ECOWAS Speaker calls for holistic action against climate change

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From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja

The Speaker of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament, Sidie Mohamed Tunis, has said it is time to mobilise communities, nations and regions against climate change.

This was even as he called on members of parliaments across the world to come together to mobilise the necessary actions to combat the menace of climate.

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Tunis stated this in Bali, Indonesia, at the ongoing 144th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly.

The theme of the assembly is ‘Getting to Zero: Mobilizing Parliaments to Act on Climate Change.’

Tunis noted that the world is currently experiencing rapidly rising temperatures in the summer, the harshness of the winters and the droughts shrivelling up vegetation.

He added that climate change is an unavoidable change that is devastating the planet and a threat to the existence of life on earth.

According to Tunis, ‘the call for action was resonant all over the world and to some degree, successes were recorded in slowing down the degradation of our planet. However, it is now time to mobilise communities, nations and regions.’

Tunis further said members of parliament should place more emphasis on the environment through the various interventions they carry out in their countries and constituencies.

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He also said they should not only focus on areas like agriculture, education, health, and other infrastructural development issues, rather, there should be mainstreaming of climate change in all the national budgets.

‘Each sector of the economy should incorporate this phenomenon in its budget planning process. Furthermore, there should be national policies on climate change and members of parliament should be provided with adequate knowledge on adaptation and mitigation measures.

‘In the ECOWAS region, many countries are experiencing severe droughts, deforestation, desertification, flooding, coastal erosion, disease outbreaks, famine and food shortages because of climate change. To redress these challenges, the ECOWAS Commission, with the full participation of the ECOWAS Parliament, and other stakeholders have drawn up a strategic programme for reducing vulnerability to climate change in West Africa. The ECOWAS Commission expects members of parliament to be proactive and support the climate change programme through sensitisation campaigns on the use of renewable energy, alternative sources of charcoal and wood consumption across the region and the formulation of laws to mitigate the negative effect of climate change.

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‘It is worth mentioning that, because treaty negotiations are an executive action, members of parliament are generally not involved. Upon conclusion of such negotiations, it is imperative that members should be given an adequate briefing on the objectives, background, content and expected outcomes of such agreements. This would foster their understanding and possible buy-in into the agreements. It would also ease ratification by the various parliaments,’ Tunis said.

Tunis also said one of the Standing Committees at the ECOWAS Parliament is the Committee on Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources.

He stated that to promote synergy, the committee worked closely with the Department of Agriculture, and Environment of the ECOWAS Commission on all policy and programme implementation issues on the Environment and Climate Change.

‘I wish to recall some major accomplishments through the organisation of delocalised committee meetings on climate change. Some of the recommendations of these meetings such as ensuring that substantial budgetary allocations are made and climate change issues mainstreamed in national budgets of member states were adopted.

‘To conclude, I call on all members of parliaments across the world to come together to mobilise the necessary actions to combat this climate menace. We need to unite. Together, we are stronger and it is only when we are together that we shall succeed,’ Tunis stated.

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