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BONN, Germany (PAMACC News) - A special initiative to protect people living in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) from the heath impacts of climate change was today launched at the ongoing Bonn climate talks.

The initiative is an effort by World Health Organization, in collaboration with the UN Climate Change secretariat and in partnership with the Fijian Presidency of the twenty-third Conference of the Parties (COP23). 

By 2030, the initiate wants all Small Island Developing States to have climate-resilient health systems.  

It also envisions drastic global reduction of carbon emissions both to protect the most vulnerable from climate risks and deliver large health benefits in carbon-emitting countries.
 
With four main goals, the initiative seeks to amplify the voices of health leaders in Small Island Developing States, so they have more impact at home and internationally; and  to gather the evidence to support the business case for investment in climate change and health.
 
It further seeks to promote policies that improve preparedness and prevention, including "climate proof" health systems and the multiplication of international financial support levels to climate and health in small island developing states.
 
"People living in Small Island Developing States are on the frontline of extreme weather events, rising sea levels and increased risk of infectious disease," said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. "We owe it to these people to do everything we can to help them prepare for the future that is already washing up on their shores."
 
"We in Fiji know all too well that climate change poses a serious threat to the health of our people. I'm delighted that we are launching this initiative - in partnership with the WHO and UNFCCC - to better equip small island states like ours with the knowledge, resources and technology to increase the resilience of their health systems, as part of larger efforts to adapt to climate change," said Fijian Prime Minister and COP23 President Frank Bainimarama.
 
Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change believes “climate change will increasingly impact the health and well-being of people everywhere unless nations fully implement the Paris Agreement”.
 
“Small islands are in the frontline from extreme weather events that can contaminate drinking water to health-hazardous heatwaves and the spread of infectious diseases. This initiative can strengthen the response of small islands to the rising risks as the world works to ensure that together we keep a global temperature rise well below 2 degrees C and better, no higher than 1.5 degrees, “ she said.

Secretary General of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), Mithika Mwenda described the initiative as symbolic coming at a time island states have suffered serious health challenges enormously due to climate-related hurricanes and tornadoes. 

"As this initiative comes under the Fijian Presidency of the COP, we believe Fiji knows where the shoe pinches most, and we urge them to lead the COP23 into concrete outcomes that will shine light on the increasingly gloomy picture we are witnessing on the path towards the 2018 global stock-take," Mithika added.

SIDS and climate change 
 
Small Island Developing States have long been recognized as especially vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. Their situation is highlighted in the UNFCCC, by Ministers of Health at the 2008 World Health Assembly, and in the 2015 Paris Agreement.
 
They have also pioneered innovative approaches to improve the resilience of their health systems to climate change. As well as emitting a small proportion of the greenhouse gases that are driving climate change, many are further reducing their already low carbon emissions.
 
"Small Island Developing States are ready to take leadership towards green, resilient and health-promoting national development – but the support of the international community is essential,” said Dr Joy St John, recently appointed Assistant Director-General for Climate and Other Determinants of Health at WHO.
 
"Less than 1.5% of international finance for climate change adaptation is allocated to projects which ensure that the health of all people is preserved, and only a fraction of this supports small island developing states. The recent severe weather events in the Caribbean demonstrate that targeted interventions are important. We need to do much more and we need to act very quickly."
 
Country ownership is a central principle of this initiative. Ministers of health from some of the most affected countries have already started to provide input through consultation with WHO's Director-General and at WHO Regional Committee meetings, and this process will continue.
 
Since 2015, WHO has been working with the UNFCCC secretariat to develop detailed country profiles to assess risks, and provide tailored advice on how these countries can adapt to, and mitigate, the health effects of climate change.  More than 45 country profiles have already been completed and, as part of this initiative, WHO commits to publishing a country profile for all small island developing states by the end of 2018.
 
Many national health actors, development and United Nations agencies are already making important contributions to protect health in small island developing states. WHO’s initiative aims to bring together existing and new efforts and scale them up so they achieve maximum impact.
 
“The vision is that, by 2030, all health systems in small island developing states will be able to withstand climate variability and change,” adds Dr St John. “And, of course, that countries around the world will have substantially reduced carbon emissions.”

This article was first published on the pamacc website

BONN, Germany (PAMACC News) - Syria has indicated its interest to join the Paris Agreement, effectively leaving the United State of America all alone in the cold conclave of climate deniers.   
 
"I would like to affirm the Syrian Arab Republic's commitment to the Paris climate change accord," Syrian Deputy Environment Minister Wadah Katmawi told delegates of the 196 nations at the ongoing climate talks in Bonn, Germany.
 
Katmawi said the accord would be signed "as soon as possible", adding that Syria would seek foreign aid to help it meet its commitments under the deal.
 
UN spokesman Nick Nuttall, confirmed the move, saying that Syria would first have to submit ratification documents at the UN headquarters in New York.
 
196 countries excluding Syria and Nicaragua in December 2015, agreed to keep global temperatures well below the 2c level above pre-industrial times and endeavour to limit them even more to 1.5c.
 
Contained in what later became known as the Paris Agreement, countries further agreed to limit the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity, and enable rich countries to help the poorer nations by providing climate finance to adapt to climate change and switch to renewable energy.
 
With its pariah status and the bloody civil war going on then, Syria was in no position to attend the discussions in Paris. Nicaragua on the other hand, withheld its signature from the agreement until last October when stronger measures were put in place.
 
