Thursday, November 19, 2009

‘Liberia reeling from the effects of climate change’

Liberia’s Vice President Joseph N. Boakoi says Liberia and the entire continent of
Africa is reeling from the debilitating effects of climate change and needs prompt and robust action, though Africa is not among those who pollute the World.

Ambassador Boakoi said in an attempt to address the travesty of justice imposed by the World’s leading polluters, African leaders have agreed to demand compensation from industrialized countries that are engage in the pollution of the continent and the World.
Speaking at the launch of the 2009 State of the World Population (SWOP) Report in the Auditorium of the University of Liberia, Amb. Boakoi noted that, though Liberia has not significantly contributed to global warming but the country is a victim of the phenomenon of climate change.

He said Liberia has been listed among disaster prone nations and gradually being affected by unprecedented levels of floods, sea erosions and other forms of climate change.

The program organized by the Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs in collaboration with the United Nations Fund for Population Agency (UNFPA) was held under the theme: “Facing A Changing World: Women, Population and Climate”.

V.P Boakoi further said, climate change is partly the result of an approach to development and economic growth that has proven to be unsustainable, which halting will require what he called, ‘a fresh, more equitable and sustainable approach to the way people live, produce and consume.’

Amb. Boakoi also indicated that as the growth of the World’s population estimated at 7 billion, economies and consumption outpaces the earth’s capacity to adjust, and climate change could become more extreme and conceivably catastrophic.

Also speaking for UNFPA Resident Representative Esperance Fundira, the Resident Representative of the World Health organization (WHO), Dr. Nestor Ndayimirije said the launch this years’ SWOP report under the theme: “Facing a Changing World: Women, Population and Climate”, explores the links between climate change and population dynamics.

Dr. Ndayimirije said climate change remains a key issue of population dynamics, poverty and gender equality.

“Experts have established that climate-the average weather condition over time-is always changing, but never in the history of human existence more dramatically than it is likely to change in the coming century,” he noted.

The WHO boss said it is evident that climate change is largely due to human action, which influences activity on phenomenon in a very complex way.

According to Dr. Ndayimirije, WHO fact-sheet 2005 indicates that approximately 600,000 deaths occurred worldwide as a result of weather related disasters in the 1990s: and some 95% of these were in poor countries.
He pointed out that climate scientists have predicted that if these trends continue unabated there will be further catastrophic effects on the environment, habitats, economies and people.
Dr. Ndayimirije further said the report points out that countries also need to invest in women, ensuring that alternatives are provided including, wood imported fuel, secure clean water supplies, better roads and mobile phones.
The WHO boss noted that women and girls need education and health care including their reproductive health.
According to him, there are about 200 million women today who would like to space or prevent pregnancies, and who have no access to reliable and modern contraception.
“Helping women to make their own decisions about family size would protect their health, make their lives easier, help put their countries on a sustainable path towards development – and ensure lower greenhouse-gas emissions in the long run,” Dr. Ndayimirije said. See full text of the UNFPA boss message delivered by WHO’s Ndayimirije.
UNFPA Liberia Statement on the Occasion of the Launch of State of World Population Report 2009

Delivered by Dr. Nestor Ndayimirije,
Resident Representative, World Health Organization (WHO)

November 18, 2009

His Excellency the Vice President of Republic of Liberia,
President of University of Liberia
Honorable Ministers
Members of the National Legislature
Senior Government Officials
Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
UN Colleagues
Members of the Civil Society,
University Professors
Women
Students and Youth
Representatives of the Media
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of my Colleague UNFPA Resident Representative Madam Esperance Fundira, I would like to express our sincere thanks to the Government of Liberia especially the Hon’ble Vice-President for the support and gracious presence at this occasion.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Today, we launch the 2009 State of World Population report under the theme: “Facing a Changing World: Women, Population and Climate”. This year’s report explores the links between climate change and population dynamics. It demonstrates that climate change remains a key issue of population dynamics, poverty and gender equality.

How deep the trouble mankind is confronted with today as a result of its own activities? Experts have established that climate-the average weather condition over time-is always changing, but never in the history of human existence more dramatically than it is likely to change in the coming century.

