Saturday, December 24, 2011

PM seeks support of Latin American for small developing states Read more:

PRIME Minister Andrew Holness has called on the Latin American States to give special attention to small developing states in fighting vulnerabilities such as socio-economic challenges.

Addressing the Latin American and Caribbean Summit on Integration and Development (CALC) in Caracas, Venezuela on the weekend, the prime minister said the socio-economic challenges that confront the small developing states include the impact of natural disasters and climate change; high prevalence of HIV/AIDS and non-communicable diseases; high levels of indebtedness and the categorization of some countries as upper middle income which affects access to concessional forms of loan financing and debt relief.

"The time has come to expand our horizons towards regional integration respecting the principles of solidarity, flexibility, pluralism, diversity and complementarity of actions, taking into account the importance of ensuring favourable treatment for the small vulnerable economies and island developing states. We must seek to do that now as a region... to foster our own solutions and to promote integrated regional development," the Jamaican prime minister said.

He said the CALC Summit was "another significant step to consolidate our own regional space and to construct the political, economic, social and cultural integration of Latin America and the Caribbean through the vehicle of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States".


Thursday, December 22, 2011

ECLAC Study Looks at Energy-Climate Change Interface for Central America Through 2100

December 2011: A recently-released sectoral study by the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) on energy and climate change in Central America looks at the probable impact of climate change on the evolution of its energy sector during two periods, the present through 2020, and 2021-2100.  The study concludes that the main cost of climate change on Central America's energy sector may be a decrease in hydropower production, the region's main indigenous energy source, due to the decline and increased variability of rainfall patterns.

The ECLAC study points out that assessing climate change impacts requires long time horizons, whereas most energy development scenarios for developing countries, including those of Central America, tend to look only 15 or 20 years into the future. This study looked at probable impacts based on Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scenarios and built long-term energy development scenarios for Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama that include inputs from ECLAC's Economics of Climate Change in Central America (ECCCA) project, which calculated the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that would result and evaluated several mitigation strategies.

The study estimates that over 2010-2100, regional average per-capita energy consumption will either double, triple or quintuple under the three economic scenarios used, with Belize, Costa Rica and Panama likely to have per capita consumption rates 2-3 times higher than those of the other four countries. The study suggests increased dependence on external energy supplies, particularly from 2040 onward. It predicts that consumption of traditional biomass for household use will fall drastically, while increasing urbanization will increase dependence on electricity and petroleum derivatives, principally in passenger and cargo land transport. While the study suggests substantial expansion of the region's 22,000 megawatts (MW) hydropower potential in the early decades of the 21st century, this trend likely will taper off in the second half of the century as a result of precipitation changes, particularly in the five nations in the northern portion of the isthmus.

The report makes several recommendations, including greater emphasis, strengthening and institutionalization of energy efficiency and renewable energy development programs, with periodic evaluations and adjustments, and greater focus on transport and climate change options, such as policies to decrease transport demand and favor transport modes that consume less energy and are less contaminating. [ECLAC abstract (Spanish)] [Publication: Estudio sectorial regional sobre energía y cambio climático en Centroamérica (Spanish)] More

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Climate Change Diplomacy and Small Island Developing States Climate Change Diplomacy and Small Island Developing States News Articles (3) Publications (69)

While multilateral environmental agreements like the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) recognize the enormous global challenges posed by climatic changes, these agreements often fall short on pragmatic financial and other mechanisms to assist the most vulnerable countries in addressing these challenges.

Contemporary climate change diplomacy mirrors this phenomenon, as science and global politics interact and converge to confront the vulnerabilities of small island developing States (SIDS) where sustainable livelihoods are threatened by climate change-induced food, water, health and other insecurities.

Science (climate scientists) and politics (diplomats and Foreign Ministry officials) may not always speak the same language, but climate change diplomacy (inter-governmental negotiations on climate change issues) inevitably brings them together into a “marriage of convenience”. In order to address the special needs of vulnerable countries like SIDS, there is consensus between science and politics that the principle of “common but differentiated responsibility” offers the best paradigm and institutional framework to understand and confront the asymmetries in the international system. 

