Development programmes should address climate change, says Danish minister

September 28, 2006

Brussels, Sep 2006

Recognising that climate change is undermining efforts at sustainable development, Denmark's Minister for Development Cooperation, Ulla Tørnæs, has made the case for including climate change as a key part of development programmes. Denmark has already launched its own 'Climate and Development Action Programme', which aims to 'climate proof' its development projects.

'Although all countries are exposed to climate change, the poorest countries and the poorest people are the most vulnerable. In most developing countries, natural resources - land, water and forests - provide the backbone to livelihood. Caught in poverty the populations in many of these countries do not have the resources needed to tackle the challenges posed by climate change,' said Ms Tørnæs on 25 September.

Moreover, climate variability puts a major burden on development objectives such as poverty alleviation, food and water provision, infrastructure, energy and health.

The Danish Action Programme has been implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Risø Centre, and involves partners in Mozambique, Tanzania and Vietnam, where pilot studies have been completed.

In Mozambique, a scoping mission found a lack of coordination between the agencies involved in climate change research and activities, resulting in a lack of information within Mozambique about how climate change affects different parts of the country. The mission also found that very few studies included encompassed the economics or social science aspects of climate change.

In all three countries, the Danish researchers found a need to ease awareness raising and capacity building, involving a broad set of national actors and experts, and to strengthen collaboration between national and international experts. For climate forecasting, more detailed and more accurate national information on specific sub-regional impacts of climate change is also needed.

The results have been presented to government agencies, experts and other stakeholders in Mozambique, Tanzania and Vietnam, and each country showed a strong interest in further cooperation with Denmark to address the weaknesses found.

Ms Tørnæs concluded her presentation by emphasising that tackling climate change cannot wait. 'The problem does not belong to a distant future.. It is here now. And developing countries are in the front line. Without action, developing countries are the first to pay the price in terms of human suffering and economic costs. Therefore, it is in our interest to act now,' she said.

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