From: ICUN
Published October 24, 2007 08:49 AM

IUCN Partners Work to Change the Climate Outlook

Representatives of overseas development agencies, foundations, multilateral environmental agreements, and corporations all pooled their expertise and ideas yesterday, over how IUCN can be most effective in the battle against climate change.

They gathered at IUCN’s headquarters for the annual conference of partners. This is a valuable opportunity for partner organizations to learn more about the work of IUCN, progress made, challenges ahead, and to guide its work programme.

In the run-up to the UN meeting on climate change in Bali, the meeting’s focus was on how IUCN can be most effective in areas such as helping the poor in developing countries adapt to climate change. The keynote address was given by Dr Mohamed El Ashry, Fellow of the United Nations Foundation and former chair of the Global Environment Facility.

A panel discussion was chaired by IUCN President Valli Moosa on the links between environment, climate change and development – how investments in good environmental management can help ‘climate proof’ other investments. Many aspects of climate change were discussed – the need for collective action and partnerships, economic impacts, costs of mitigation and adaptation, and how to pay for them.

“Consensus emerged on a number of issues, particularly that IUCN has to focus on its added value, and what input it can have on issues such as biofuel production and standards for sustainable production”, said  Gerben de Jong, Director, Department of Environment and Water at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, one of IUCN’s major donors.

Avoided deforestation – using financial incentives to reduce deforestation – is a hot topic in climate change discussions. “IUCN has a great deal of experience in dealing with competing land uses. It is ideally placed to help finding an appropriate way to deal with the issue in an agreement. It can use its knowledge and contacts in its worldwide network, to work on solutions that are acceptable by all parties,” he added.

“This was a very useful meeting for me. I was able to soak up information on the organization, take part in effective debate and have an input into IUCN’s emerging role. The Netherlands spends 0.1% of its national income on Overseas Development Assistance for environment and water and we are looking to partners like IUCN to ensure the money is spent wisely and effectively.”

Dr Mohamed Ely Ashry said that despite all the science on climate change, governments are still stalling. “We need a heavier dose of public awareness because that is what will bring about pressure on governments,” he said.

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“We all know about the impacts of climate change, what’s missing is a sense of urgency. The message that there will water shortages in the Amazon, not just in sub Saharan Africa needs to be delivered to people and governments,” said Dr El Ashry.

He added that the business community was key to the climate change debate. “They need the long term commitment, certainty and a clear operating framework from governments so that they are prepared to make the long term investments which will help change the global climate forecast.”

For more information:

Claire Warmenbol, IUCN Water Programme Communications Officer, Mobile: +41 79 404 1973, claire.warmenbolnoneiucn.org

Interviews: Photo and Bio of Dr Bergkamp, Head of the IUCN Water Programme are available online: www.iucn.org/themes/wani/contactus/

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