New Organization to Focus on Humanitarian Impact of Climate Change

Former United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, calls climate change one of the most critical and threatening issues in the world today.  Annan Wednesday launched a new organization, the Global Humanitarian Forum.  He says the primary focus will be on the impact of climate change on the poor and most vulnerable. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from Geneva where the Forum is based.

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan says he has a line-up of world leaders, scientists, academicians and humanitarian experts who will pool their talents to help the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world adapt to climate change.

He says climate change is happening now and it is not limited to one part of the world.  It affects both rich and poor.

"We are all in the same boat, and we all need to come together to resolve it," Annan said. "One cannot be secure at the expense of the other.  And it is just a problem that we need to tackle…We need a two-pronged approach and they must move ahead concurrently.  Mitigation, that is curbing greenhouse gases and adaptation, making sure vulnerable communities are protected"  

Rajendra Pachauri is Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the organization that was awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize along with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.  Pachauri is on the forum's board. 

He says the poor and most vulnerable have no choice but to adapt to climate change.

"The inertia in the system is such that even if we were to stabilize the concentration of greenhouse gases and therefore temperatures on this planet to a reasonable level, the impacts of climate change will continue for a long time," Pachauri said. "In the case of sea-level rise, it will continue for decades, if not centuries or a millennium." 

Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at New York's Columbia University, is also on the Forum's board. He says some  places on the planet are already suffering from climate change.  He says successfully adapting is a matter of peace on earth.

"Many of the conflict-ridden, impoverished places on the planet, in the Horn of Africa, in Sudan, in other places, have as a source of the conflict, not the only source ever, but one of the factors, grave environmental stress, often water-stress related to climate change," Sachs said. "And this I think myself, is certainly the case in Darfur, Sudan." 

Sachs says Darfur is a region running out of water. He says the region's long-term decline in rainfall is linked to global climate change and is a major factor in the war, which has created a humanitarian disaster for millions of people.


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