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Document Abstract
Published: 2007

Climate change: impacts, vulnerabilities and adaptation in developing countries

Extensive summary of climate change impacts illustrating the urgent need to mainstream adaptation into new and existing development programmes
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The result of regional workshops held in Africa, Latin America and Asia, as well as one expert meeting held in small island developing states, this United Nations Convention on Climate Change text outlines the impact from climate change these regions face. It examines their vulnerabilities, current adaptation strategies and future options and needs. With effects from climate change already being felt, and the pace of change only likely to increase, adaptation is a necessary focus, especially for already vulnerable communities. Accurately assessing the impacts of, and vulnerability and adaptation to, climate change requires good quality information. A chapter is devoted to the collection and analysis of data, highlighting concerns from developing countries about access to and completeness of data sets and forecasting as well as the lack of accurate socio-economic data amongst others. Detailed assessments of current and potential impacts of climate change are broken down by region.
  • Africa – variable climates and poor adaptive capacity make many areas particularly vulnerable to climate change. Risks include overexploitation of natural resources, increased water scarcity, desertification, the spread of disease including HIV/AIDS and the fragility of eco-systems such as the Nile delta.
  • Asia – subject to regular natural hazards such as earthquakes and tsunami, Asia also has to contend with potentially strengthening extreme weather such as heat waves, cyclones etc. Higher temperatures threaten to accelerate glacial melt, resulting in greater risk of flooding and water scarcity. Urban air quality is also likely to be particularly hazardous to health, with Chongqing, China and Jakarta, Indonesia specifically mentioned.
  • Small island developing states – particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels and access to freshwater. Some states are threatened with complete inundation. 
  • Latin America – the region’s unique bio-diversity is threatened, as is access to freshwater as glaciers melt.
Adaptation strategies are next to be examined, focusing on the integration of adaptation into policy and the need for further capacity-building and training. Sectoral, cross-sectoral and multi-sectoral options are identified, with examples cited including the Nairobi Work Programme, which fosters knowledge exchange among researchers and stakeholders. Funding, insurance, capacity-building and adaptation integration into policy, are all looked at in some depth. In conclusion, the text recommends that adaptation be integrated into sustainable development planning at all scales, with local knowledge and strategies being utilised. Application procedures for funding should be streamlined and new funding sought for adaptation purposes.
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