Source: All India Disaster Mitigation Institute (AIDMI) - India AIDMI
Website: http://www.southasiadisasters.net Reuters and AlertNet are not responsible for the content of this article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author's alone.
The "Right to Climate and Green Growth" campaign was launched by 43 leading civil society organisations and media from India, Pakistan, Maldives, Malaysia, Singapore and Bangladesh at Chennai in India in April. The campaign aims to raise these issues at key ministerial and governmental meetings in Asia and Africa over the next four years with the support of civil society groups.
The First Asian Commonwealth Conference on Climate and Disaster Risks, organised by the All India Disaster Mitigation Institute (AIDMI) and the UK-based Commonwealth Foundation, also agreed to launch the Pan Commonwealth Civil Society and Media Network to run the campaign. Media will report on key issues being debated at global level to local civil society groups and relay their concerns to international decision makers. Local groups with global interest and outreach have joined the initiative.
"Asia must shape and not just support the global agenda. This is not possible without citizen's action supported by media and civil society," said Amar Jyoti Nayak of ActionAid.
The various climate change-related national plans, initiatives, committees and funds in Asia need greater civil society and media contributions, cooperation and even contestations, because they have often had little say in the matter, participants argued at the three-day conference inaugurated by Dr. Maxine Olson, UN Resident Coordinator for South Asia.
"How little is known about the overlap between climate risk and disaster risk," said Mihir Bhatt of AIDMI. "To the poor and vulnerable a flood is a flood," he added. "For citizens, climate or disaster risk is a local issue. By making it a global issue, citizen action is undermined."
Dr. Arul Aram from the department of media studies at Anna University in Chennai, also stressed the need to provide global media with access to local news. So far, global policy has limited local inputs across Asia. Global trends alone dominate decisions.
Dr. Fariyal Gowhar, a civil society leader, novelist and a TV journalist from Pakistan, called for a regional convention of coastal communities, arguing, "they hardly have had a say in the national or regional climate change adaptation discussions so far". This is strange considering that they will be among the first to be affected by sea level rise.
Wilson Ang, CEO of Eco Singapore, stressed the need to engage education ministries in teaching about green growth (economic opportunities that regenerate ecology) in textbooks and classrooms in Asia. Education in Asia is still based around an industrial growth model.
Ajith Tennakoon from Sevalanka, Colombo, called for efforts to double green growth opportunities for the poor every two years across Asia. The poor need work and adapting to climate change could provide opportunities - for example, building embankments and making houses more energy efficient.
Out of every dollar spent on climate change adaptation, at least 70 cents should go directly to at-risk populations via green-growth livelihoods, said Gandimathi of SNEHA, a 9,000-strong fisherwomen's organization in Tamil Nadu, India, and Hina Mir from Pakistan's Sungi Foundation.
Adaptation measures are not yet being discussed in urban and rural planning processes, pointed out Abdulla Jameel of Haveeru Daily from the Maldives. "Adaptation is not a separate sector but a safer way of developing," said Rafiqual Alam of the Bangladesh NGO Network for Communications.
For more information, contact: All India Disaster Mitigation Institute, E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org, Website:www.southasiadisasters.net
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