Climate change talks in Doha: What’s at stake for poor countries? | Helen Clark

03 Dec 2012

 Climate change adaptation in India. Photo: UNDP in India

As thousands meet in Doha this week for the latest round of climate talks, it’s crucial to zero in on what a lack of progress could mean for the world’s least developed countries.

Poor people in developing countries face the greatest risk from climate change. It exacerbates existing vulnerabilities and as for example in Africa, it’s the poor that are bearing the brunt of climate change through drought, flood, hunger, and more.

If we don’t make progress towards a new global agreement on climate we risk undermining gains in the developing world, threatening their lives, their livelihoods, and their countries' prospects.

We don't need to wait for a global climate agreement or the post-2015 development agenda to be negotiated by United Nations member states. There is plenty which can be done below that level by sub-national governments, communities, civil society, and the private sector. Indeed, that is where much of the energy was to be found at Rio+20!

What’s encouraging is that more and more developing countries are already working hard on adaption to climate change and mitigation. For instance Ethiopia, a large least developed country, has adopted a low carbon, climate resilient, green economy strategy.

The issue now is how to refresh the global development agenda beyond 2015 so that it tackles emerging issues and ensures the links between tackling poverty and environmental degradation are made.

Key to successfully tackling climate change is that countries keep the promises they make. Breaking promises always leads to cynicism and distrust - not a good basis from which to make progress on something as vital to the future of people on our planet.

Talk to us: How can we better protect the poorest countries from the effects of climate change ?

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