Paradoxically, within this consensus lies deep-rooted disagreements as to the best ways to finance mitigation and adaptation programs in SIDS — including, among other issues, how to diffuse the emerging climate-friendly technologies as widely and as fairly as possible. To effectively address these issues, the peculiar developmental and technological challenges facing SIDS must be assessed in the context of the gaps, failures and limitations of present and past global environmental funding facilities such as the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. More

Sunday, December 4, 2011

AOSIS Rejects Delay Until 2020 – Demands Urgency for climate agreement

Durban, South Africa – The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) says it will not accept outcomes at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP17 that propose to delay any new binding agreement or more ambitious emissions reductions until 2020, as these cannot safeguard the livelihoods and guarantee the survival of our nations.

On the eve of the opening of the Durban Climate Conference, Ambassador Dessima Williams, Permanent Representative of Grenada to the United Nations and Chair of AOSIS cautioned that
if Durban puts off a legally binding agreement and closes the door on raising mitigation ambition before 2020 many of our small island states will be severely threatened.

AOSIS is calling on the Durban conference to deliver agreement on a second five-year commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, a process to rapidly ramp up mitigation ambition, and a mandate to quickly conclude a new parallel legal agreement in 2012 to cover those not bound by the Kyoto Protocol,” she said.

“ After a year of record emissions growth and the hottest temperatures on record, the push by the world’s biggest carbon polluters to delay flies in the face of the overwhelming evidence in support of immediate action and represents a betrayal of the people most vulnerable to climate change and the world.

“To fulfill our moral and ethical obligation to protect our people, AOSIS will here in Durban reject any outcome that cannot ultimately safeguard our livelihoods and guarantee the survival of our nations. Why would we ever agree to a deal that has as its ultimate and inevitable consequence our own demise? If Durban puts off a legally binding agreement and closes the door on raising mitigation ambition before 2020 many of our small island states will be literally and figuratively doomed. More

Climate deal pushed by poorest nations

The world’s poorest countries have asked that talks on a new climate deal covering all nations begin immediately.

At the UN climate summit, the Least Developed Countries bloc and small island states tabled papers saying the deal should be finalised within a year. Many of them are vulnerable to climate impacts such as drought or inundation.

The move puts the blocs on a collision course not only with many rich nations, but also with developing world partners such as China, India and Brazil. These three developing world giants believe talks on a new mandate should not begin now because developed nations have yet to fulfil existing commitments.

But their smaller peers believe there is no time to lose.

“We put forward our mandate for a new legal agreement today to get things moving quickly in an effort to respond to the urgency of our challenge,” said Selwin Hart, lead negotiator for Barbados, speaking for the Alliance of Small Island States (Aosis). More

Thursday, December 1, 2011

UNFCCC Publishes Technical Paper on Water and Climate Change

UNFCCC Publishes Technical Paper on Water and Climate Change

UNFCCC22 November 2011: The UNFCCC Secretariat has published a technical paper (FCCC/TP/2011/5) on water and climate change impacts and adaptation strategies. The 34th session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA 34) requested that the Secretariat prepare a technical paper on water and climate change impacts and adaptation strategies under the Nairobi work programme (NWP) before SBSTA 35.

This technical paper attempts to synthesize previous work on freshwater resources and climate change impacts and adaptation strategies and to identify ways forward. The paper aims to raise the level of understanding among parties with regard to the links between climate change and freshwater resources, in a manner that would ultimately support informed decisions on practical adaptation action and measures on water resources. It especially explores links between climate change and hydrology, including impacts of climate change on: ecosystems and biodiversity, agriculture and food security, urbanization, land use and forestry, water supply and sanitation, health, infrastructure, and energy security which, in addition to climate, are strongly influenced by human interventions and actions. The paper also discusses the challenge of identifying and implementing appropriate adaptation responses by considering new approaches to adaptation planning and decision making.

The paper draws several conclusions including: findings from global assessments of climate and hydrological change are not directly usable by decision makers at regional, national and subnational levels; and new guidance on developing appropriate climate scenarios is needed. This might include efforts to develop scenarios downscaled to the level of managing water resources, but might also focus on methods to develop narrative climate scenarios based on perceptions of key climate vulnerabilities; and as climate change adaptation is a complex multi-faceted challenge, better analytical tools are needed to integrate the various dimensions of the problem. [Publication: Water and Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Strategies]

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Atlantic Arc at heart of new macro-regional strategy

Maritime policy

Tuesday 22 November 2011 Like the Baltic, Mediterranean and Arctic regions, the Atlantic will soon also have its own specific macro-regional strategy

The strategy adopted by the European Commission, on 21 November, under the Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP) is expected to give the entire region a boost for growth and employment. The Commission's communication identifies problems and challenges, takes stock of measures and initiatives already implemented and provides for the development with stakeholders of an action plan to be implemented from 2013. The executive invites all stakeholders to propose projects for EU financial support.

