Asia Pacific Region in Peril of Climate Change

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The Asia Pacific region is in peril of global warming and climate change and the western (and industrialized) countries should (must) bailout the developing countries to cope up with the devastation of sea level rise, flood & drought and salination of surface water in those populous countries. Those were some highlights discussed and resolved unanimously in an international environmental journalists’ conference in Bangladesh.

The high voltage debates and discourses were part of the 18th Congress of Asia Pacific Forum of Environmental Journalists (APFEJ) and the 5th meeting of World Water Forum of Journalists (WWFJ) held in Dhaka during the first week of September.

Supported by the Bangladesh Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) the theme of the house was ‘Reaching Copenhagen Climate Summit and Beyond: Role of Media’, which was organized in collaboration with the Forum of Environmental Journalists of Bangladesh (FEJB) at the National Press Club, Dhaka during September 1 to 3.

apfej
APFEJ

Inaugurating the Congress, the environment secretary of Bangladesh Government, Dr Mihir Kanti Majumder argued that many Asian countries like Bangladesh, Burma, Maldives, Fiji, India etc are really vulnerable for the effects of climate change. He said the mitigation process to reduce greenhouse gas emissions must be adopted globally.

“Today the climate change emerges as a challenge to the mankind, where the adaptation practice alone will not work anymore. Mitigation should be accepted as the pragmatic solution to the problem,” Majumder insisted.

Addressing the inaugural session, Festus Luboyera, the program officer of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change admitted that Asia was in peril from the affects of climate change and hence the climate summit in Denmark during December is expected to pave the way for the successful resolution with an aim to create a low carbon society.

“Copenhagen would be the culmination of a negotiation process that was launched in 2007 in Bali -the year the scientific community sounded the alarm bells and declared that climate change is unequivocal- will have serious impacts and can be tackled at reasonable cost,” Luboyera explained.

He however insisted that Copenhagen has to deliver absolute clarity in terms of what individual industrialized countries will do to reduce their emissions by 2020.

“It has to be absolutely clear what major developing countries will do to limit the growth of their emissions, because without that indication from major developing countries we will not get the ratification in many industrialized countries, not least the US,” the UNFCCC official maintained.

Talking about the mitigation actions, Luboyera narrated that those could be anything from renewable energy projects to reducing emissions from deforestation projects to mitigation actions in agriculture, provided the additional mitigation benefit can be measured, reported and verified.

Einar Hebogaad Jensen, the Danish Ambassador to Bangladesh in his brief speech expressed that Denmark was preparing itself to be host of one of the biggest international government conferences in the country’s history.

“The objective of the summit in Copenhagen will be to formulate a new and striving global agreement on climate change that includes all countries of the world and also the ambitious target for reducing global green house gas emissions,” reveling the Ambassador.

He also reiterated, “Denmark will listen carefully to all parties and mediate in the process towards a final agreement. You will find Denmark in a more facilitating role. We will look for overlapping positions and identify where common ground is emerging. From national initiator we will move to be an international mediator. Our aim is to ensure transparency and openness.”

Speaking about the developing countries, Jensen argued that they should contribute with a nationally appropriate mitigation action supported and enabled by technology, financing, capacity building in a measurable, reportable and verifiable manner.

“Climate Change is also a development challenge. Support for climate related activities in the developing countries must be integrated into national development planning,” argued the Danish Ambassador adding that Denmark is supporting a significant number of government and NGO initiatives for adaptation as well as capacity building to face the challenges of climate change in Bangladesh.

The Dutch Ambassador to Bangladesh, Alphons JAJMG Hennekens, described during his speech that both Netherlands and Bangladesh had some similar problems and opportunities (from densely populated to adjacent to the sea). Emphasizing on the scientific water management, the Ambassador advocated for engaging all political parties and institutions in the process.

He also admitted that the developed countries should to take the lead in the adaptation and mitigation strategy for the challenge, where Hennekens emphasized on the role of media as a vigilant agent for the benefit of the human race.

Dr M Asaduzzaman, research director of BIDS, described the position of Bangladesh, where Dhaka has already made it clear that it would never compromise on the food and livelihood security. He strongly advocated that the global communities including the largest emitter, USA must play their responsible roles for formulation of the action plan in the summit.

Cautioning that the climate change will go worse in the coming days, Dr Rezaul Karim, former division chief of UNESCAP proposed for the climate bail out actions like that of economic bailout arrangement during the time of recession. He also appealed the media to continue its effort in exposing the impact of climate change on the food and livelihood security and finally on the entire society.

Pieter Terpstra from the Dutch Embassy in Dhaka, during his presentation in the technical session on the water management experience of Netherlands, asserted that the crisis of water is a man-made disaster. The young diplomat also emphasized that the political will and the governance are two important aspects that must be pursued to mitigate the current problems related to water. These problems include river floods, sea level rise and salination of land.

Andre Vermeer, the first Secretary of Dutch Embassy in Dhaka also insisted on the trusted, effected and efficient government to deal with such situations. In any disaster, he emphasized the prompt warning system as well as the post-disaster management and rehabilitation programme of local governments.

Speaking to this wrier, Quamrul Islam Chowdhury, the APFEJ chairman argued, “Given the magnitude of fast growing problems of climate change, sea level rise, water- both the flood and scarcity, it is time to address these impending sustainable development issues seriously and try to create public awareness in the international level to prepare ourselves and future generation in facing the odds and finally ensuring a safe planet for them.”

Chowdhury, also the Secretary General of WWFJ at the same time promised that the members of both the organizations would leave no stone unturned to mainstream the water, climate change and other relevant issues in the international media. He also said he would extend support to the global campaign to stop the unsustainable exploitation of water resources and mitigate the emission of greenhouse gases.

Nava Thakuria is a Guwahati (Northeast India) based journalist, who contributes to NewsBlaze and various media outlets throughout the world.