Climate Vulnerable Forum
||This article may require copy editing for grammar, style, cohesion, tone, or spelling. (November 2013)|
Climate Vulnerable Forum
|-||Chair||Costa Rica (2013–)|
|-||Previous Chairs||Bangladesh (2011–2013) Kiribati (2010–2011)|
|-||Founding Chair||Maldives (2009–2010)|
|-||Malé Declaration||10 November 2009|
The Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) is a global partnership of countries that are disproportionately affected by the consequences of global warming. The Forum addresses the negative effects of global warming as a result of heightened socio-economic and environmental vulnerabilities. These countries are actively seeking a firm and urgent resolution to the current intensification of climate change, both domestically and internationally.
The CVF was formed as a means to increase the accountability of industrialized nations for the consequences of global climate change. It also aims at exerting additional pressure for action to tackle the challenge, which includes local actions performed by countries deemed susceptible. Political leaders involved in this global partnership are described as “using their status as those most vulnerable to climate change to punch far above their weight at the negotiating table”. The governments that founded the CVF agree to national commitments in pursuit of low-carbon development and carbon neutrality.
The CVF was founded during the early stages of the Maldives government, prior to the United Nations Copenhagen Summit in late 2009. This summit sought to heighten awareness and the overall presence of countries considered vulnerable. Eleven governments from Africa, Asia, the Americas and the Pacific that represent some of the countries most vulnerable to climate change met near the Maldives capital of Malé in November 2009. Here, these governments and signed the CVF into action by making a declaration that expressed alarm at the pace of change and damages as a result of global warming. The declaration stated that these conditions are “an existential threat to our nations, our cultures and to our way of life,” and therefore, “undermine the internationally-protected human rights of our people.”
A group of countries that emit small amounts of greenhouse gases took the initiative to enact the CVF Declaration. They pledged to commit in leading the world into a low-carbon, and ultimately carbon-neutral economy. The CVF recognized the need for international support to achieve these objectives within vulnerable countries. A number of these countries’ leaders are key figures in the CVF, which includes Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed. These vulnerable countries captured significant media attention at the Copenhagen Summit, where they were involved in closed negotiations with leaders of global powers such as the U.S. and China. The CVF Declaration committed to achieve a concentration of no more than 350 ppm (parts-per-million) of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere, and limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius or below in reference to pre-industrial levels. This was later adopted as a position by the Alliance of Small Island States. Antigua, Barbuda, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Marshall Islands and Samoa also followed Maldives as developing countries committed to aggressive national low-carbon development if not carbon neutrality.
The founding countries pledged to demonstrate moral leadership and commence greening their economies by voluntarily committing to achieve carbon neutrality.[dead link] They called upon all countries to follow the moral leadership shown by Maldives, which was the first country to pledge to achieve carbon neutrality. Maldives also made a mark in the public sphere by holding an Underwater Cabinet Meetingon the dangers of sea level rise caused by global warming.
Maldives was the first chair of the CVF from 2009 to 2010.
Kiribati was the succeeding chair of the CVF from 2010 to 2011.
During its leadership, Kiribati hosted the Tarawa Climate Change Conference, from November 9 to 11, 2010, where the Ambo Declaration was signed by 12 countries: Kiribati, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, the Republic of the Maldives, Cuba, Brazil, Fiji, Japan, China, the Marshall Islands, New Zealand and Australia.
In May of 2013, a follow-up statement about the 2010 conference, and the agreements reached there was made which indicated disappointment, and questioned if focusing on two new provisions (greenhouse gas emissions and climate change), would better serve their goals.
Nineteen climate-vulnerable countries supported the Declaration and was adopted in Dhaka on November 14, 2011.
Twenty governments have participated in the CVF from a variety of key developing regions throughout the world.
In 2009, the following countries adopted the first declaration: Bangladesh, Barbados, Bhutan, Ghana, Kenya, Kiribati, Maldives, Nepal, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Vietnam
In 2011, the following countries adopted the second declaration: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Kiribati, Madagascar, Maldives, Nepal, Philippines, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Tanzania, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Vietnam.
Australia, China, Denmark, Democratic Republic of the Congo, European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, United Kingdom and United States.
The CVF established a trust fund in September 2012 that is administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). United Nations agencies collaborate in implementing activities linked to the CVF with the UNDP, a lead organization that supports the Forum's work. DARA, an independent nonprofit organization based in Madrid, has previously provided institutional support to the CVF.
Climate Vulnerability Monitor
The CVF and DARA published the Climate Vulnerability Monitor, "The State of the Climate Crisis," in December 2010. This global study covered 184 countries effect by the short-term impacts of climate change in four key areas, including health, weather disasters, habitat loss and economic stress.
A second edition of the Climate Vulnerability Monitor was published in September 2012, titled "A Guide to the Cold Calculus of a Hot Planet." It expanded on the first report’s analysis, describing 34 indicators of positive and negative effects estimated to result as consequences of climate change.
The CVF establishes a scholarly conversation within itself. The purpose of the Forum is to channel inputs from the most vulnerable groups into creating new policies and promoting effective action on climate change as it evolves. The Forum is recognized as a striking voice on international climate change issues.
Tim Worstall, an economic blogger and critic of the CVF, criticizes the Forum's work for failing to consider all sides of the issue by focusing solely on the costs of climate change, and the detrimental effects of various economic and technological activities. Worstall suggests an unbiased approach that considers both the costs and benefits, asking the question, “Are we going to be better off without climate change, or without fossil fuels?"
However, the Forum's latest Climate Vulnerability Monitor does specifically state the costs and benefits of action by addressing climate change versus a continuation of current trends in the globally fossil fuel intensive, economic pathway. The analysis relies on Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) greenhouse gas emission projections, and studies that show carbon-intensive energy means, which indicate 10-100 times the level of negative externalities when compared to climate safe alternatives.
Scholarly discussion regarding climate vulnerability and the meaning of vulnerability, itself, is more subjective, leading to a separate, yet closely linked debate. There are clear discrepancies between how different countries deal with climate change, leading to dissent about how the issue should be handled on an international level. Arising questions include “are countries with better economic standing responsible for helping less privileged countries deal with climate change?” According to a spokesperson from the Climate and Development Knowledge Network, climate vulnerability is an issue of “equity and human rights,” determined by the combination of climate change’s effect on a given nation's environment, and the level of that nation’s preparedness and available resources to deal with the challenges and changes.
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Our experience has not been entirely optimistic. After the Copenhagen meeting, there was a lot of disappointment. Much of our disappointment was based on our high expectations of what the outcomes might be. Like any major international treaty, it doesn’t happen overnight, or even after a couple of years or even ten years. I think we have major treaties in place which took decades to conclude. With the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, I don’t think we’ll conclude until we change our approach. It’s always been my contention that we’re dealing with too much detail in a document that’s highly controversial because the issues are very critical to different countries at different levels of development. My view has been to agree on a broad document and then deal with issues on a piecemeal basis. Unless we do that, our hopes for success are very dim.
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- Georgetown Climate Center
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