UNDP Report: Climate Change Poses an Opportunity for Pacific to Re‐Invent Development

Jun 12, 2012

A week before world leaders meet in Rio to take stock of development progress, UNDP launched its  flagship 2012  UNDP  Asia‐Pacific  Human  Development Report  One Planet  to  Share: Sustaining Human Progress in a Changing Climate, as part of its contributions to the Rio+20 process.

Samoan Prime Minister Honorable Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Lupesoliai Malielegaoi speaking at the Pacific regional launch in Apia said, “We are required to do what has not been done before: sustain growth that is inclusive and lift people out of poverty in a time of profound climate change. It is in the region’s own interest to address climate change and do development differently.” Hon. Tuilaepa added that, “Action to address climate change also means better health, cleaner air, less pollution, a healthier natural environment, pleasanter surroundings – which improve the quality of life and save costs.”

Speaking at the launch, United Nations Resident Coordinator and UN Development Programme Resident Representative, Ms. Nileema Noble underscored the importance of Pacific youth in responding to climate change.

“Youth  in the  Pacific are  catalysts  for  transformational change,”  She  highlighted,  “They  can take advantage of the considerable opportunities for youth‐led responses to climate change, such as ‘green’ employment  opportunities  arising  in  the  agriculture, industry, transportation and manufacturing, sectors.”

The regional launch was made possible through support from the University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Alafua Campus which connected 11 other Pacific countries live via satellite, namely: Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Acting Campus Director,  Leatuolevao  Ruby  Vaa  said:  “We  are delighted that  USP  has  facilitated  the participation of many Pacific Island countries with us today through its satellite system, USPNet; this is truly a regional launch for the Pacific.”

The Pacific regional launch was followed by a panel discussion on the report composed of: Feiloakitau Kaho Tevi (Former General Secretary of the Pacific Council of Churches, and special contributor to the report); Professor Robin South (Marine Sciences) USP; Taulealeausumai Laavasa Malua, CEO, Samoan Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment; and Netatua Pelesikoti, Director of Climate Change, SPREP, who discussed the findings of the report.

Some of the report’s key messages for the region include:
•    Developing countries face different conditions from those faced by the industrialised world in their process of growth; as we may be approaching limits to the unrestricted use of natural resources, growing first and cleaning‐up later is not an option any more. Managing emissions better needs to become an inherent part of adapting and building resilience to climate change.
•    Uncompleted development agendas imply that Asia‐Pacific is much less “locked‐in” to the old ways. There are opportunities to do development differently, to embed development responses to climate change in poverty and inequality reduction.
•    Triggers for transformation need not explicitly be about climate change; lower emissions also mean better health, cleaner air, less pollution, a healthier natural environment, pleasanter surroundings — which improve quality of life and save costs anyway.
•    Increasing use of renewable energy and low‐carbon technologies, while reducing the use of fossil fuels, can sustain the environment and offer opportunities to the poor, including jobs and better services.
•    Rural areas require far more attention. Home to most of Asia‐Pacific’s poor and vulnerable people, they have poverty rates often twice as high as those in urban areas. Rural households are highly sensitive to climate shocks. Rural resilience strategies should be grounded in human development. Communities that are educated, have reliable sources of income, and are more equal, will be better equipped to meet new climate demands.

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