The Executive Director of the Ghana Climate Innovation Centre (GCIC), Ruka Sanusi, says her outfit believes in one resounding truth: that is, our world is facing one of its greatest-ever threats – which is a man-made disaster: and that is climate change.
Delivering her welcome address at GCIC’s annual symposium in Accra last week, Ruka noted that every country in the world, without exception, is experiencing the devastating effects of climate change.
“On average, 21.5 million people have been displaced by climate or weather-related events each year since 2008. Climate change directly impacts agricultural yields as it does the world’s food security; and according to the UNEP, by 2030 it is estimated that climate adaptation costs will range between US$140- US$300billion per year. If left unchecked, climate change will reverse the progress made over the past years in development – and undermine efforts to achieve the SDGs.
“Globally rising heat and wilder weather linked to climate change make it ‘the biggest global health threat of the 21st century’; climate change impacts – from heatwaves to worsening storms, floods and fires – threaten to overwhelm health systems.
“Storms and floods cause direct injuries, and can also shut-down hospitals and spur disease outbreaks. Wildfires hurt and uproot people, but also dramatically worsen air-pollution.”
The GCIC Executive Director went on to say that like many countries in Africa, Ghana is highly vulnerable to global climate change – ranking 144 out of 181 countries in the climate vulnerability index. Climate change, she indicated, is projected to affect Ghana’s water resources, energy supplies, crop production as well as food security.
“Already, the country is experiencing increased extreme weather conditions with higher incidences and more prolonged periods of flooding and droughts. More intense temperatures will further increases, and rainfall patterns will be less predictable. More intense rainfall is expected to increase erosion. The country’s vulnerability is largely due to dependence on the production of crops that are sensitive to climate change, including cassava and cocoa; and by a lack of agricultural diversification. The rapidly changing climate has dire implications for every aspect of human life.”
Manufacturing and consumer patterns – the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the homes we live in, and the products we use – all contribute to making our planet warmer. Our manufacturing processes involve the use of plastic, steel, and cement – all of which contribute to climate change. Making cement and steel requires energy from fossil fuels and involves chemical reactions that release carbons as by-products.
The refrigerator inside the AC units that cool our homes, our offices, is a greenhouse gas. Conventional agricultural production patterns and deforestation remove trees that pull CO2 out of the air; and when the trees are burned, they release carbon back into the atmosphere, she added.
She therefore emphasised that at GCIC their work is at the nexus of climate change, private enterprise, and sustainable development. “Our work is at the heart of business activity and a different premise of innovation. We proffer a different approach to commercial activity and a different premise in innovation.”
Ruka said circularity is an emerging business strategy that enables companies to innovate in ways that address resource scarcity and climate risk, in responce to consumer and societal pressure to reduce waste and unlock that US$4.5trillion economic opportunity. Implicit in that projection, she added, is the notion of changing unsustainable patterns of consumer consumption; and the potential to offer significant opportunities to boost economic growth, create jobs and boost innovation.
Founded in 2016, GCIC is a pioneering business incubator with a unique focus on SME ventures and entrepreneurs in the Green Economy. It is funded by a grant from the governments of Denmark and the Netherlands through the World Bank, and is managed by a consortium led by Ashesi University, including Ernst and Young, SNV Ghana and the United Nations University.