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Climate change and natural resources management in SIDS in the context of improved food security, nutrition and livelihoods

  1. Climate Change and Natural Resources Management in SIDS in the context of Improved Food Security, Nutrition and Livelihoods Amb. Ronny Jumeau Ambassador of Climate change sids Seychelles 3 September 13-14:30 Faleata Sport Complex , Room CM5
  2. Background • Small island developing states already had a problem managing our natural resources without the added complications of climate change. • Food security and livelihoods were, and to varying degrees still are, threatened by deforestation, unsustainable forestry, fisheries and agricultural practices, unmanaged tourism, introduction of exotic species, mining (especially of coral), pollution and natural events such as hurricanes. • Exploitation of deep sea fisheries by foreign fleets is often unchecked or inadequately checked, and inshore and reef fisheries are not properly managed. As a result, many fishery resources are over-exploited, conflicts arise between competitive marine resources use (such as between fisheries and tourism), and coastal habitats are being degraded. • Mangroves and coral reefs are being destroyed, leading to loss of habitat for associated species and thus, loss of food, jobs and revenue. • Most, if not all, SIDS are net importers of food. We do not have enough land to produce food to sustain both our native populations and the large numbers of tourist visitors to our shores. • There is intense competition for the scarce land that we have, with agriculture too often losing out to tourism and infrastructure, among others.
  3. Climate change and SIDS • Agriculture and food security in small islands are disproportionately affected by increasing climate variability and climate change. • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) projects that global mean sea level rise, increasing temperature and rainfall variability is expected to affect biodiversity, freshwater resources, and agriculture and food security in SIDS. • Seychelles, for example, is one of many small island countries experiencing serious coastal degradation in the form of coastal erosion and sea water intrusion in fresh water aquifers. • This has led to unprecedented and drastic responses in some SIDS: • Kiribati has had to buy land in Fiji to produce food as its fresh water lenses became increasingly saline. • Natural resources management are becoming a transnational issue for SIDS in order to cope with an increasing loss of already limited arable land and of water to produce food. But what if a country cannot afford to buy land elsewhere.
  4. Climate change and SIDS • The increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events are a further and more often than not devastating challenge, destroying crops and affecting food production through flooding and drought. • The situation can be even direr at sea given that in SIDS, fisheries are generally a more important source of jobs, protein and exports. • The global coral bleaching of 1998 destroyed 90% of the coral reefs in Seychelles. Subsequent smaller coral bleaching events limited the speed of recovery and also affected the marine bio mass, including fish stocks. • Also in 1998, the same warming of the oceans drove tuna stocks and other pelagic species, which help make fisheries the second pillar of the Seychelles economy, eastward and out of and away from Seychelles’ waters. • Such phenomena, coupled with overfishing of certain species, have led to significant decreases in the availability of fish and a consequent sharp increase in prices. • Dr da Silva, the FAO’s Blue Growth Initiative is especially welcome here.
  5. SO WHAT PRIORITIES ARE SIDS ADOPTING TO ADDRESS THE CHALLENGES THAT EXTREME CLIMATE EVENTS AND OTHER CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS POSE TO THE MANAGEMENT OF OUR NATURAL RESOURCES AND TO FOOD SECURITY, NUTRITION AND LIVELIHOODS IN OUR ISLANDS? • The IPCC 5th Assessment Report highlights that adaptation to climate change generates larger benefits to small islands when delivered in conjunction with other development activities, such as disaster risk reduction (DRR) and community based approaches to development. • Disaster risk reduction can address immediate threats within a short to medium term and build resilience in agricultural systems. Seychelles has accordingly, with the support of the World Bank, put in place the necessary policies and legislation to address DRR and build resilience. • Another priority is to build capacity to prepare for and respond to disasters and to adapt to climate change. This includes putting into place national preparedness and response plans. • All this requires the establishment of a national institutional framework to coordinate actions and build resilience. • We also need to put into place financial mechanisms to fund increasingly costly recovery efforts, and, insurance mechanism for farmers and fishers. This is what the extremely difficult climate change negotiations on loss and damage – which I’m proud to say are actually an initiative of the SIDS-are all about, but SIDS cannot afford to wait for this to play out. The message from super typhoon Haiyan to us, to our international partners and to the international community as a whole is that it needs to happen now. • And we should, of course, also identify good practices and lessons learned and build on these.
  6. Partnerships In this area too partnerships can help, regional and national as well as international, in supporting SIDS in meeting our climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction needs. We need to break away from the silo type of management to build better connectivity between various national organisations and agencies. • The multi-disciplinary and integrated nature of adaptation interventions requires partnerships between ministries and agencies responsible for agriculture, fisheries and forestry and for addressing climate change. Here regional climate centres can help advance the enabling environment and access specific technical and analysis support for mainstreaming climate change concerns into national policies and plans. • Creative partnerships can help mainstream disaster risk reduction and climate change adaption in development plans, e.g. through marine spatial planning and debt-for-adaptation swaps. • We have to create local community platforms involving everyone. The IPCC report highlighted the need to upscale community based adaptation (CBA) and disaster risk reduction (CBDRR) to reduce vulnerability and the risks that SIDS face.
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