A few days before the start of the U.N. climate conference this week in Copenhagen, the results of an interesting – and very relevant – poll were released by the World Bank. While world leaders and other high-level representatives from more than 190 countries negotiate during the two-week conference (Dec. 7-18), this multi-country survey attempts to give a voice to average people in the developing world.
East Asia and Pacific
In a few hours, world leaders and representatives from up to 192 countries will meet in Copenhagen, Denmark, for the highly anticipated United Nations Climate Change Conference, which starts on Monday and lasts for two weeks.
The theme of DM2009 -- "Climate Adaptation" -- is looking very timely. Today in the Washington Post there's a revealing Page One feature on how adaptation is catching on in countries around the world, with a special focus on what the Dutch, who have had centuries of experience coping with flooding, are doing to manage perhaps worse threats coming from climate change.
Most adaptation strategies assume the Earth will get hotter -- by at least 2 degrees C. no matter what countries do to mitigate the buildup of greenhouse gases. Adaptation doesn't try to control climate, but to adjust to its destructive impacts, like flooding and drought. The goals are to protect people and their community, including natural resources.
The frustration with DM2009 wasn't its mission, but that there wasn't enough money to fund all the worthwhile adaptation projects that made it to the finals. The nearly US$5 million pool funded 26 projects. But at least some jurors thought there were many more worthy projects. After all, the 100 finalists had survived a screeening that eliminated 94 percent of applicant projects.
The post-competition challenge is how non-winners can stay alive. Twenty-two of the projects aim to bring help to Least Developed Countries (LDCs), those which stand to be the biggest losers from climate change, like Bangladesh in South Asia, Nepal (photo of Nepalese villager by Simone D. McCourtie, World Bank) in East Asia and the Pacific, and Mozambique and many other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. To improve their chances, LDC project sponsors should make an all-out effort to be included in their countries' National Adaptation Programs of Action. Most of the world's 49 LDCs have produced NAPAs as a key step toward getting funding for their adaptation efforts from developed countries. While the LDC Fund contains only US$172 million -- hardly enough for adaptation projects in 49 countries -- the amount is likely to be increased as a result the U.N.-sponsored climate change negotiations that begin in Copenhagen on Monday. Furthermore, the World Bank's Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR) has US$546 million to help finance NAPA adaptation projects of LDCs that are in the pilot. So far, PPCR includes six LDCs. Thirteen of the non-winning DM2009 finalists come from four of those six pilot countries (Bangladesh, Cambodia, Mozambique, and Nepal).
The 22 non-winning DM2009 finalists from LDC countries can make strong cases for inclusion in NAPAs. First, they have already been closely scrutinized by evaluators. Second, these early-stage projects are minimally expensive -- none would cost more than US$200,000. Third, they meet the top NAPA "guiding element" of local focus because they're strongly community-based. Fourth, they were designed to be replicated. And fifth, their specific objectives dovetail with the more general ones of their countries' NAPAs.
There's a common message for all those finalists: Go for it.
- South Asia
- Middle East and North Africa
- East Asia and Pacific
- Social Development
- Public Sector and Governance
- Private Sector Development
- Information and Communication Technologies
- Financial Sector
- Culture and Development
- Communities and Human Settlements
- Agriculture and Rural Development
- Climate Change
|Residents of Honiara eating dinner during a blackout. Energy in the Solomon Islands can be unreliable and expensive.|
A few nights ago, when I returned to my house on the ridges above Solomon Islands capital Honiara, my alarm clock was flashing 2 p.m. It was obviously wrong, and I have stopped relying on it for the time. Instead it is simply a very noisy gauge of how long it has been since the last power outage.
Unreliable energy supply is perhaps one of the harder things to get used to when living in Honiara. Long overdue maintenance being carried out on the city’s diesel chugging generators causes power outages for 72 hours per month on average. What is worse is that this actually seems efficient compared to rural areas which, due to a lack of spare parts and diesel, can lose power for up to a week.
The online population in Asian and Pacific countries grew by 22 percent last year. China led the growth with an incredible 31 percent increase – to 220 million – in total unique Web visitors. These latest numbers of the region’s explosive Internet growth are according to a report, released last month by Internet researcher comScore, measuring online audiences in the region and individual countries between September 2008 and 2009.
The report indicates that Internet audiences in Japan, India and South Korea also saw double-digit growth and that the Asia-Pacific region now has 41 percent – or 441 million people – of the global Internet audience. It’s interesting to see how quickly things have changed since the last time we wrote about an earlier report from comScore.
If you want to examine more of the report’s findings you can see the related press release, or download a presentation on the subject here. (Note: To download the slides, you have to provide them with your name and some contact info.)
I’ve pointed before to World Bank evidence that shows the Internet may lead to improved economic growth, job creation and good governance. What else do you think such increased connectivity could mean for development in the region?
Vox has an informative article by two South African economists, Peter Draper and Gilberto Biacuana, highlighting the effects of declining trade flows on African growth. The first half of the piece offers an excellent summary of Sub-Saharan Africa's economic state as a result of the crisis. The authors argue that the crisis has affected Africa mostly through reduced exports and commodity prices, along with declining capital inflows.
A bunch of software programmers get together, listen to a list of desired projects formulated by aid, emergency, and development experts that would help tackle issues related to disaster relief, work for two days and the result is eleven applications that will allow users to easily report their status in the event of a disaster, locate family, provide data needed by emergency responders, or that will automatically process aerial images taken by Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), among others.
Indigenous Peoples have been contending with destructive weather like cyclones, flooding, and drought for centuries -- as the development community has sometimes belatedly discovered. Nine of DM2009's winners are projects that tap into that special know-how to help indigenous communities survive the increasingly destructive weather that climate change brings.
Indigenous know-how is invariably practical and low-cost -- like the winner from Samoa. That project would build three traditional Samoan houses -- called fale, for "open house" -- as models of "safer, accessible, resilient, and sustainable housing."
Here's how a fale is built, as described in a fascinating story on the East Asia & Pacific website of the World Bank: The structure is "lashed and tied together with afa -- an organic sennit rope. Afa is made by twisting together the fibers of dry coconut husks. The lashing work is traditionally done by elderly men while women make the thatch for the domed roof of the fale – either from coconut palm leaves or sugar cane." (Photo after recent rain shows 80-year-old Pousea, ceremonial house in Samoa that was restored by DM winner Afeafe o Vaetoefaga Pacific Academy of Cultural Restoration, Research, and Development two years ago.)
|The International Advisory Group in action at Ban Sop On, one of the resettled villages at Nakai Plateau.|