16 December 2009
Agriculture, fisheries, forestry and tourism will all be affected
Small and vulnerable developing countries will see their trade sectors badly hit by the effects of climate change, a new study says.
The study, 'Trade, Climate Change and Sustainable Development: Key Issues for Small States, Least Developed Countries and Vulnerable Economies', was conducted by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD).
It notes that these countries are most vulnerable to the impact of climate change, and this will adversely affect their key trade sectors, including agriculture, fisheries, forestry and tourism.
Speaking at the launch of the study on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen on 11 December 2009, Janet Strachan, the head of the Commonwealth's Small States and Economic Management and Environment work, said that the Commonwealth has a long standing interest in the development of small states and developing countries, noting that for such countries, trade is their lifeline.
“These countries are amongst the most open and trade-dependent in the world. To speak about their trade sectors, is to speak about their economic well-being,” she said.
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Ms Strachan said that study was informed by the fact that the trade concerns of these countries in relation to climate change had not been clearly examined.
“We were aware that policy-makers in small and highly vulnerable countries needed solid background information to enable them to make informed choices, and that is what this study aims to do,” she said.
She added: “Small states and least developed countries are least responsible for climate change, yet they face the greatest vulnerability, not just in physical terms, but economically and socially. They are major impact takers, not impact makers, in climate change. This study shows that small states and least developed countries have a unique set of concerns that need to be addressed".
Ms Strachan said the study notes that small and vulnerable countries will need to build climate resilience in their trade sectors through diversification, provision of insurance for farmers and small and medium enterprises and use of modern and sustainable agricultural and fishing practices.
“These countries will also need to ensure that they effectively participate in international forums and work with consumer groups to build a supportive international environment that will give them flexibility in responding to their unique challenges. This is an area that the Commonwealth has been involved and will continue to make a contribution,” she said.
Gloria Carrion from ICTSD, speaking at the same event, said it was important for such countries to develop national trade policies that ensure resilience to enable them withstand shocks from climate change, build their supply capacity, and climate-proof key sectors. She set out some of the issues that small states and least developed countries should pay attention to in the international trade agenda, and ways in which funding streams agreed through the trade and climate processes could be used to support the implementation of national trade policies that support sustainable development and improve economic resilience to climate change.
Another speaker, Edward Allison, from the World Fish Centre, said that climate change is set to affect communities which depend on fish for food and livelihoods.
Drawing from a study on climate change and fisheries he recently prepared for the Commonwealth Secretariat, Mr Allison said that a decline in volumes of fish caught would affect both the food security and the incomes of low income household and those who depend on fish for their livelihoods.
Mr Allison said it was projected that due to climate change, fish stocks are set to dwindle, particularly in the tropics. With changes in water temperatures and ocean currents, fish may migrate away from countries' Exclusive Economic Zones into the open seas, and that this could affect the sale of fishing licences, which are a major source of income for some countries. Climate change will also further stress already over-exploited fish species.
He stressed that further efforts to support national action and international cooperation for sustainable fisheries would be vital in addressing the impacts of climate change on fish stocks.
Two experts, funded through the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation (CFTC), also took part in a series of discussions in Copenhagen that were organised by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
One of the experts, Mark Bynoe, spoke about his work with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, conducting a cost-benefit analysis into the ways in which governments can best adapt to threats to tourism, agricultural and agro-forestry, energy, health and infrastructure sectors. Andrew Dlugolecki spoke about insurance options for countries affected by climate change.
Thanks for the info. Important aspect.