16 May 2019

Mauritius: Climate Change - Sometimes Always Never

opinion

Global experts, thinkers, practitioners, journalists, politicians and innovators are currently in Geneva to discuss the state of disaster risk across the globe. Many countries, especially those like Mauritius and Mozambique which are exposed to cyclones and floods, have still a long way to go to meet the Sendai Framework (2015-2030). Over and above translating Climate Change challenges into concrete budgetary terms, this international agreement/commitment sets four specific priorities for action:

1. Understanding disaster risk;

2. Strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk;

3. Investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience;

4. Enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response, and to «Build Back Better» in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction.

The United Nations Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) Global Platform meeting starts today and l'express/La Sentinelle is privileged to be at the table of discussions of those highly relevant issues and challenges facing our country and sub-region. Daily analysis and interviews will be shared so that our readers and policymakers are in the loop of this global conversation happening in a new age of big data, artificial intelligence, blockchain technologies and borderless connectivity. It is important that we, as a people, focus on such trends and technologies, especially when our politicians seem to be more engaged in petty politics and strategies to save their own personal interests.

Climate change is arguably the most pressing environmental issue facing humanity today. In fact, the current global economic slowdown, combined with climate change can potentially hamper and, in some countries, even reverse the political and economic gains that have been achieved in recent years. As governments seek to craft policy responses to these challenges, there is consensus that their success will also depend on the adaptability and preparedness to climate change and international platforms.

Nowadays, the causes of climate change are no longer a matter of contention. Scientific experts whom we are meeting over here in Geneva all posit climate change is driven by the Earth's natural cooling and heating cycles and carbon emissions, most of which emanate from industrialized countries.

African journalists expressed concern that in Africa the realities of climate change have induced two related human security challenges: food and water shortages (paradoxically despite increasing floods).

Little doubt now exists that human activities are causing an overall warming. Further, this warming has significant potential implications for agriculture, the spread of disease, sea level rise, polar ice, and biological diversity. At the same time, curbing climate change with minimum interference on the global economy and the need to continue raising the quality of life, particularly for the poor, will take creative and innovative law and policymaking at all levels. This is precisely why governments, private sectors, media and civil society must strive together, at the global level, to develop and promote innovative legal approaches to climate change, including approaches to carbon emissions trading, technology transfers, liability for climate change, and carbon financing.

The precise role that climate change plays in provoking security risks in Africa was the subject of some debate. While some argued that there is no direct scientific evidence linking climate change to conflict, there is general consensus that climate change has the potential to exacerbate local tensions and combine with other political factors to result in conflict. In addition to local-level tensions and conflict, climate change is depleting shared water resources along borders and has the potential to create tension between countries. Mark Twain was right: "Whiskey is for drinking, but water is for fighting."

Although Africa stands to suffer the most from climate change, it has contributed the least to its human induced causes. In particular, Africa's island countries stand to lose significant amounts of territory should ocean levels rise. This is why we can no longer sit and wait!

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