World Environment Day: Small Island Developing States combat climate change
Accordingly, “Raise your voice, not the sea level,” was the United Nations’ chant on the World Environment Day. (Image: Updates Nation)
On the occasion of the World Environment Day on June 5, 2014, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) chose as its theme the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and their particular vulnerability to the effects of climate change.
Accordingly, the UNDP renewed its call for a concerted approach to environmental protection, which takes into consideration the deep connection between protecting the environment and human development.
The latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) notes that global economic growth can be pulled down by 0.06% annually with the cost of “ambitious” climate change mitigation. However, it is essential to recognize the benefits of reduced climate change, and act accordingly.
“Environmental protection is sometimes seen as an obstacle to economic growth. But economic growth that strips out the planet’s ecosystems is not sustainable. Advancing human development and protecting the planet’s ecosystems must be approached as two sides of the same coin,” said Magdy Martínez-Solimán, Deputy Assistant Administrator of UNDP’s Bureau for Development Policy.
Consequently, the UNDP is working with countries to set up climate change risk management systems, including adaptation and mitigation measures that contribute to their development agenda.
For example, during 2013 there were over 300 UNDP interventions in SIDS at various stages of project cycles. An additional 700+ projects in SIDS were supported by the GEF Small Grants Programme and implemented by UNDP.
The total value of this sizable portfolio includes over $ 621 million in grants from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), Least Developed Country Fund (LDCF), Adaptation Fund (AF), UNDP, and numerous other bilateral and multilateral donors. Those grants are complemented by more than $1.4 billion in co-finance from governments and other partners.
Climate change, including rising sea levels and increased intensity of extreme weather events, is spurred on by the negative impact of humans on the environment.
Accordingly, “Raise your voice, not the sea level,” was the UN’s chant on the World Environment Day.
The UNDP supports a wide range of projects in these vulnerable nations that seek to achieve the “triple win” of sustainable growth, poverty alleviation and environmental protection.
Barbados, a small Caribbean island, serves as an excellent representative of countries that are looking forward to fight against climate change.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted that small island nations share a common understanding that our planet need to be set on a sustainable path to development.
“This year, I urge everyone to think about the plight of Small Island Developing States and to take inspiration from their efforts to address climate change, strengthen resilience and work for a sustainable future,” the UN chief said.
Home to 62.3 million people, these island nations play a crucial role in protecting oceans while contributing little to climate change – emitting less than 1% of global greenhouse gases.
But they suffer disproportionately from the effects of climate change owing to their small size, remote locations, and limited economic resilience. Research shows that by 2100, global warming could lead to a sea-level rise of up to 2 meters, making many of these island States, especially in the Pacific region, uninhabitable.
Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), warned that the very existence of low-lying nations, such as Kiribati, Maldives, Marshall Islands and Tuvalu, is threatened by climate change-induced sea level rise.
The main issue to adapting to climate change in island nations is the lack of financial resources: for instance in the Caribbean community countries, the capital cost of sea-level rise is estimated to reach a towering $187 billion by 2080.
UN General Assembly President John Ashe appealed for a global call to action for people across the world to support SIDS and low-lying coastal states endangered by rising sea levels, and excessively impacted by climate change, the loss of biodiversity and forests, and overfishing.