which is under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). 

The GCCA also works with the CILSS, which is the ECOWAS technical branch and centre of excellence on matters relating to desertification and appropriate land use in the Sahel. GCCA provided funding to ECOWAS for these issues , worth €4 million between 2011-2015.

The workshop strengthened the position of West Africa’s negotiators ahead of the upcoming UNFCCC meeting in Lima from 1-12th December this year. The gathering is widely seen as part of a build-up to a final deal on climate change to be agreed in Paris in December 2015. The deal will apply to 195 nations.

West Africa already experiences the adverse effects of climate change.  Its agricultural sector, the main source of income for the 340 million-strong population (estimate from 2013) has already been hit by the sharp alternation of wet and dry years, and by extreme weather events. Climate change adaptation is a high priority for the region.

The Mali workshop encouraged participants to identify strategic alliances with other regions and group of countries in order to help achieve the desired outcome for Lima and for a final agreement.

On current trends, the planet could be as much as 4.8°C warmer by 2100 and sea levels could rise as much as 82 centimeters (32 inches), the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says.