Climate Services for the Energy Sector – Towards Sustainable Energy Planning in the ECOWAS region

From the 9th to the 11th of July 2019, the ECREEE secretariat in Praia Cabo Verde hosted a consortium of climate researchers alongside stakeholders from the water and energy sector from the ECOWAS region to discuss and deliberate on the issues and challenges to enhancing climate services for improving the planning and efficient use of water and energy resources in the West African region.

Climate change is an undeniable challenge in the West African region. All the 15 ECOWAS countries are highly vulnerable to climate impacts and face considerable treat to their sustainable development. Both water and energy resources are at the fore front of this treat and are impacted by changes in quantity, availability and quality. The interlinkages between both resources, calls for joint effort in addressing the impacts of climate change.

As ECOWAS countries continue to take bold steps to transition away from fossil dependent energy systems to sustainable energy frameworks, they must understand the potential risks and impacts of the climate on their current and future energy systems. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the energy sector is considered a climate-sensitive sector.

Climate services simply, are climate information that aid decision making. It combines socio economic data with metrological data to provide useful information to decision makers to help society adapt to climate variability and change. Even though relatively new in this part of the world, climate services can help policy makers and energy developers understand how energy systems will fare in the face of changing global temperatures. While traditional energy sources can be severely impacted by extreme weather induced climate events, the output of renewable energy resources, in particular, solar wind and hydro are subject to climatic variability and changes. Thus, the need to take into account climate related information so that  resilience can be buillt cross the sector.

The 3 day meeting allowed for in-depth discussions and sharing of experience amongst researchers and stakeholders cutting across regional, national and community levels from the ECOWAS the region. Researchers exchanged on the state of the art of climate services highlighting experiences from Europe and noting the importance of science-based climate prediction and services especially in developing countries.

The meeting is as a result of collaboration between ECREEE and IRD (Institut de recherche pour le développement) leading to the building of a research proposal on Climate Services for Water and Energy in West Africa to be submitted to European Union(EU).