Last week, more than 100 nations converged in Bonn to attend the 23rd “conference of parties” (COP23) on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The focus of this year’s conference was to develop a rulebook to implement the Paris Agreement.
Myanmar, as a member of the “least developed countries” group, sought technical and financial assistance from developed nations that have committed billions of dollars for the adaptation and mitigation efforts of developing nations.
The Myanmar delegation, led by U Hla Maung Thein, director general of the Natural Resource and Environmental Conservation Ministry, told the conference in a statement that his country suffered flooding in 2016 and severe flooding in 2015. Being a poor country, Myanmar needs financial and technological support to address the losses and damage, it said.
After Cyclone Nargis in 2008 and widespread flooding in 2015, Myanmar was named one of the three most vulnerable countries in the Global Climate Risk Index for 2018, which was based on the deaths from extreme weather from 1997 to 2016.
David Eckstein, a co-author of the report, told reporters from Myanmar during COP23 that governments should identify the most vulnerable communities and help them build resilience to extreme weather.
In Myanmar, communities that are prone to damage from extreme weather are mainly in coastal areas of Tanintharyi and Ayeyarwady regions and Rakhine State.
A shorter monsoon period and larger rainfalls have also caused flooding. The floods of 2015 caused 132 deaths, displaced an estimated 1.6 million people and caused property damage worth an estimated 3.1 percent of Gross Domestic Product for 2014-2015.
Myanmar’s position is clear that adaptation and building resilience to unforeseen challenges posed by climate change remain the country’s top priorities. It is committed to efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation by means of conservation and forest management. At the Bonn conference Myanmar’s delegation called on developed nations to support efforts toward this end with technical expertise and funding.
Like many developing countries, Myanmar realises that development in the broad sense of the word may have environmental costs. But it is also important for the country to have balanced actions on adaptation and mitigation. Therefore, developed nations should provide more financial and technical support.
In terms of seeking funding for climate change projects, developing nations are facing enormous challenges due to the stringent criteria. For instance, the Green Climate Fund, one of the largest, backed by developed nations with US$10 billion, has a total of nine criteria which are quite difficult for developing nations to meet. Admittedly, the criteria are necessary for effective funding of good projects. However, there should be some expediency at work to ensure that poor countries will be able to receive money for their efforts to cope with extreme climate change consequences.