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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Burundi’s second National Communications on Climate Change: Why is it urgent to address the increasing vulnerability to Climate Change

Yesterday, I attended the launch of Burundi’s second National Communications on Climate Change - a report on the steps a country is taking or envisage undertaking to implement the UNFCCC (Articles 4.1 and 12).

In accordance with the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" enshrined in this Convention, the required contents of these national communications and the timetable for their submission is different for Annex I (developed) and non-Annex I (developing country) Parties.

Each non-Annex I Party shall submit its initial communication within three years of the entry into force of the Convention for that Party, or of the availability of financial resources (except for the least developed countries, which may do so at their discretion).

According to the UNFCCC, of the 153 non-Annex I Parties, 137 have submitted their initial national communications, 24 their second national communications, one party each their third and fourth national communications.

Supported by UNDP and GEF, Burundi prepared its second national report (2006 – 2009) that has been launched in Cancun. Like many East African Countries, Burundi is faced with food insecurity that has been aggravated by unstable climate conditions affecting the this region in recent years.

For example, the World Bank has drawn attention to the exceptionally high rate of deforestation in Burundi, estimated at 9% per year between 1996 and 2000. This has contributed to degradation of soil, marshlands and possibly the reduction in the water level of Lake Tanganyika.

Burundi is a country with a high population growth that puts excessive pressure on the arable lands and natural resources (90% of the population depends on agriculture). Hence the sensitive interaction between climate change, sustainable ecosystems and food security will present a most demanding challenge for the government and donors.

This Second National Communications underscored the vulnerability of Burundi to Climate Change that span a range of development sectors including agriculture and livestock, health, water for production, energy and management of ecosystems (same like in the initial National Communications). This state of affairs is no different from many LDCs that urgently need support to ‘cushion’ themselves against both the predictable and unpredictable impacts of climate change.

Though the UN has set up an Adaptation fund, a lot more efforts need to be put in to help vulnerable communities like in Burundi, other LDCs and Small Island States. This is needed in terms of targeted national support for institutional capacity building in line with the principles established for the Adaptation Fund.

In addition, such vulnerable countries need capacity building support to secure that communities are able to ‘drive’ any efforts to adapt to the effects of climate change. For example both Burundi’s NAPA and the second National Communications identify a wide range of potential micro projects that need the support of the affected communities, Government, Civil Society and development partners.

In conclusion, this side event, together with the views and opinions I have gathered from a couple of delegates, to me justify urgent local and national actions to scale up adaptive capacities in the (vulnerable) LDCs and Small Island States

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