The strategy will apply exclusively to coasts, territorial waters and waters under the jurisdiction of five EU member states (France, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom) and their overseas territories (Azores, Canaries, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Madeira, Martinique, Saint-Barthélemy and Saint-Martin), as well as international waters. It will not apply to the North Sea or the Arctic Ocean, since the latter is already covered by a separate strategy.

To make good on the strategy and action plan, the Commission proposes to create an "Atlantic forum" organised in the form of workshops and working groups focused on the challenges and opportunities offered by the region and identified in its communication, as well as an online discussion platform. The forum will be launched in 2012 and discontinued in 2013, once it has made its contribution to the action plan. As with the other macro-regional strategies, the Atlantic strategy will not have its own financial allocation or any additional funds: the initiatives and projects it will support will be financed by existing EU funds and in the forms and availability established by the next multiannual financial framework.

The Atlantic Ocean represents considerable development potential for regions and communities on its rim, whether for energy (wave energy, tidal energy, offshore wind energy), mining of sea beds, fisheries or offshore aquaculture. These activities need a boost to ensure their development: the strategy will help provide that boost by building transnational synergy (underpinned by a sea basin approach) and ensuring rational and effective use of available funds. Among the initiatives and measures to be supported, which will constitute the strategy's cornerstone, the Commission mentions better maritime spatial planning and sharing, better knowledge of the marine environment (development of research activities), the development of a marine observation and data network (EMODNET) and the organisation of genuine surveillance of maritime space. More

OHRLLS Event Addresses Community Land Ownership in SIDS


UN-OHRLLS10 November 2011: The UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and the Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS) has convened a special event on the global significance of biodiversity in small island developing States (SIDS) and the importance of community-based partnerships.  

Held at UN Headquarters in New York, US, on 10 November 2011, the event aimed to contribute both to the ongoing discussions in the UN General Assembly’s (UNGA) Second Committee on the sustainable development of SIDS, and to preparations for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20).

According to OHRLLS, SIDS’ biodiversity is among the most threatened in the world, due to their small size and isolation, the fragility or island ecosystems, and the pressures of deforestation, coral reef deterioration, habitat degradation and loss, and non-indigenous species. The tradition of communal land and marine resource ownership in many island countries requires community support for conservation efforts, making it all the more important to increase awareness of the significance of biodiversity.

The event was chaired by the High Representative for LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS, Chieck Sidi Diarra. It featured keynote presentations by Dr. Eleanor J. Sterling, Executive Director of the Centre for Biodiversity Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) and Dr. Christopher Filardi, Pacific Director at the Centre, remarks by the chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), Ambassador Dessima Williams of Grenada, and an exchange of views by participants. Participants discussed, inter alia: potential links between local and global processes, such as the UNCSD, and the need for global policies to influence national policies; the imminent destruction of coral reefs without serious attention to their protection; Pacific SIDS’ support for the concept of a “blue economy” in the lead-up to Rio+20; and the positive example of the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA) as a workable partnership. [Website of Event, including summary of statements and discussion]

Monday, November 21, 2011

Islands in an Expanding Sea

The following is the text of an address by Richard Heinberg to the Moana Nui Conference in Honolulu, November 12, 2011. Honolulu was concurrently hosting the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Conference; as a response to that secretive international trade meeting, the International Forum on Globalization and Pua Mohala Ka Po collaborated to organize Moana Nui.

Expansion of trade depends not just upon favorable trade rules, but financial and monetary integration between nations, as well as the availability of affordable transport fuels. I will argue that current APEC negotiations to increase trade within the Pacific region are a hollow exercise because the preconditions necessary for expanded commerce are disappearing. The peoples of this region therefore need to develop alternative economic plans and strategies.
1. The global economic context
The global economic context for the current APEC meetings is not being described publicly in plain, understandable terms by policy makers. That context consists of the slowing, ending, and reversal of the economic growth that was seen in most nations during the past few decades. This reversal of growth is happening due to the convergence of two factors: the deflation of history’s biggest credit bubble, and the depletion of the fuel that made the economic miracle of the 20th century possible. That fuel, of course, is oil.
The world’s petroleum is not about to run out, as the oil industry never tires of reminding us. However, we are indeed seeing flat-lining of production of the cheaply produced, easily accessible crude that has heretofore enabled continuing growth in world economic activity. World crude oil production has failed to increase significantly for the past seven years, while prices have doubled and tripled. The cost to the industry to develop new oil production capacity has soared from $20 per barrel just a few years ago to roughly $85 today. More

