High Level Meeting on Climate Resilience

This is Maldives. One of the 48 Island Countries that are prone to climate-induced disasters. They are small and fragile. Inhabited with 345,023 people. Adapted from Google Map.

Maldives: One of the Small Island States that are vulnerable to climate-induced disasters. They are small and fragile. Inhabited with 345,023 people (World Bank, 2013). Image Adapted from Google Map (2016)

It was yesterday’s High Level Meeting on Climate Resilience that sparked my interest of wanting to understand climate change impacts on small islands, least developed countries (LDCs) and African Countries and the importance of Paris Agreement to these countries.

“We are learning from our failures. Most of our initiatives come from our hard lessons. Politically and physically. More towards physical i.e. climate induced disasters.” says, Ban Ki Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations.

According to IPCC and other scientific studies, climate change impacts are growing and heavily affecting small islands and least developed countries. For instance the islanders are suffering from sea level rise, salt-water encroachment onto their fertile soil, ocean acidification, depletion of marine food source, coral reefs’ destruction and many more.

On the other hand, least developed countries such as African continent are experiencing huge challenges in the area of water, agriculture, health, coastal and preservation of biodiversity due to the impacts of climate change.

“As a Pacific Island nation, we are forced to adapt to climate change not by choice but necessity. For us, capacity building is our priority challenge. Talk about being climate resilience. What does climate resilience mean to the small island? Resilience means to build better livable island. How are we going to adapt to this while we are eroding. What we are facing already since 2011 to 2015 is the warmest period on the record. This year is the hottest weather ever.”says, Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa.

He further explained his concern over the sea-level rise. According to third conference of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Samoa, it is reported there is an estimation of sea-level rise up to four times the global average and this continues to be the most pressing threat to their environment and socio-economic development with annual losses at the trillions of dollars due to increased vulnerability.

In the meeting, Samoa and other island nations agreed to support Paris agreement if they recognize the vulnerability of the islands and warrant protection.

For small islands and LDCs, Paris agreement is essential as these are vulnerable countries with minimal resources compared to most of us living on the land that are thousand times larger. Aiming for ‘1.5 degree Celsius’ is crucial for them to ensure survivability of their people. Tuvalu countrymen put high hope on Paris agreement. If there is no global action today (in reference to Paris Agreement), 75% of its people would want to leave Tuvalu. (There are only 9,876 people inhabiting in Tuvalu! source: World Bank, 2013).

Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt’s president defends Africa’s interest on climate change. The cost of putting Africa to low carbon growth is no less than $USD 12 billion dollars a year until 2020. African continent lacks the means and resources that will boost their economic development. Hence, Africa emphasized the urgency of adaptation with due consideration of huge challenges in this regard where, adaptation is part of global responsibility.

During this high level meeting, Netherlands agreed to contribute directly of Euro 50 million to climate resilience projects for small island states and LDCs whereas German has contributed Euro 1 billion worldwide on climate resilience projects.

Written by: Jolene Journe T.

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