On the sidelines of a recent presentation he made in Bangkok on
disaster prevention and preparedness, IRIN spoke to Jan Egeland, deputy
director of Human Rights Watch, about progress on the Global Framework
for Climate Services (GFCS).
by the World Meteorological Organization and based on research from an
expert group Egeland chaired in 2009, GFCS aims to increase and improve
interactions between experts who interpret, gather and purvey
climate-related information (climate service providers) and the people
who use it.
Q: How far has GFCS come in making climate information accessible for the average small farmer?
The main problem of global climate services today is that it doesn’t
reach the last mile to those who need it the most. So, typically, the
farmer who needs to know when to sow or when to harvest in an
unpredictable climate doesn’t really get that… More often he doesn’t
get the information if he is in a poor and developing country, nor does
the doctor who would need to know when malaria will [be] affected by
rainfall, or meningitis [by] the course of the wind.
It is also
mixed how far the countries come in disaster… There is a big difference
from even Vietnam to Cambodia to Nepal in that matter. Some countries
are making big headway like China, India, Vietnam and Thailand… But
it’s too slow. I am frustrated… We are not making faster progress.
Science has come so far and there is so much you can predict now.
What are the chief obstacles to linking climate change adaptation and
disaster risk management for sustainable poverty reduction?
Clearly the explosive growth in the number of natural disasters is one
of the biggest obstacles in poverty reduction. We have seen an increase
of natural disasters from around a 100 in [the] 1960s to nearly 500 per
year in this decade, so it is [a] four- nearly five-fold increase... It
means devastation of some of the poorest countries. It means massive
displacement of people.
Q: In addition to climate services, what else is still needed to prepare people to adapt to climate variability?
We need to curb climate change. Many believe we are in the same boat,
[that] we are equally hit by climate change, which is not true… Norway
is not going to get hit by climate change for some time. But if you go
to Sahel, go to the coast of Southeast Asia and you see… It’s the
number of disasters that has increased dramatically... Monsoons and
typhoons have grown tremendously.
In Vietnam, they are talking
about one metre of sea rise, which would be a complete disaster for the
whole Mekong Delta. So we need to curb climate change, and here it is
just horrendous to see that it is not happening… In [climate change]
adaptation we could be able to do more… Quite a bit is happening...
Science is making big progress but not reaching the final point and
that’s a big challenge.