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UN launches climate change programmes in Laos PDF Print E-mail
Written by ສົມອຸລາ ຍະພິຈິດ   
Monday, 25 May 2009 21:50

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Water Resources and Environment Administration (WREA) launched two programmes in Vientiane on Friday detailing a plan of action to address climate change in Laos .

The programmes were named as the National Adaptation Programme of Action to Climate Change (NAPA) and the National Capacity Needs Self Assessment for Global Environment Management.

These two projects have been implemented by WREA, supported by UNDP, and have received funding from the Global Environment Facility and the Least Developed Country Fund.

Both have enabled the government to, firstly, identify key priorities for adapting to climate change in Laos and, secondly, prioritise capacity needs to strengthen implementation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.

Minister to the Prime Minister's Office and WREA Head Ms Khempheng Pholsena said the government was committed to working with development partners to minimise the impacts of climate change on the development of the Lao people through effective adaptation activities.

Resident Representative of UNDP to Laos Ms Sonam Yangchen Rana said at the launch that the global climate was changing and threatened our future.

“We all witness changes in average temperatures, shifts in seasons and an increasing intensity of extreme weather events such as flooding and drought, including here in Laos .”

She explained the effects were already visible and would worsen in the future.

The associated economic, social and environmental impacts were large and it was often the poorest people who were most significantly affected.

Ms Rana concluded that climate change is no longer just an environmental issue. It is deeply rooted across all sectors of development.

“Climate change is likely to significantly affect efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015... Climate change is a central development challenge of this century. We have no choice but to address it with the urgency that it deserves,” the UN Representative said.

A UNDP press release reported that over 80 percent of Lao people depend on natural resources for their livelihoods and the Lao economy relies heavily on the country's natural resource base. This means the people of Laos are highly susceptible to the impacts of climate change.

For example, based on a 2007 country-wide national risk and vulnerability assessment conducted by the Word Food Programme, it is estimated that up to 46 percent of the rural population in Laos - about 188,000 households most of whom l ive in the lowlands - are vulnerable to the long dry season. This is in addition to the 2 percent of people who are already chronically food insecure

Adapting means learning to live with the changes generated by climate change. The estimated annual costs of adaptation in developing countries vary greatly, but often exceed US$80 billion per year.

The NAPA reviews the predicted impacts of climate change on Laos , and also assesses and prioritises possible adaptation options. It has identified 45 project proposals that are key to adapting to climate change, with a focus on the four sectors of agriculture, forestry, water and water resources, and public health.

The projects, developed for flood and drought prone areas, include strengthening the capacity of the National Disaster Management Committees, community participation in the development of improved systems for the sustainable use of drinking water, reforestation, and further development of early warning systems, amongst others.

The National Capacity Needs Self-Assessment for Global Environment Management plan has enabled the government of Laos to identify and characterise the nature of critical capacity constraints and priority capacity needs at national, institutional and individual levels related to global environmental management, with a focus on the implementation of the various UN Conventions in Laos

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