GAROWE/HARGEISA/NAIROBI, 27 April 2008 (UNDP) - Unless the Horn of Africa country acts now to fight climate change and achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the country will face dire consequences, including stunted development. According to the 2007/2008 global Human Development Report, even though developing countries emit less greenhouse gases than their developed counterparts, they will bear the brunt of the problem due to their lack of capacity to respond to drastic, large-scale emergencies caused by climate change.
The report, launched simultaneously today in Hargeisa and Garowe, focuses on the global problems caused by climate change. The high carbon emissions of developed countries threaten to stamp out and then reverse advances in health, education and poverty reduction in sub-Saharan Africa – a region where MDG indicators are already dismally low.
"Although the country is making progress in some areas, it is little known to some that various coastal areas could eventually be at risk of submergence. In some years, the country could be at peace, with a booming economy; but even sooner than that, parts of it could be under water," said Bruno Lemarquis, UNDP Country Director, emphasizing that as a poor, water-stressed and low-lying country with a long coastline, the country is especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
The impact of climate change includes increased drought and flooding, rising sea levels, declining agro-pastoral productivity, and the spread of malaria and other diseases. Harsh conditions and unsustainable livelihood patterns have further exacerbated environmental degradation and increased the intensity of exploitation of environmental resources, with charcoal production a particular concern as it strips bare the country’s remaining forests and woodlands.
Lemarquis stressed that even though international and national aid agencies, local communities and other stakeholders are taking some action to work with flood-affected communities, the country needs to address longer-term development issues. Acceding to multi-lateral environmental agreements, including the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) would be a start.
"We all need to act now to ensure that future generations are educated and fed, and remain healthy," urged UNDP’s Senior Economist for the Country Office, Sriram Pande, 'efforts by the administrations, international community, private sector, media and local communities must be redoubled to ensure that vulnerability is reduced, livelihoods are maintained, and natural resources are sustained to provide some form of legacy for the next generation.
"More trees need to be planted to take in extra carbon dioxide; charcoal production must be managed and controlled; alternative sustainable energy sources need to be adopted; the country needs to accede to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and other environmental conventions in order to garner international support; women must be empowered; basic social facilities need to be provided to communities, who in turn need to use facilities already available; and above all, poverty must be reduced.
"Every man, every woman and every child in the country has some responsibility towards meeting these goals. As a country we can bank on and channel one of our most important resources to fight climate change and make progress in achieving the MDGs – our future – our youth."
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