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How can International Development policy help poor countries face climate change?

The current mainstreaming of climate change into international development policies and thinking may not be enough to address the practical challenge of climate change in poor countries says Professor Kate Brown of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. A leading specialist in climate change and international development, Professor Brown’s experience shows that international development needs to be restructured in radically different ways.

“Mainstreaming climate change into international development thinking is not going to urgently help poor people in poor countries” says Professor Brown. ”Regions of the world need fundamentally different approaches if meaningful progress is to be made in poverty reduction in the face of climate change.”

She cites recent Tyndall Centre research in Burkina Faso as evidence. “As one of the world’s poorest countries, Burkina Faso already suffers severe flood and drought as part of its natural climate variability. Recent unrest has been caused by inflation of food prices and living costs. Ministers and local organisations see climate change as already impacting on these; with some predicting mass migration, hunger and destitution in the future”.

Professor Brown recommends that international development has to implement long-term sustainable solutions that are tailored to the needs of specific countries and their specific changing climates.

“Acknowledging climate change as simply another constraint to the alleviation of global poverty, alongside poor healthcare, education, poor governance and infrastructure is not enough to deal with it. It requires a very different set of approaches to those currently adopted by international development organisations and donors. We need to re-think whether economic growth is an effective driver of development and target different sectors of societies” says Professor Kate Brown.

Professor Brown is an opening speaker at a Policy Forum sponsored by the Government’s Department for International Development and the Development Studies Association. The Forum is organised by the Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich, the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and SouthSouthNorth. Taking part are Government advisers and managers and climate change experts from development agencies, NGOs and academia.

Professor John Morton of the Natural Resources Institute adds “we have designed this policy forum not as an academic conference but as a real opportunity for development donors, researchers, NGOs and others concerned by climate change to discuss the issues, learn from each other, and make new connections”.

Other keynote speakers include Elwyn Grainger-Jones, Head of Climate and Environment at DfID, Andrew Simms of the New Economics Foundation and Boaventura Cuamba of SouthSouthNorth Mozambique.

Following the speakers, a series of topic-focused discussion groups will seek to evaluate differences and agreements and include: the future of development; environment, conflict and migration; biofuels and energy development; finance for new sources of energy; developing countries and a post-Kyoto deal; climate change and disasters; and building capacity to adapt to climate change.

The Forum is hosted by the Natural Resources Institute at the University of Greenwich, London and will take place on 2nd June 2008.

Asher Minns | alfa
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