Africa’s approach to climate change in the spotlight at forum of world experts

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Africa’s approach to climate change in the spotlight at forum of world experts
Rich countries have a duty to support Africa as it adapts to climate change, the opening session of an international conference has heard.
Experts in development, climate change and human rights have come together for the Africa Climate Change Forum, hosted by the Government of Rwanda and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in Kigali, Rwanda.
Opening speakers at the forum included Howard Davies, director of LSE and His Excellency Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, (pictured left) who spoke of the need for collaboration to address climate change globally:
He said: ‘Greenhouse gas is probably about 70 per cent from rich countries, from 1 billion of the 6.7 billion people in the world. Africa has not caused this problem but the rest of the world has a real responsibility to help Africa respond. Yet the decisions (on adaptation) to help save Africa need to be African decisions.’
Over the two days more than 200 delegates at the forum will examine how climate change could reverse some of the development Africa has witnessed in recent years and how changing temperatures could prevent some people from accessing natural resources such as water and contribute to armed conflict.
Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and former President of Ireland, spoke of the need to forge a new movement – a global alliance for climate justice. Focusing on planning post-Koyoto, she said:

‘This challenge requires that we pool our efforts in order to anticipate and mitigate the effects of climate change globally, as well as on our continent, which is particularly vulnerable due to what I would call the vicious cycle of underdevelopment and environmental degradation.
Climate change can no longer be considered a field for scientists, experts and environmental activists alone – it is everybody’s business. No individual, nation or region can afford to stand on the sidelines – we all must commit to a single purpose of mitigating environmental degradation within our means and capabilities,' he said.

In a video address, Professor Lord Stern of Brentford, IG Patel Professor of Economics and Government at LSE, (pictured below right) said that Africa is being hit earliest and hardest by climate change despite the fact that it produces a small fraction of the worlds emissions.
He said: ‘Greenhouse gas is probably about 70 per cent from rich countries, from 1 billion of the 6.7 billion people in the world. Africa has not caused this problem but the rest of the world has a real responsibility to help Africa respond. Yet the decisions (on adaptation) to help save Africa need to be African decisions.’
Over the two days more than 200 delegates at the forum will examine how climate change could reverse some of the development Africa has witnessed in recent years and how changing temperatures could prevent some people from accessing natural resources such as water and contribute to armed conflict.
Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and former President of Ireland, spoke of the need to forge a new movement – a global alliance for climate justice. Focusing on planning post-Koyoto, she said:
‘Future framework must prioritize adaptation as much as mitigation. It must make the case effectively that climate change is as much a moral obligation as a pragmatic need for the richest countries which are most responsible for creating the problem and therefore must do more to assist poorer and more vulnerable nations in adapting to the inevitable impacts they will face in the near term….
'Human rights criteria - which we can think of as thresholds of minimum acceptability - provide a platform for broad-based dialogue on burden sharing of a kind that has frequently lacked in climate change debates.’
Journalists will discuss their role in the public debate on climate change: how they can help educate people about the changes they are witnessing and how to adapt.
Entrepreneurs will discuss opportunities for new business using technology and science to adapt to climate change.
Other speakers included the Rwandan Prime Minister Bernard Makuza;, Margaret Sekaggya, chair of the Uganda Human Rights Commission; Mr Graham Stegmann of the African Development Bank; and Grace Akumu, the outspoken Kenyan environmental leader of Climate Network Africa.
Ends
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This challenge requires that

This challenge requires that we pool our efforts in order to anticipate and mitigate the effects of climate change globally, as well as on our continent, which is particularly vulnerable due to what I would call the vicious cycle of underdevelopment and environmental degradation. Climate change can no longer be considered a field for scientists, experts and environmental activists alone – it is everybody’s business. No individual, nation or region can afford to stand on the sidelines – we all must commit to a single purpose of mitigating environmental degradation within our means and capabilities.'

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