The Stern Review and the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report conclude that developing countries are particularly vulnerable to climate change. Climate change results in harmful impacts on farming and hydrological systems, forests, fisheries, health, economic infrastructure, etc. Poverty can be expected to rise and the prospects of achieving the Millennium Development Goals to deteriorate.
The vulnerability of poor counties to natural hazards of various kinds is so extensive that it is already threatening the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. The poor are most affected by natural disasters because they often live on inferior land and in vulnerable social structures and have limited, if any, resources to prevent and cope with disaster impacts. Natural disasters are becoming more frequent and severe not only due to climate change, but also to poorly planned urbanisation, continued environmental degradation and population growth.
Studies demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of risk reduction and disaster prevention, both in terms of lives saved and the limitation of economic losses. But assistance to disaster-hit countries has mainly consisted of emergency relief and recovery. This has to change. To enable these countries to take early action to prevent natural disasters and alleviate their effects and also to respond to the negative impacts of climate change, assistance must focus to a greater extent on risk reduction and adaptation measures. This can enhance their ability to manage climate change and to withstand natural disasters and environmental degradation.
In several sectors of society, the link between risk reduction, adaptation measures and poverty reduction is clear. For instance, better drainage systems that prevent flooding help improve health conditions.
Climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction are receiving increasing attention. International policy frameworks have been adopted through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) and the Hyogo Framework for Action. Despite growing awareness, the financing, the institutions and the general approach to climate change are still reactive. In this context, ongoing processes in the UN, such as the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), and World Bank initiatives will be important tools. Adaptation is a less developed part of international climate cooperation. Disaster risk management at national and international levels remains focused on humanitarian assistance and emergency relief.
The tasks of the Commission
Based on how climate change affects the ability of developing countries to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, the Commission is to present concrete proposals on how adaptation, risk reduction and climate-proof development can be effectively integrated into development and poverty reduction plans in developing countries. The proposals should take account of a bottom-up perspective and consider local and traditional knowledge to ensure effective adaptation. They should also be socially efficient and cost-effective.
The Commission is also to present proposals on how to design Official Development Assistance that takes account of climate change impacts and disaster risks in developing countries. To ensure added value the work of the Commission is to build on, follow and link up with ongoing initiatives in this area, such as those of the United Nations Framework for Climate Change, the OECD and the EU.
The Commission is to concentrate on:
1) Identifying and analysing the incentives for and barriers to poor countries undertaking risk reduction and climate-proofing measures in their development cooperation and also contribute to increased awareness of the need to integrate climate-proofing, risk reduction and adaptation measures into development and poverty reduction strategies. The focus is to be on weather-related disasters and climate-related impacts on development. A comprehensive approach to risk reduction will be pursued, including all major disaster risks.
2) Discussing how best to combine long-term work on climate change mitigation with the immediate need to support adaptation measures in developing countries.
3) Identifying guidelines for international development cooperation in the fields of adaptation and risk reduction, taking account of local and national perspectives in developing countries.
4) Considering how to achieve policy coherence by integrating concerns for climate change into wider development efforts and drafting proposals for methods of conducting an integrated analysis of climate-proof development in development cooperation.
The Commission is also to:
assess the role and importance of ecosystems in disaster prevention and devise strategies to strengthen their capacity to meet climate change:
give special attention to the dangers that slum dwellers are exposed to and identify solutions to reduce their vulnerability:
give priority to slow-onset disasters such as prolonged droughts and chronic instability stemming from water scarcity:
assess whether and in that case how risk management mechanisms in the insurance industry can be used for risk reduction and adaptation measures in developing countries:
The Commission's mandate will run for approximately 18 months and result in a final report in spring 2009.
The Commission comprises 13 members including the Chair. Together they will represent different areas of expertise cover a broad geographical spread and be widely acknowledged and established among important actors in the area of climate change and development.
hold five meetings during the manadate period:
participate in relevant international conferences through workshops, lectures, etc: