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Prompt actions urged to adapt to climate change
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The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) urged communities across the globe to get to grips with adapting to climate change, saying the current deficit in adaptation makes it imperative to adapt now.

The UNEP made the appeal here on Tuesday at a press conference for issuing a report Assessments of Impacts and Adaptation to Climate Change (AIACC).

"Adapting to better manage current climate risks is an essential step towards adapting to future climates," said the AIACC project report.

The AIACC project is a global initiative developed in collaboration with the UNEP and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to advance scientific understanding of climate change vulnerabilities and adaptation options in developing countries.

The report underlines that factoring climate into development strategies is do-able, but that in some cases hard choices may have to be made.

"2007 has, as a result of the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), been a year in which the science of climate change has reached a finality -- it is happening, it is unequivocal," said Achim Steiner, U.N. under-secretary and UNEP executive director.

"2007 has also seen clear and cost effective strategies for cutting greenhouse gas emissions put on the table from improved energy efficiency in buildings to ones that address deforestation and agriculture," he added.

"One of the big missing links has been adaptation, both in terms of adaptive strategies and in terms of resources for vulnerable communities. This assessment, involving experts across the developed and developing world, lays a solid and much needed foundation -- a foundation upon which adaptation can become part of country development plans and built into international assistance including oversees development aid," said Mr. Steiner.

Monique Barbut, chief executive officer and chairperson of the GEF, said, "The GEF has a long history working with the world's most vulnerable countries that want environmentally-friendly ways to adapt to changing climate without sacrificing key development goals".

"As this wide sweeping assessment shows first hand, we are moving forward in a very focused way to weave adaptation strategies into daily practices," she added.

"Adaptation to climate hazards is not new," said leading author Neil Leary of the International START Secretariat in Washington D. C., who along with the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World in Trieste, Italy have executed the project.

"People have always been at risk from the climate and have continually sought ways of adapting. Still, variations and extremes of climate regularly exceed abilities to cope, too often with devastating effect, and give evidence of what has been called an adaptation deficit," he said.

"Reducing emissions of the gases that cause climate change is necessary. But adaptation is necessary too," he added.

The report makes recommendations for climate change adaptation, including creating conditions to enable adaptation, integrating adaptation with development, increasing awareness and knowledge, strengthening institutions, protecting natural resources, providing financial assistance, involving those at risk, and using place-specific strategies.

The AIACC project was implemented over the period 2001-2007 and 24 assessments were executed in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Small Island States. Multi-institutional teams of more than 300 scientists, stakeholders and students from 50 developing countries conducted the assessments.
(Xinhua News Agency December 4, 2007)

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