Joint agreement necessary on climate change in Greater Mekong

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Xinhua, October 5, 2009
Adjust font size:

A report released Monday by an international NGO called for Asia's first regional climate change adaptation agreement in the Greater Mekong region, which, as one of the regions with richest biological diversity on Earth, is already strongly affected by climate change.

"Greater regional cooperation and coordination among Mekong nations is necessary to best cope with the impacts of climate change. Maintaining ecosystem health across borders and over a larger areas is likely the most cost efficient and effective long term adaptation strategy available" said Geoffrey Blate, Climate Change Coordinator for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in this region.

The WWF report, The Greater Mekong And Climate Change: Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Development at Risk, stressed that the region, an area of 600,000 km comprising Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and southwest provinces of China, is to undergo major changes due to climate change.

This region provides home and life source to over 300 million local people. But it is also one of the most vulnerable places when exposed to climate change, especially because of its extensive coastlines and major deltas that are barely above mean sea level, said the report, which is launched during the UN Climate Change Talks in Bangkok.

"Even small increases in global sea levels can cause large- scale devastation, when monsoon winds combine with high tides creating storm surges leading to greater inundation," it said.

Already sea level rise is threatening the region's coastal communities and changes to the climate are stressing ecosystems. Land is being lost in coastal zones, glacial melting in the Himalayas may impact the region's major river flows, and wetlands will either dry up or flood out, according to the report.

Climate change is also expected to directly affect bio- diversity of this area, where over 1000 new species were discovered in just ten years. This region may see shifts in species distributions with potentially major effects on ecosystem structure, composition and processes, and possible massive extinctions.

The report suggests, therefore, that a joint adaptation agreement be reached by the governments of the region as an essential first task to address climate change and to get more prepared for the inevitable impacts of it.

The agreement should, it said, emphasize ecosystem-based adaptation approaches that maintain the resilience of the region; strengthen existing governance structures and ensure participation of all stakeholders in preparing for climate change; act now to use existing knowledge to address climate change; include mitigation in adaptation strategies; and ensure adequate resources are available for adaptation initiatives.

But the report stresses that without decisive action on a global scale it would be very hard to avoid the worst impacts. It urges politicians to strike an ambitious and fair agreement on a climate treaty at upcoming talks in Copenhagen.

"Rich and developed nations must make deep emission cuts and commit to significant financial help to assist vulnerable regions such as the Greater Mekong," said Kim Carstensen, Director of WWF Global Climate Initiative.

The report was launched on the sidelines of the ongoing UN Climate Change Talks here from September 28 to October 9, the second-to-last round of talks series in this year which will lead to the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference.

PrintE-mail Bookmark and Share


No comments.

Add your comments...

  • Your Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
Send your storiesGet more from