Many of West Africa’s 340 million residents are facing serious risks due to a rapidly changing climate. A series of interconnected direct and indirect drivers of resource degradation—illegal and unsustainable logging, wildlife poaching and trafficking, poverty, population growth, and weak governance—threaten the sustainability of key transboundary resources; undermine the ability of the region’s human and natural systems to respond and adapt to anthropogenic shocks and stressors; and in turn, compromise sustained and broad-based economic growth. To address these challenges, Tetra Tech is supporting the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) by implementing the West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change (WA-BiCC) program.

Tetra Tech’s approach is based on the premise that systematic change to improve conservation and foster climate-resilient, low emissions growth in West Africa requires a critical mass of diverse actors working together across geographic scales to achieve common goals. WA-BiCC’s three main development challenges are combating wildlife trafficking, improving coastal resilience in West Africa, and reducing deforestation, degradation, and biodiversity loss in key forests. To effectively address these challenges, Tetra Tech is using an integrated approach that cuts across all three program components.

To effectively address direct transboundary threats, natural resources, and biodiversity, Tetra Tech is brokering partnerships between governmental institutions, non-governmental organizations, and communities and the private sector. These partnerships aim to identify conservation incentives and investment opportunities; improve social and environmental responsibility; and take new technologies, tools, and best practices to scale.

Our team is working to strengthen the capacity of key regional and national institutions to pursue best practices and policies to address emerging environmental challenges and enhance their ability to collaboratively design, manage, and enforce transboundary resource governance. Gender and social inclusion are incorporated in all thematic areas of Tetra Tech’s capacity-building approach, as well as building the technical capacity of governmental actors to synthesize lessons learned.

Working with and through regional and national institutions, Tetra Tech is enhancing knowledge management platforms. By strengthening the tools and evidence base that enables West African policymakers and practitioners, Tetra Tech is enabling the WA-BiCC team to combat corruption and make informed, science-based decisions that reduce wildlife trafficking and poaching, enhance coastal resilience, and reduce deforestation.

Across all three program components, Tetra Tech is improving the understanding of the economic value and contributions of ecosystem goods and services from wildlife, coastal resources, and upland forests to local, national, and regional economies. Our team is educating audiences on a local-level by developing and executing regional media campaigns that focus on anti-trafficking and conservation solutions. These campaigns are led by local organizations and include radio dramas, radio call-in shows, and pop music campaigns.

WA-BiCC has facilitated the training of 36 judges and prosecutors and 12 law students to better enforce and prosecute wildlife crime. In addition, WA-BiCC has supported the Abidjan Convention Secretariat to develop two management protocols for coastal areas and organize two expert meetings on invasive coastal species, bringing together regional partners to implement best practices. In Sierra Leone, the WA-BiCC implementing partner, Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), has conducted in-depth vulnerability and coastal assessments for the Greater Freetown Landscape.

WA-BiCC also has completed preparatory field scoping and design missions in the five WA-BiCC learning landscapes, three of which are transboundary in nature. They also held stakeholder consultations to assess the policy needs of selected Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member states. Tetra Tech’s efforts have allowed ECOWAS member states to understand and implement best-practice adaptation measures by integrating and demonstrating concrete activities that build climate resilient coastal systems, and as a result benefit the people who depend on those systems for their livelihoods.