Thinking global, living local: Voices in a globalized world

The Finance Minister of my Country is the Monsoon

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(Managing Adaptation to Climate Change in the Developing World was the title of one of the first sessions at GES 2011.)

The number of floods and droughts that are linked to climate change has been increasing in recent years. The developing world is definitely far more sensitive to the phenomenon than developed countries. One reason for this sensitivity is the relation between the fast-growing populations in these countries and issues like food security or water scarcity. This brings up the necessity to discuss not only mitigation – which is of course necessary in the long run – but also the adaptation to climate change that is important right now.

First, some points have been made clear:

  • In Africa, the problem is not with the lack of technology. The necessary technologies are available; what is needed is rather an integrated policy at the highest level of leadership, and the feeling of resposibility.
  • It is important to pay attention to the grassroots level: many poor people have already managed their adaptation to some effects of the climate change. Their experience has to be taken into account.
  • The market forces will not solve the problems on their own.
  • The insurance industry is directly affected by climate change, therefore climate insurance in the developing countries is an important issue. According to the Climate Risk Index made NGO, the top 10 countries in climate risk rating are developing ones. Therefore it will be crucial to international financial systems that we organize climate risk management…and a global solution is needed.

When talking about water resources, it turns out that the sector-specific approach does not function well any more. Moreover the willingness of leadership to feel responsible is crucial. This is especially true because water scarcity can be a risk for regional conflicts. For water management, it is important to optimize the resources efficiently, to reorganize the market in order to make the technology available to the poor as well.

As far as climate insurance is concerned, there is a big contradiction that has been made clear: while the developing countries are the ones who suffer the most from climate change effects, industrialized countries are the ones who caused this situation. Therefore, a transfer of responsibility is needed, preferably on a global scale, for example in a UN body. Prevention is definitely important; it can be encouraged by discounts and premiums for a country that “does its homework”. A regional microinsurance system is also of great importance.

When it comes to agriculture, diversification can be helpful, even if it is not more absolutely productive (in simple volume of calories) to grow more types of grains in smaller quantities. Climate-resistant crops are important, but the most crucial thing for food security is infrastructure.

The session focused on climate change adaptation, but could not avoid discussing mitigation, either. Among the questions the extension of the Kyoto protocol was mentioned, and the idea of introducing a carbon tax and reducing greenhouse gas emissions were the ones to close the session with.

The participants were:

Peter Höppe, Head of Geo Risks Research Department and Corporate Climate Center, Munich RE

Eric Stark Maskin, Nobel Laureate; Professor of Economics, Institute for Advanced Study

Sunita Narain, Director, Indian Centre for Science and Environment; Director, Society for Environmental Communications

Judi W. Wakhungu, Executive Director, African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS)

Anikó Mészáros Twitter: @dusmii

International Relations expert, in love with Central and Northern Europe, security studies and regional cooperation.