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Nov 28, 2007

UNDP annual report focuses on climate change

Story PicturePardon the pun, but there is no hotter topic in the world today than the issue of climate change, better known as global warming. This year, in the launching of its annual Human Development Report, the United Nations Development Program has chosen climate change as its theme. The relationship between development and a warming planet was made in the opening remarks by UNDP Representative Jessica Faieta and C.E.O. in the Ministry of National Development Hugh O’brien.

Jessica Faieta, UNDP Representative
“We can no longer speak of climate change in the future tense because it’s damaging effects are already with us and the vulnerability of developing nations such as Belize continues to increase. And the facts are compelling; the temperature of the planet has increased zero point seven degrees Celsius since the beginning of the industrial area. But the current acceleration rate is so high that the temperature of the planet could reach five degrees Celsius before the end of the twenty-first century.”

Hugh O’brien, C.E.O., Ministry of National Development
“It’s expected that climate change will have a significant impact on our agricultural sector, our food security and the consequent effects on employment and poverty. Hurricane Iris demonstrated this vividly in the South and Hurricane Dean demonstrated this in the North. Both hurricanes demonstrated not only the vulnerability of our agricultural sector but also the inter-dependence of the local economy on this important sector. Intensified hurricanes, changing rain fall patterns, including frequent floods and prolong drought as well as the negative effects that climate change can have on our reef and fishery stock will all affect our food production systems.”

But behind the official statements there still lurks a suspicion that jumping on the climate change bandwagon is more about fashion and fundraising than imminent peril. The UNDP’s Diane Wade Moore says that not only is global warming real, but Belizeans better get serious about what we must do.

Diane Wade Moore, Environmental Program Officer, UNDP
“You will always have sceptics as it relates to climate change as to whether we are blowing things out of proportion. Under our climate change project here in Belize we have conducted various vulnerability studies and the reality is Belize is extremely vulnerable to climate change simply because most of our economic activities depend so heavily on a very fragile natural resources base whether it is agriculture or tourism.”

Stewart Krohn
“Belize, as you have stared in your presentation, is responsible for virtually none of the change in the world’s climate and if the climate trend is going to be reversed it’s really up to the more industrialized countries. As Belizeans should we be joining an effort to get the developed countries to clean up their act, so to speak, and also try and exact transfer payments from the to help us adapt to the climate change? Where should we be putting out efforts?”

Diane Wade Moore
“Developed nations have an obligation to developing nations because in most cases these developing contribute very insignificant amounts to the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Countries like Belize should sit down and concentrate on adaptation and nationally the word going out should be that we need to consider adaptation in everything we do because it’s inevitable and so we need to start planning, thinking about climate change.”

The launching of the latest UNDP Human Development Report formed part of a National Symposium on Adapting to Climate Change. As for Belize’s ranking on the annual Human Development Index, we have jumped fifteen places to eightieth compared to ninety-fifth out of a hundred and seventy-seven countries last year. The improvement is largely due to statistical adjustments but it was noted that increases in Belize’s life expectancy to seventy-five point nine years and rise in per capita GDP to seven thousand, one hundred and nine dollars are significant strides in our national development.

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