New York, 14 September 2007 (UN Headquarters) – Cheikh Sidi Diarra, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS) says there is an urgent need for the LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS to adequately prepare for all upcoming international events on climate change so that their views and positions find appropriate reflection in the outcome of those meetings.
Speaking when he opened a special meeting on climate change issues of concern to SIDS, LDCs and LLDCs organized jointly by UN-OHRLLS and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) at UN Headquarters in New York today, Mr. Diarra pointed out that the event was of particular significance in view of the heightened discussions within the United Nations on climate change. In ten days time, on 24 September 2007, the High-level meeting of the General Assembly on Climate Change would take place, he said. This would be followed by the UN Climate Change Conference 2007 in Bali, Indonesia, from 3 to 14 December, the UN’s envoy for the world’s poorest countries stated.
He noted that although the least developed countries and other vulnerable groups were the countries least responsible for global warming, they were the hardest hit by climate change; especially small island States and those in Africa. Impacts of climate change in Africa included increased water stress, reduced agricultural production, disrupted food supplies and increased malnutrition.
In particular, the issue relating to sea-level rise was of greatest importance to SIDS, the impact of which was already being felt in the small islands, said Mr. Diarra, explaining that the Mauritius Strategy addressed those issues, but its recommendations needed further effective implementation. While mitigation measures are pursued, his office was urging SIDS to formulate and implement suitable adaptation measures considerably, he added.
Mr. Diarra thanked the Geneva-based WMO and its Secretary-General Michel Jarraud for joining hands with UN-OHRLLS to organize today’s event attended by some sixty participants representing the most vulnerable groups of countries. Describing the WMO as a “central actor in this process”, the UN envoy also reminded the meeting that it was through the initiative of WMO and UNEP that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established to “assess scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant for the understanding of climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.”
In his PowerPoint presentation to the meeting, Mr. Jarraud highlighted his organization’s perspective on the climate change issues of concern to SIDS, LDCs and LLDCs, stressing that those groups of countries were the most vulnerable to climate change because proportionally, a large share of their economy was in climate sensitive sectors. Additionally, they also had a lower capacity to adapt due to their lack of financial resources, among other reasons.
Progress in mitigating the effects of climate change in those groups of countries, Mr. Jarraud concluded, would only be achieved through partnership among countries,; among groups of countries; among UN system partners, the World Bank and equally importantly, with the world’s media.
The LDCs group Chairperson Jean-Marie Ehouzou and told the meeting that the phenomenon of climate change or global warning was a reality that had poor countries’ entire economies and people’s livelihoods on the brink of collapse. Speaking at the same meeting, Chairperson of Association of Small Island States Angus Friday declared that the issue of climate change was a sclerosis that the world’s poorest and vulnerable countries needed to get beyond and to that end thanked the WMO for being at the forefront of moving the international community forward on the issue. He said for a long time SIDS had essentially been the “canary in the coal mine” when it came to climate change and the problem had been worsened by decreased public funding of efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change in the SIDS.
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