This growing body of evidence shows that recent climate change is largely due to human action. The influence of human activity on climate change is very complex.
Ladies and Gentlemen

Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Republic of Liberia, in her recent welcome address at the “Consultation on Climate Change, Human Rights, Peace and Security”, stated and I quote:

“While Liberia has not contributed in any significant degree to global warming, it is, nevertheless, a victim of the phenomenon of climate change”.

According to the World Health Organization factsheet 2005, “approximately 600,000 deaths occurred worldwide as a result of weather related disasters in the 1990s: and some 95% of these were in poor countries”. If these trends continue unabated, many climate scientists are predicting further catastrophic effects on the environment, habitats, economies and people.



As rightly observed by the UNFPA Executive Director Madam Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, I quote:
“During the past half century, rapid population growth and industrialization have led to a rapid rise in greenhouse gas emissions. We have now reached a point where humanity is approaching the brink of disaster.
The damage done to the environment by modern society is one of the most inequitable risks of our time. Right now, the carbon footprint of the poorest billion people on Earth is a mere 3 per cent of the world’s total carbon footprint. And it is the poor who will bear the disproportionate brunt of our changing climate.
For many people, especially poor women in poor countries, climate change is here and now. Women work hard to keep their households together. They fetch the water, find the food and the fuel to cook it, and clean up afterwards. They watch their children’s health and care for their illnesses. In recent years, both food and fuel have been harder to find. The available water carries parasites. Malaria is creeping into areas that used to be mosquito-free. And floods, rising seas and drought present growing challenges.
Poor women in poor countries are among the hardest hit by climate change even though they contributed the least to it. Poor women don’t take planes. They don’t drive cars. As often as not, they can’t find a vehicle to get them to hospital if they have a difficult labour. In fact, they get very little support for all they do.”
Madam Thoraya also observed and gave a clarion call, I quote:
“This must change. As this report points out, support for women grappling with climate change means empowering them to take their own decisions and be involved in public decisions that affect their lives. Yes, countries need to invest in green technology and reduce emissions immediately and this is a focus for next month’s conference in Copenhagen.
This report points out that countries also need to invest in women – in ensuring alternatives to wood and imported fuel, in secure clean water supplies, in better roads and mobile phones. Girls need education and health care. Women need attention to their own health, including their reproductive health. There are about 200 million women today who would like to space or prevent pregnancies, and who have no access to reliable and modern contraception.
Helping women to make their own decisions about family size would protect their health, make their lives easier, help put their countries on a sustainable path towards development – and ensure lower greenhouse-gas emissions in the long run.”

Ladies and gentlemen, climate change has the potential to reverse the hard-earned development gains of the past decade and the progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Climate change threatens to exacerbate poverty and burden marginalized and vulnerable groups with additional hardships. Poor households are especially vulnerable to climate change because their marginal income provides little or no access to health services or other safety nets to protect themselves against the threats from changing conditions.
The Way forward
Ladies and gentlemen,
The 1994 International Conference on Population and Development or ICPD, was a milestone in the history of population and development. There is a good reason to believe that achievements of the ICPD Goals of universal access to reproductive health, in combination with improved education of girls and gender equality, would help reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in the long run.
Meeting the needs of some 200 million women worldwide who wish to avoid or delay pregnancy would prevent some 23 million unplanned births and 142,000 pregnancy-related deaths. In addition to contributing to eventual population stabilization, women’s ability to plan their families can empower them to cope with the realities of a changing climate, including migration in the face of drought, floods and other extreme weather conditions. The contributions of women to addressing the effects of a changing climate are maximized when they are able to plan their pregnancies and protect their reproductive health.


What is the future scenario? I would like to reiterate the way forward proposed by UNFPA Executive Director, I quote:
“Any treaty emerging out of this Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change “that helps people adapt to climate change and that harnesses women’s and men’s power to reverse the warming of the earth’s atmosphere would launch a genuinely effective long-term global strategy to deal with climate change.

Overall, climate change is not just an issue of energy or the environment; it is also a moral issue of justice and equity. All nations and people have the right to development. And all countries are challenged to develop in ways that are socially equitable and environmentally sound.
Women should be part of any agreement on climate change—not as an afterthought or because it’s politically correct, but because it’s the right thing to do. Our future as humanity depends on unleashing the full potential of all human beings, and the full capacity of women, to bring about change.”

I thank you once again Ladies and Gentlemen for joining us today!

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