Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Experts assess trade and climate concerns of small developing nations

Commonwealth News and Information Service (London) 2008-09-04

The relationship between development, trade, and climate change has increasingly been under the spotlight, particularly now as leaders seek practical ways to move rapidly towards a low-carbon world economy.

Experts from Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) as well as the Indian Ocean are examining key issues in order to suggest steps that policy makers can take to begin the process of adapting their economies to climate change.

The two-day meeting took place in Mauritius on Tuesday and Wednesday (2-3 September 2008) where experts discussed a new study which examines both the needs and concerns of small developing nations which have largely been overlooked.

“People in small developing countries need clear information that will help them understand the opportunities and challenges they face with regard to climate change and trade policy, and to make informed choices about future investments”, said Janet Strachan, an Economic Adviser at the Commonwealth Secretariat.

The meeting is a joint initiative of the Commonwealth Secretariat and the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development, with the objective to explore new and rapidly emerging concerns that policy makers and enterprises need to work on to ensure that their economies are ready to address the challenges as well as take advantage of the opportunities.

The results of the meeting will be relayed to the Commonwealth Finance Minsters when they meet in St Lucia in October.

According to Vasantt Jogoo, Head of the Secretariat’s Small States, Environment and Economic Management section, “small states are highly dependent on trade, and are also particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts within key sectors of their economies like agriculture and tourism”.

“For small states, the way forward lies in building resilient, diverse and productive economies that can withstand international trade shocks as well as the projected impacts of climate change”, he said.

“This is a burden that has been placed on small states, and they need assistance in making these changes that have been imposed upon them. This meeting will be an important step in getting [and] placing the concerns of small developing countries on the table.”