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Climate Vulnerable Forum

The Climate Vulnerable Forum is a global partnership of leaders of countries most vulnerable to climate change actively seeking a firm and urgent resolution to the growing climate crisis. The Climate Vulnerable Forum was founded by President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives and first met in November 2009. The Declaration of the Climate Vulnerable Forum adopted then expressed alarm at the rate of changes and danger witnessed around the planet due to the effects of human-induced global warming and called for urgent most international cooperation to tackle the challenge.

Climate Vulnerability Forum Declaration

“Alarmed at the pace of change to our Earth caused by human-induced climate change, including accelerating melting and loss of ice from Antarctica, Greenland, the Himalayas, Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya, acidification of the world’s oceans due to rising CO2 concentrations, increasingly intense tropical cyclones, more damaging and intense drought and floods, including Glacial Lakes Outburst Floods, in many regions and higher levels of sea-level rise than estimated just a few years ago, risks changing the face of the planet and threatening coastal cities, low lying areas, mountainous regions and vulnerable countries the world over…
“Climate change poses an existential threat to our nations, our cultures and to our way of life.”

Declaration of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (Male’, November 2009)

The Climate Vulnerable Forum convenes governments from Africa, Asia, the Americas, and the Pacific, committed to demonstrating leadership aimed at tackling what for some nations is becoming an existential challenge. At the Forum meeting on 19 September 2010 in New York, attendees endorsed DARA’s Climate Vulnerability Monitor. More

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pacific Nations Commit to Ensuring Food and Water Security in the Face of Climate Change

Pacific Island government leaders and ministers as well as their metropolitan counterparts attending the 7th Conference of the Pacific Community in New Caledonia this week recognised the importance of ensuring that food and water security can be maintained in the face of climate change now and in coming decades.
Heads of government, ministers and ambassadors from 22 Pacific Island countries and territories and Australia, France, New Zealand and the USA met over two days at the Noumea headquarters of the region's largest development agency, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC). The theme of the meeting was 'Climate Change and Food Security - Managing the Risks for Sustainable Development'.
Delegates welcomed the timeliness of the theme, which highlighted the range of projected impacts that climate change poses, particularly to food and water security in the Pacific Islands region.

The Conference emphasised the importance of a paradigm shift in thinking and planning for climate change, that is, not necessarily 'doing different business but rather doing business differently' to determine the level of acceptable risk at all points and prepare to respond effectively.

The Conference agreed that clearly no one organisation can address climate change related challenges in the Pacific region and that partnerships between development organisations such as SPC and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) were key. SPC and SPREP signed an agreement to collaborate closely on climate change issues at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) Leaders Meeting in Auckland in September. More

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Caribbean Risk Management Tools Featured at UNFCCC Workshop

October 2011: The Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) recently held a workshop to identify challenges and gaps in the implementation of risk management approaches to the adverse effects of climate change. The workshop included presentations on regional and national experiences on approaches to, and tools for, risk management, such as the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility.

The workshop, which was held from 10-12 October 2011 in Lima, Peru, was organized in response to the request by the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) for the Secretariat to organize the workshop, building on the lessons learned and practical experience of international, regional and national organizations and the private sector. Its aim was to provide an opportunity for representatives from Parties, relevant organizations, regional centres and networks, academia, civil society and the private sector to: share information on the current practices, approaches and institutional frameworks for managing climate-related risks at different levels, sectors and regions; and identify region-specific gaps and challenges. The workshop also aimed to enhance participants’ understanding of a possible range of options to address climate-related risks facing countries.

The workshop included a presentation by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) on the Caribbean Risk Management Guidelines for Climate Change Adaptation Decision Making, which were developed to assist risk management practitioners in Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries in the selection and implementation of feasible options for climate change adaptation.

