Improving capacity against climate change

Improving capacity against climate change

7 July 2008

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Indonesia — Climate change is a serious problem that demands special attention because its adverse effects can hamper long-term development, with the potential for world-wide economic losses.

The country report presented by the Department of Public Works of Indonesia during the COP Conference of 13 Parties in Bali in November 2007, shows that of all of the disasters that hit Indonesia between 2003-2006, 75 to 80 percent were induced by climatic change.

This in not good news because studies done by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and other well known international and national research bodies show that those hazards are threatening developing and underdeveloped countries. Those countries do not have the capacity to cope with such disasters.

Climate change is caused by global warming, which is a consequence of human activities, including the burning of fossil fuels since the beginning of the industrial revolution and other exploitative activities especially relating to Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry — all of which are outpacing efforts to mitigate them.

At the international level, negotiations on emission reduction face many challenges. Debate rages over the extent to which Annex B countries must comply with emission cuts stipulated by the Kyoto Protocol’s first period (2008-2012) terms.

According to Global Review 2007, a hazard is an event, phenomenon, or human activity with the potential to inflict casualties, damage property, disturb social and economic activities, or degrade the environment.

Also, climate change-induced disasters are classified under climatic hazards (cyclones, floods and droughts) and highly localized climate hazards (flash floods, landslides, mudslides and wild forest fires).

Adaptive capacity is the ability of a system (whether ecosystem, social economic or institutional) to adapt to the impacts of climate change, reduce losses and to independently handle those impacts.

Climate change adaptation is the same as both structural and non-structural disaster mitigation. In this case, long-term mitigation covers awareness and knowledge sharing on climate change within a community, policy and regulation assurances, early warning systems and educational programs.

Whether a community has a strong or weak adaptive capacity can be discerned by judging it externally and internally. External factors include condition of the current ecosystem and environmental carrying capacity, while internal factors include availability of regulations and institutions, budgeting and human resources.

Adaptivity has to be heightened in order to achieve an ethical political approach that integrates matters of mitigation with adaptation.

All sectors and departments within a community are responsible for creating an adaptive environment.

An effective system would take into account the risks and effects of climate change over the short, mid and long term, and translate this into a working program.

Climate change pertains to environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity, and the risks demand for a disaster management program, a reduction in emissions and a reduction in poverty

Governments should also integrate with private institutions to increase effectiveness.

Indonesia released the National Action Plan for Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation at the end of 2007. The document still demands revision by related sectors, academics and experts.

Data and facts on the adverse effects of climate change requires updating before a decision can be made within the next few years on how to integrate the systems and on what kind of budget is required.

However, it is not only on a technical level that improvements have to be made. There should be a willingness between sectors to integrate and promote structured communication to avoid overlapping projects and excessive bureaucracy.

Although the most vulnerable countries and areas are still being decided during Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice meetings, Indonesia should not waste time in establishing development plans for disaster management and the environment.

Ignorance increases vulnerability. Do not use climate change as an excuse for mismanagement and economic shortcomings.

Climate change is a problem that is accelerating exponentially, and measures on adaptivity and prevention must be defined and implemented now before momentum gains.

By Ari Muhammad and Lya Anggraini, Jakarta; both writers’ works for the Climate Change Adaptation Program at WWF Indonesia.

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