UN-HABITAT’s Executive Director, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, is scheduled to visit Bali, Indonesia where the agency will hold a seminar to explain the how closely climate change is linked to cities.
At the dawn of a new urban era with most of humanity now living in cities, UN-HABITAT is at the frontline of the battle against fast growing poverty in cities, rapid urbanisation, unemployment, disasters and the scourge of climate change that is caused by cities and hurts them most. The agency has been closely involved in helping rebuild in several countries in Asia where people lost their homes and livelihoods after a string of natural disasters.
On the eve of the 13th Session of the Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, youth delegates said they hoped that the two weeks of intensive climate negotiations would chart a new climate change agreement to replace the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.
“This conference gives hope to developing countries because it draws attention to the problem of global warming," said Ditya Aditya, 23. "But it is important that those attending don’t just sit and talk - they need to take action.”
As the talks started, Indonesia’s Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar said his country as an island nation, is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, especially a rise in sea levels of as little as a metre.
“Tens of millions of people would have to move out of their homes…the cost would be very high. It is not just about building better infrastructure, but we have to relocate people and change the way people live,” he said citing the related problems of greater food insecurity, a loss of livelihoods, migration flows, economic loss, and higher numbers of internally displaced persons.
According to Wayan Sumardika, 24, “since the year 2000, there are more floods in North Sumatra. I don’t know if there is a relationship between the floods and global warming, but the floods are affecting my people… we can no longer support ourselves like before."
Governments aim to reach a new global consensus on the implementation of climate change mitigation and adaptation policies with a target date of 2009 for concluding an outcome. A strong agreement should integrate efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions, boost economic growth, and eradicate poverty.
Youth delegates said they hoped it would take into account the implications of climate change not only for this generation, but for generations to come.
"We need this conference because global warming is getting worse...if we do not do something preventative now, I don't think we can save the world," Dian Isnaini, 22.