Les risques du métier

november 24, 2007

European Development Days: We are suffering because of you”

Filed under: Europa,Europe,Journalism — Lien @ 8:50
Tags: , , , ,

How political strategy from the North annoys the South

by Lien De Leenheer

Knokke

Deep into Africa a man sees a girl next to a lake. She is throwing little fish into the water. Around her are standing hundreds of buckets full of these fish. The man stops and asks: “What are you doing?” She looks up, surprised, and tells him she wants to save them. He frowns, “But you will never manage to save them all.” “Thank you sir for your answer”, she answers. She is clearly irritated and continues her activity. From her mouth she mumbles: “This one will make it, this one will make it, and this one will make it.”

With this story Nigerian Ndidi Nnoli Fdozien of Growing Businesses Foundation (GBF) expresses the distinct difference between the way the North and the South look at climate change and its influence on developing countries. Where in the North the emphasis is on “how to exhaust less carbon dioxide”, the South addresses the international community with an emotional message: “People are dying in Africa on a daily basis. If you do not take your responsibility as industrialized countries, more and more people will die. We who contribute the less to global warming are forced to deal with the biggest consequences.”

Managing Director at Deloitte and former Minister of Privatisation of Niger, Mahamadou Sako: “The world is as round as a football. We all live on this football, climate change does not need a visa, it travels freely. When we play with the football it will deflate anyway, but we can give it air again. But if we ignore the ball while he is lying in the corner it will shrink totally.”

A common heard complaint is that Europe and the rest of the industrialised countries are chatting too much about possible strategies but in the end actions are not taken. Kofi Annan, former UN Secratry-General: “The best promises are the promises that are kept.” Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), spoke very frankly at the European Development Days: “Yes, the North is doing efforts. But, if you look at the kind of funds they invest in, you know that their priority is reducing greenhouse gas emissions quotas per capita, often by buying clean air abroad, and only a small percentage of their budget goes towards investment in adaptation incentives and innovative technologies.”

Marc Buys, advisor-general of the ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belgium, puts it even more bluntly: “It is all very nice that European countries are showing off their willingness to give 0.7% of their GDP to development. But the truth is that this percentage is based on information from the sixties. Back then the studies showed that 1% of the GDP of the wealthiest countries could help the development of the developing countries. The consensus was that 30% of the investment had to come from private sources thus the other 70% would be provided by the governments. We are now 2007 and only from 2012 on some of the countries will spend 0.70% of their GDP on development. Even though that percentage is not up to date anymore and is not taking into account new emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil.”

In regard to these new developed countries a lot of worries are expressed. Théodore Skylakakis, Secretary General for Development of the Ministery of Foreign Affairs of Greece: “It is vital that the first decisions in the development path of these economies are good ones. We have to prevent the use of carbon intensive buildings, roads and other infrastructure. This can only be done with incentives and a clear political message.”

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