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Toward Ecosystem-Based Adaptation To Climate Change In West Africa: The Potential Contributions Of Non-governmental Organizations

K. Akamani
Published 2016 · Geography

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There is a growing consensus that climate change is occurring and that anthropogenic factors are contributing significantly to it. While past policies emphasized climate change mitigation, the anticipated impacts of climate change such as floods and drought call for a significant boost in adaptation policies in order to ensure sustainable development. However, conventional top-down, sectoral approaches to climate change adaptation also have potential adverse social and ecological consequences that threaten long term sustainability goals. Managing the impacts of climate change requires the coordination of efforts across multiple scales and sectors. This realization has led to the turn toward ecosystem-based adaptation which adopts a multi-sectoral approach to sustaining healthy ecosystems as a means of reducing vulnerability and enhancing the resilience of social and ecological systems to climate change impacts and other drivers of change. Although the concept of ecosystem-based adaptation appears promising, the transition from conventional climate change adaptation policies toward ecosystem-based adaptation in West Africa has been slow. This chapter examines the key features of the ecosystem-based adaptation approach, as well as its potential to enhance climate change resilience in the West African context. The chapter also discusses the potential roles of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in enhancing awareness, generating interest, creating opportunities, and building capacities for enhancing the transition toward ecosystem-based adaptation. In view of the strengths and weaknesses of NGOs, the chapter concludes that the successful transition toward ecosystem-based adaptation requires adaptive governance mechanisms for connecting state representatives, as well as communities and the private sector across multiple levels in an on-going process of learning and adapting to change.
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