Other presentations included: the intent and practice of integrating climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction (DRR) in the Caribbean region, by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA); Pacific regional and international frameworks for mainstreaming climate change adaptation and disaster risk management, by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP); and sovereign climate risk management in practice, by the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF). More

Thursday, November 3, 2011

EBRD Backs Marine Bio-Safety Initiative

An innovative programme to protect marine biodiversity, backed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, is about to enter a new phase. The project aims to tackle one of the greatest threats to the health of the world’s oceans – the global spread of invasive species and pathogens in the ballast tanks of international cargo vessels.

Ninety per cent of global trade still depends on goods carried by sea. The ships that transport them take   on significant amounts of ballast water to remain stable when their holds are empty. Discharging that water far from the port of origin can seriously damage the local marine ecosystem.

The Black Sea offers many examples: among them, the introduction of a jellyfish from North America which has depleted plankton stocks to the extent of causing the collapse of local fisheries.

Working with the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the EBRD's Shareholder Special Fund has made available €320,000 to fund training and awareness programmes and support the development of the technical and infrastructural capacity required to cope with the problem.

Introductory training sessions were successfully conducted in Russia and Ukraine earlier this year. The second phase, targeting private sector companies, will begin in December.

The project is also aimed at readying the shipping and port sectors to comply with a 2004 IMO convention on ballast water, widely expected to come into full force soon.

“There is, of course, a very good environmental reason why vessel operators, ports and other actors should tackle this problem,” said Craig Davies, a Senior Environmental Adviser in the EBRD’s Environment and Sustainability department.

“However, there is also an important business reason: it will soon become mandatory for the shipping industry to comply with the relevant convention on ships’ ballast water. Those who don’t will face serious operational constraints, as they may not be allowed to call at ports of countries that have ratified the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships Ballast Water and Sediments.” More

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

UNESCO Youth Forum Focuses on Green Societies and Sustainable Development

19 October 2011: The seventh UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Youth Forum provided a platform for youth to identify priority issues they think should be highlighted at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20). Youth delegates from all over the world voiced their opinions on UNESCO’s role in the promotion of "green societies" and sustainable development.

The session took place at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France, on 19 October 2011, and featured two panels: the first consisting of Young Professionals from the natural sciences sector; the second including mostly UNESCO partners. Participants highlighted a number of issues they considered priorities in the preparations for Rio+20, including: green jobs; desertification in Africa; climate change and water resources management in small island developing States (SIDS); disaster risk reduction (DRR) and mitigation; and science governance and science education. Some delegates also shared local experiences in the promotion of green societies in their countries.

The recommendations from the session will be presented to the 36th session of the UNESCO General Conference, in November 2011. More

Monday, October 31, 2011

Achieving sustainable development for small islands

Seychelles President James Michel has said that Commonwealth leaders have recognized the inherent vulnerabilities of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and their need for specific developmental mechanisms to address core challenges such as food security and climate change.

The President attended the Executive Retreat of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting this morning.
“As we approach Rio 2012, it is a simple truth that SIDS are more in debt, more vulnerable, and with less finance than in 1992. Sustainable development is still a dream. If we cannot sustain islands, if we cannot achieve sustainable development in these societies that are simply microcosms of our global society, then we may as well agree that sustainable development is not possible,” said President Michel following the meeting.

President Michel said that islands can be the true laboratories for sustainable development and urged other leaders to consider green economy and blue economy projects to be targeted in SIDS. He also emphasized the need for climate change mitigation to be a priority for future consideration. More

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Seychelles featured in prominent Business Beijing Magazine

The Seychelles Ambassador accredited to China, HE Mr. Philippe Le Gall, has been prominently featured in the latest issue of the highly popular and respected Business Beijing Magazine.

The four-page article shows a portrait of Ambassador Le Gall holding the island’s unique “coco de mer” nut. The article says that Ambassador Le Gall of the Seychelles brings a unique point of view to Sino-African relations. “Representing a small African country, but also a country active in the Small Island Developing States movement, Le Gall is also accredited to Japan, the Philippines, the Koreas, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Cambodia. Much of his effort is spent promoting tourism to the Seychelles, but the country’s political importance should not be underestimated,” said Charles J. Dukes in his feature article in Business Beijing Magazine.

Ambassador Philippe Le Gall is not shy to say in his interview, “This year we opened a tourism office in our embassy, and a Seychellois tourism attaché has been appointed.” The Business Beijing Magazine says that this shows clearly the commitment of the Seychelles Ambassador to China for the economy of his country. More