Focus on climate and environmental protection during Federal Councillor Sommaruga’s visit to West Africa

Bern, 09.07.2021 - Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga paid a visit to Senegal and Ghana between 5 and 9 July. In Dakar, Ms Sommaruga signed the climate agreement between Switzerland and Senegal adopted by the Federal Council on 23 June. In Ghana, together with the responsible ministers, she agreed steps to accelerate implementation of the climate agreement signed with this country a few months earlier.

The talks and visits in both countries focused on climate and environmental protection. In Ghana, there was a special focus on the issue of electronic waste. It is a problem for the environment and people's health: Every year, around 50 million tonnes of electronic waste are generated worldwide. Some of that waste ends up in developing countries like Ghana, where it is often disposed of improperly, endangering the health of the population and posing major environmental risks.

In a joint letter to the member states of the Basel Convention - which regulates exports of e-waste - Federal Councillor Sommaruga and her Ghanaian counterpart called for the scope of the Convention to be expanded. The aim is that in future not only should the export of particularly hazardous e-waste be regulated, but all e-waste. This would help developing countries to prevent unwanted imports and help to protect human health and the environment.

Ms Sommaruga launched SECO's country programme in Accra. Ghana is a SECO priority country for economic development cooperation. Although Ghana is a positive example in Africa in terms of democracy, the rule of law and stability and is developing relatively successfully, the country still faces a number of challenges. SECO is therefore promoting attractive economic framework conditions that enable sustainable growth and is supporting efforts to create more and better jobs. A total of CHF 65 million has been earmarked for SECO's economic development cooperation programme with Ghana for the period from 2021 to 2024.

Topics in Senegal: Technology and innovation in climate protection

Federal Councillor Sommaruga's visit to Senegal focused on the role of technology and innovation in climate protection. The joint climate agreement between Switzerland and Senegal was signed at a ceremony in Dakar. The Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development, Abdou Karim Sall, and Federal Councillor Sommaruga reaffirmed the urgent need to reduce CO2 emissions. They also stated the importance of continuing discussions on the use of new CATM technologies. These technologies have the potential to offset the warming effect of greenhouse gases and there is growing recognition of the need for such tools. However, there is a danger that too much potential is attributed to them and that consequently urgently needed measures to reduce emissions are postponed or even neglected.

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