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Improve decision making to cope with climate impacts - experts

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Wed, 19 Oct 2011 15:45 GMT
Author: Katie Murray
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LONDON (AlertNet) - Improving decision making processes and strategies will be essential for curbing the effects of climate-related disasters, climate and international development experts said this week.

Climate change policy making is difficult because climate change, itself, is complex, uncertain and its effects are not evenly dispersed around the world.  That suggests that countries should adopt a new approach of addressing climate impacts by focusing on strategies for effective decision making, according to a new report.

The report “breaks new ground (because it) focuses on the how, not the way,” said Olav Kjorven, director of the Bureau of Development Policy, part of the United Nations Development Programme.

According to the global insurance company Munich Re, there were 950 natural disasters in 2010, 90 percent of which were weather related.  Many occurred in poor nations that have contributed relatively little to carbon emissions that are driving climate change.

“Those who have done the least to the state of climate were the ones who were hit the hardest,” Kjorven said.  “It is imperative we pool our efforts to support the countries affected.”

The report, Decision Making in a Changing Climate, released Tuesday, includes case studies and information from over 100 experts in 35 countries and focuses on a range of elements key to decision making, including public engagement.

Diplomats sitting in Geneva are not the right people to decide what needs to happen “in places like rural Zambia,” Andrew Steer, special envoy for climate change at the World Bank, emphasised during a telephone press conference on the report.

Public engagement can help governments define needs and choose among priorities effectively, and produce more sustainable results, the report said.

To effectively participate in creating good climate change policies, however, people in developing countries need access to sufficient accurate information - something governments must help provide, the report notes.

Farmers, for instance, armed with better information on the state of water resources and with farming tips based on weather changes could implement more efficient farming strategies, said Manish Bapna, interim president of the World Resources Institute, a Washington-based think tank.

The report aims to help people “make smart choices and ensure that decision making is effective,” Bapna said.

Katie Murray is an AlertNet Climate intern.

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