West African experts and officials Wednesday adopted a common position on the effects of climate change and human rights ahead of the global UN conference in Copenhagen.
Participants at a two-meeting in Lome came up with a declaration on the challenges related to climate change in west Africa, approved by ministers responsible for environment and human rights in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a statement said."It is only through political will, resolute action in our different countries, a determined commitment at the regional level... that we can succeed," Daniel Eklou, ECOWAS director for humanitarian and social affairs, said.
Africa must "continue to search and exploit all opportunities to make its voice heard," he said.
Some 80 experts from national human rights commissions of the 15-nation ECOWAS and senior government officials responsible for environment and climate took part in the conference in the Togolese capital.
Organised by ECOWAS, the United Nations and the government of Togo, the conference was the first in the region to examine the link between climate change and human rights.
ECOWAS recommended "drafting a new legal instrument aimed at protecting people displaced by the effects of climate change and who are now outside their country of origin," the statement said.
It also called for the "establishment of a special fund on the impact of climate change on the affected populations".
The west African countries recommended the "promotion of the use of an approach based on human rights to face the challenges of climate change in the sub-region".
They also called for the inclusion of their concerns in the formulation of a common African position during the Copenhagen talks, the statement said.
The December 7-18 talks in Copenhagen, under the 192-nation UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), aim to craft a post-2012 pact for curbing the heat-trapping gases that cause global warming.
The joint position of the west African nations would be discussed by the African Union in Addis Ababa from October 19 to 22.