‘COVID-19 is a wake-up call’: Ghana to develop national plan for climate adaptation

The Government of Ghana has launched the process to develop a National Adaptation Plan (NAP) in efforts to build nationwide resilience to climate change impacts. The project is the first of its kind in Ghana to use future climate projections to plan over large timescales, up to the year 2080.

The NAP process seeks to reduce vulnerability to the negative impacts of climate change by strategically planning to build resilience, especially in developing countries. NAPs are widely viewed as one of the most important mechanisms for climate adaptation.

At the official launch event in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, on the 30 June, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, Minister for Environment, Science, Technology & Innovation, said:

“The National Adaptation Planning (NAP) process is one of the efforts by the Government of Ghana to address climate change impacts from a more integrated, coordinated and sustainable manner. It is imperative for the developing world to plan their development with climate change in mind.”

A key aspect of Ghana’s NAP process is to develop temperature and rainfall scenarios up to 60 years into the future. These climate projections, combined with climate-vulnerability assessments for different sectors, can then be used to plan and guide government decisions, whether it’s investment decisions, changes to regulatory and fiscal frameworks or public awareness, so that the country can take timely action to reduce exposure and sensitivity to climate risks.

In light of the COVID-19 crisis, Ghana’s government will aim to use this NAP process to ‘build back better’, ensuring that post-COVID-19 recovery investments and stimulus packages are ‘climate-proof’ – i.e., resilient to the extreme weather events projected in the coming decades.

Describing the COVID-19 global pandemic as “a wake-up call to us as Ghanaians on self-sufficiency”, Minister Frimpong-Boateng stressed that proper adaptation planning was a critical part of the solution.

During Ghana’s NAP process, the government will consider strategies to build resilience to the impacts from both climate change and COVID-19 in tandem. For instance, a major goal of the project is to strengthen institutional collaboration across many different ministries and sectors, because government responses to both climate change and COVID-19 demand cross-sectoral planning and coordination.

Similarly, climate change and COVID-19 have stark implications for food security. By focusing on strategies to strengthen and bolster Ghana’s agricultural sector, which provides livelihoods for around 65% of the population, the NAP process can serve as a vehicle to strategically plan for both extreme weather events and global pandemics, protecting agricultural livelihoods and economic growth from climate shocks.

Supported by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Ghana’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be executing the NAP project, which is funded by the Green Climate Fund to the tune of USD$2.97m.

The EPA’s Acting Executive Director, John Alexis Pwamang, said:

“Today marks the beginning of a 36-month journey of adaptation planning where the EPA will be working together with all of the partners and stakeholders for this launch to ensure that climate change adaptation becomes part and parcel of Ghana’s medium- and long-term development agenda. The consultative nature of the NAP process is a key ingredient for making sure that all actors are on board for better results.”

Speaking at the project launch event, the UN Resident Coordinator for Ghana, Charles Abani, said: “We must draw on science to inform policy in our efforts to adapt to climate change. Ghana is one of the leading countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that is putting in place a policy and institutional framework to implement climate action, targeting vulnerable communities that are disproportionately affected by shocks and stresses.”

Climate change in Ghana is expected to: render rainfall patterns increasingly unpredictable and erratic; increase mean temperature by 1.5 – 5.2°c by 2090; and increase sea level by 34.5cm by 2090. This is likely to have serious implications for the agricultural sector, which contributes 54% of Ghana’s GDP.


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