Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Saving Least Developed Countries from Disastrous Effects of Climate Change

UN Chronicle Online: One of the most severe threats facing least developed countries (LDCs) and small island developing States (SIDS) today is climate change. With limited resources and high poverty being the norm in these countries, efficient and timely adaptation to climate change before it is too late may be difficult for them to achieve. Anwarul Karim Chowdhury, the outgoing UN High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (OHRLLS), noted that "the UN debate on climate change will lose credibility if the concerns of these countries are sidelined or marginalized"…

On 28 June 2007, Mr. Chowdhury launched and presented to the UN Secretary-General a new report published by his office, entitled The Impact of Climate Change on the Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States. The report's focus on the relationship between poverty eradication and adaptation to climate change makes it quite valuable, especially in light of the fact that both issues had been declared to be key UN priorities by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the beginning of his term….

… The OHRLLS report indicates that the situation is especially alarming because LDCs and SIDS have limited financial and technical resources necessary for adapting to climate change and combating its negative effects. "Though their cause needs urgent attention, somehow, because of their smallness [in size], structural difficulties and their own inadequacies, their voice does not get heard", Mr. Chowdhury said in a press conference on 28 June. He believed that efforts to assist these countries need to be stepped up in order to shield them from the dangerous consequences of under-preparation, complacency and inaction.

One of the report's main recommendations is to provide LDCs and SIDS with adequate financial and technical support at the global level to better deal with climate change, and to establish partnerships with international organizations to aid these countries. Such a multifaceted approach to the issue was advocated during the presentation by the Executive Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC), Patricia Francis, on LDCs and development at UN Headquarters in New York in June 2007…In her presentation, Ms. Francis highlighted the roles of ITC, the non-governmental and corporate sectors, as well as the South-South cooperation, in LDCs and SIDS in alleviating poverty and increasing adaptability to climate change by boosting economic growth and developing national resources and ownership of the process of sustainable development through international partnerships and working on the ground. The correlation between market integration, development, lower rates of poverty and increments in national resources were also addressed during the presentation.

The report further suggests that these countries demand that more be done to publicize the dangers they face and assist them at an official level, beginning with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) publishing a report specific to their situation. However, while considerable attention is being given to the impact of climate change on LDCs and SIDS, and on how to address this grave threat, much still needs to be done in order to construct the framework for addressing the issue with more immediacy. As Secretary-General Ban stated in his opinion piece published in the International Herald Tribune on 4 June, "… the time for action is now. The cost of not acting, most economists agree, will exceed the costs of acting early, probably by several orders of magnitude."

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