International Climate Change and National Development Conference Held in Accra

 A two-day international conference on climate change and national development was held on the 24th and 25th of June, 2015 at the Center for African Wetlands University of Ghana, Legon. The conference organized by the University of Ghana under the Building Capacity for Climate Change Challenge B4C project brought together researchers and policy makers across Africa to deliberate on Climate Change issues. During the conference presentations were made on the impact of climate change on food security, biodiversity, water resources and ecosystems, gender and health, energy with a special session the challenges in communicating climate change to the public.Speaking at the conference Ms. Sherry Ayittey, Minister for fisheries and Aquaculture Development said climate change matters to Ghana. She said Issues of poor and erratic rainfall, food shortage, coastal flooding and increased displacement of people that can be attributed to climate change is creating increasing the country's development challenges. said however, that under the national climate change policy, a number of programmes and strategies have been adopted to increase the country’s resilience to the effects of climate change. She said lower agriculture productivity from extended dry season in the northern parts of the country as seen many young and mobile people move down south in search of work.  She said however, that under the national climate change policy, a number of programmes and strategies have been adopted to increase the country’s resilience to the effects of climate change. She mentioned the push for sustainable fishery practices to offeset the fallng fish stoack as an example. She commended the organizers of the conference for their efforts and said that further action was still needed to create a common platform for researchers and policymakers to exchange ideas and take action. Prof. Yaa Ntiamoa-Baidu chairman of the Local organizing committee for the conference said that the goal of the conference was to bring to the fore various research findings on climate change in Africa. She said that under the B4C project the University of Ghana is positioning itself to be a forerunner in climate change research in Africa. She said the project was supporting a postgraduate Climate Change and Sustainable Development (CCSD) Scholarship programme that is building the capacity of researchers in Ghana through teaching, training, research enhancement and outreach and advocacy on the subject of climate change adaptation and mitigation. She said that the findings from research conducted under the project will be packaged to help inform policy makers. The special communication and media session highlighted some of the challenges for climate change scientists in communicating their findings through the media. The session was facilitated by Prof. Audrey Gadzekpo with seasoned journalists in climate change communication Mary-Ann Acolatse the news editor for Star FM and Ama Kundom-Agyemang a communication consultant and columnist for the Business and Financial Times as resource persons. The media session was also well attended by representatives from The Ghanaian Times, Daily Graphic, Daily Guide, Metro TV, GBC Radio, The Chronicle, Radio Universe and Oman FM. Ms. Acolatse a former climate change journalist said that one challenge she for the media was that they did not have specialized reporters desks. Reporters were assigned depending on availability and or proximity to an event and this often could lead to inaccurate reporting due to the technical nature of scientific matters. Mrs. Kundom-Agyemang said one of the major challenges for the media was deconstructing the writings of scientists who often wrote lengthy technical material that was difficult for people outside the field to comprehend let alone translate. She said that the media would have to build the necessary institutional skills in order to understand better and report more accurately on the work of scientists.In her closing remarks, Prof. Yaa Ntiamoa-Baidu said that climate change research needs to be communicated to public. She said there was the problem of scientists wanting to communicate their findings to the public and journalists not having the capacity to properly translate scientific papers into everyday language. She asked the media practitioners present to find ways to engaging researchers and said the University of Ghana under the B4C project would be happy to help build the capacity of journalists reporting on climate change issues.