Helping West African countries achieve their climate goals

by MMC
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These pieces, written in their own words, are intended Patricia Lane and co-edited with interviewee input for brevity.

According to research and analysis by Faith Edem, 28, Canada is helping Ghana, Liberia, Gambia and Togo achieve their climate goals.

Tell us about this work.

As an economic advisor to Environment and Climate Change Canada, I was tasked with providing recommendations for the next phase of the Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) Program in West Africa to identify the West African countries that would benefit the most from Canadian financial assistance. The $20 million allocated will help these countries assess, plan and track progress toward reducing their current emissions to Paris Agreement levels. It will also enable them to increase their participation in global climate-related conversations, including trade and diplomacy.

In order to provide this guidance, I have developed metrics that I hope will prove useful in other similar applications in the world of international climate finance.

My objectives were to provide Canadians and citizens of recipient countries with assurance that the funds would be used to build sustainable emissions reduction capacity, sector by sector and country by country. My recommendations were based on analysis that found that recipient governments were competent and committed to developing and implementing the type of policies that would actually reduce emissions and also benefit their national priorities.

For example, the country may not yet have reliable data on emissions from its transport sector. These funds can be used to measure and develop effective reduction plans, which could help determine what types of transportation alternatives benefit from subsidies or other incentives.

Some of these countries have large areas of forest. With Canada’s help, they will be able to better assess their carbon sinks, improve domestic data collection and participate in international carbon markets.

With Canada’s support, these countries will be able to participate in South-South cooperation with each other. They will learn from the experiences of other countries, establish regional collaboration and exchange lessons learned when developing mitigation programs.

Faith Edem helps West African countries achieve their climate goals. #YouthClimateAction

How did you get this job?

Through my master’s program, I found the opportunity to work with Environment and Climate Change Canada to develop energy policy, which allowed me to work on this file for almost three years. When this opportunity to work in international climate finance presented itself, I took it. I have just moved to another role where I help develop climate and environmental trade policy.

Faith Edem, left, at the Future Climate Leaders Summit 2022 with Zalaah-Lem Adefris and Isabelle Leighton. Photo submitted by Faith Edem

What are the positive aspects of working in government?

Many young people think that since governments seem to be moving slowly, they should work elsewhere. But the truth is that we cannot tackle climate change or overlapping social justice crises on the scale necessary without government involvement and leadership. I use my passion for change to ask questions that convey both the urgency and depth of the problem. This project is an example of senior leaders supporting my work. My generation knows we have to push the boundaries. I hope more young people will come forward and help us achieve this.

How did you get into the field?

When I was little, I came to Canada from Nigeria with my family, and we still have close ties there. Over the last generation, the water has become too polluted for drinking or swimming, with reduced access to uncontaminated seafood. I read an article about young black environmental leaders receiving support to attend a United Nations conference on climate change. They felt happy to make a difference by emphasizing that due to the unjust impacts of climate change on people in the Global South, social justice must be integrated into all our goals. It is the work for climate justice that motivates me to want to work internationally to make a meaningful difference.

What makes your job difficult?

I am ambitious and in a hurry. I am concerned about the need and lack of climate justice. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But I have experienced what happens when decision-makers stop caring. Last year, my father returned from a trip to Nigeria with a nasty allergy, but after a few months back in Canada, his allergy lessened significantly and he started to get better. If we can prioritize well-being for ourselves and others, we can move forward even if we are grieving.

What would you like to say to other young people?

As a young black woman, I know that we often have to be twice as good to be seen as half as good. I’ve learned to take risks, to keep asking and pushing, and if it doesn’t work, well, it might next time. You never know how things will end. The important thing is to try.

What about older readers?

You may not realize how much your expertise, experience, influence and time matter. Young people might have great ideas that would become tangible with a little help from you and a few presentations. Offer help.

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