The United States began a three-year process of withdrawal from the agreement in June 2017. President Donal Trump while announcing the withdrawal invoked his "solemn duty to protect America" and promised to seek a new deal that would not disadvantage US businesses.
 
He claimed that the accord would cost the US 6.5 million jobs and $3tn (£2.2tn) in lost GDP - while rival economies like China and India were treated more favourably. He also said that he could revisit the decision if the United States could renegotiate terms he sees as unfair.
 
With the Syrian declaration today and Nicaragua’s signature in October, US now treads on the lonely path to seeking a seeking the renegotiation of a landmark climate deal aimed at protecting the planet and the people of the earth.

Tuesday, 07 November 2017 00:00

COP 23: What is at stake for Africa?

BONN, Germany (PAMACC News) - Delegates from about 196 countries have gathered in Bonn, Germany for what has become a semblance of a yearly ritual – the 23rd conference of parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
 
The conference holds from the 6 -17 November 2017 in Bonn under the leadership of Fiji which is the first small island developing state to hold this role.
 
The COP is coming at a time extreme weather events like floods, hurricanes and fires have destabilised millions of people in Africa Asia, the Americas and the Caribbean. COP 23 therefore aspires to propel the world towards the next level of ambition needed to tackle global warming and put the world on a safer and more prosperous development path.
 
Africa and the COP Process

At the beginning of COP 22 in Marrakech, Morocco, November 2016, the Paris Agreement era had been ushered in. Countries of the world had demonstrated commitment and the Agreement had come into force faster than anticipated. Due to this reality, COP 22 then focused on how to make Paris agreement work by setting up mechanisms and structures that would facilitate its implementation.
 
A year later and with with over 33 African countries ratifying the Paris Agreement, Africans are heading to Bonn with a bag full of expectations for the continent and the world.
 
As the region with least contribution to green house gas emissions and the most affected in terms of climate disasters, African delegates are not happy with the failure of the COP process to close the finance gap; inadequacy in pledges; delay in addressing ‘orphan issues’ under the Paris Agreement especially common time-frames for NDCs, and adjustment of existing NDCs. Others are recognition of developing countries’ adaptation efforts; guidance related to finance; and the slow pace and ambiguity in sequencing of work on the Paris Agreement Rule Book thus creating roadblocks in advancing the its formulation.
 
African demands

Prof Seth Osafo of the African Group of Negotiators (AGN) believes that the slow progress by developed country parties towards reaching the US$100 billion goal of joint annual mobilisation by 2020 is not in Africa’s interest. Speaking at the African civil society Pre-COP workshop in Bonn, Prof Osafo said Africa’s interest lies in developed countries providing financial support to developing countries and positioning the Paris Committee on Capacity Building (PCCB) to provide support to developing countries in finance, technology and capacity building.
 
At the Pre-COP workshop organised by African civil society actors including farmers, pastoralists, youth and gender groups under the umbrella of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), non-state actors from the region expressed their desire for loss and damage concerns to be fully taken into consideration as the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) shifts to serve the Paris Agreement after 2020.

According to Mithika Mwenda, Secretary General of the alliance, parties should establish a globally supported insurance mechanism (especially for agriculture and infrastructure sectors) in line with the objectives of the WIM for Loss & Damage by 2020. “We call on Parties to establish a framework, preferably outside but complimentary to UNFCCC, for addressing liability or compensation due to losses and damages in developing countries by extreme weather events and severe impacts of climate change” he added.
 
Pre-2020 commitments

Heading into the 23rd session of the Conference of Parties this year, one of the issues that have emerged as key expectation for African Parties to this year’s climate talks is progress on pre-2020 commitments.
 
African groups want COP23 to provide an opportunity for rich countries to revisit their commitment to undertake pre-2020 actions. The deliverables could be the concrete progress or signal with regards to the ratification of the Doha Amendment of the Kyoto Protocol (KP) to enable the entry into force of the second commitment period (for emissions reductions by developed countries under the KP) and the operationalisation of the US$100b per year from 2020 and other resources for developing countries.
 
The implementation of pre-2020 commitments which cover actions to be taken before the Paris Agreement comes into force are of high importance to safeguard the future of the climate.
 
Rule book for Paris Agreement

Another issue of urgent African importance at this COP is progress on the work programme to implement the Paris Agreement. Negotiations on the Paris Rule Book will be critical to ensuring that the promises made in the Paris Agreement are met. Some of these promises include the commitment of governments to respect, protect and take into consideration existing human rights obligations.
 
To enhance the likelihood that the Paris Agreement is effectively implemented, when developing the Paris Rule Book, parties are expected to integrate human rights and the social and environmental principles reaffirmed in the agreement’s preamble, including the rights of indigenous peoples, public participation, gender equality, safeguarding food security and ending hunger, a just transition, and ecosystem integrity.
 
Facilitative Dialogue 2018

According to the agreement reached in Paris, a facilitative dialogue (FD 2018) is to be convened to take stock of the collective efforts of Parties in relation to progress towards the long-term goal of the Paris Agreement and to inform the preparation of nationally determined contributions (NDCs).
 
The Facilitative Dialogue is expected to ensure the linkage between policies, actions and means of implementation. It will also be instrumental to maintaining the political momentum of the Paris Agreement and its long-term goal and the need to be informed by what science indicates as necessary for climate actions and ambition for next 15 years.
 
The design of the dialogue as an overall feature together with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on 1.5°C, the work of the climate champions and work of non-state actors, are critical for this purpose.

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