African Countries Urged To Renegotiate Debt For ‘Climate Swap’

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Economics Debt Renegotiation
Economics Debt Renegotiation

African countries must renegotiate debt owed international institutions and development partners to be redirected into adaptation and mitigation infrastructure to build climate resilience.

Under such arrangements, the creditor institutions would allow debt owed to them to be redirected by the indebted countries as an investment in climate-related infrastructure.

Professor Patrick Verkooijen, the Chief Executive Officer of the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA), made the suggestion in an interview with the Ghana News Agency at the sidelines of the launch of ‘Ghana’s Roadmap for Resilient Infrastructure.’

“If a country like Ghana owes for instance a development partner, they can re-negotiate so that instead of Ghana paying back the debt they can use the money to finance adaptation project like solar energy, water harvesting and storage, climate smart agriculture technologies and building of coastal defence,” he said.

The Ghana’s Roadmap for Resilient Infrastructure is the culmination of a 21-month partnership between the Government of Ghana, GCA, the University of Oxford, the United Nations Office for Project Services and the United Nations Environment Programme to identify and propose solutions to address priority adaptation needs in Ghana.

Using novel modelling and assessment tools, and through an extensive stakeholder consultation process, it provides an assessment of risk of climate hazard on national infrastructure systems.

It also develops a roadmap for addressing risks through targeted adaptation options in the built and natural environments, including nature-based solutions.

The roadmap also defines institutional interventions required to enhance the enabling environment that ensures the optimum effectiveness of adaptation measures in the country.

The report revealed that as a result of climate change, Ghana was expected to experience more acute climate hazards such as flooding, as well as more frequent and intense droughts.

The prenominal has the potential to threaten the socio-economic development that has helped strongly position Ghana as a middle-income country.

Climate-related extreme events have the potential to put years of progress toward growth and development targets at risk.

Professor Verkooijen said climate change impacts were corrosive to the development of African countries hence the need to be supported with funding to upscale adaptation measures.

“Adaptation is not only possible; it makes economic sense. GCA’s State and Trends on Adaptation 2021 report, finds that a dollar invested in weather and climate information services gives between four and 25 dollars in benefits,” he said.

“A dollar invested in resilient water and sanitation not only saves lives; it creates between two and 12 dollars in economic benefits. The cost of action to integrate resilience measures into agriculture and food systems in Sub-Saharan Africa may be $15bn annually.  The cost of inaction is $200bn annually,” he added.

Dr Kwaku Afriyie, the Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, said it was common to see roads, bridges, dams and school buildings wash away after a downpour.

He said the infrastructure, in most these affected sectors, were the bedrock of the country’s economic growth and development.

The Minister stated that in line with the Government’s Coordinated Programme of Economic and Social Development Policies, the Nationally Determined Contributions, Ghana’s National Adaptation Plans, the country was focused on building a more sustainable and resilient society.

Dr Afriyie said the implementation of the resilience roadmap would require additional financial resources from both Government and Development Partners.

Within Ghana’s energy sector, geospatial risk analysis revealed that the main climate risks to service delivery are exposure to drought and flooding that threatens major components of the generation and transmission system.

The top five exposed power plants provide electricity to 16.3 million people (Akosombo, Sunon-Asogli, Bui, Kpong, Cenpower), while the top five exposed substations are: Ga West, Hohoe, Ga South, Greater Accra, Sefwi Bibiani-Anhwiaso Bekwai that provide electricity transmission to 3.9 million people.

It said availability of the energy needs of most of the rural dwellers of the country will be threatened due to increased droughts, and over 240,000 people in the top five exposed districts namely Wa East, Banda, Sissala West, Lawra and Wa West.

Within the water sector, the priority climate risks include drought and flooding exposure that affects major water assets such as dams, the five most exposed of which have a total capacity of approximately 4.8 billion cubic metres (Akosombo, Bui, Tono, Vea, Weija).

In addition, parts of Ghana rely on the natural environment (rivers and other water resources) for water abstraction for household use, often in smaller, rural districts.

However, an increase in droughts will reduce river runoff, affecting up to 1.3 million people across the country, with large impacts on women and girls who are often responsible for water collection.

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