CVF Common Space session summary

Common Space session for Common Space for CVF member States, observer and non-state stakeholders
Climate Vulnerable Forum 13 November, 2011 

From left to right, Stefan Priesner, Ross Mountain, Mary Chinery-Hesse, Dr. Quazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, Dr. Saleemul Huq, Shahidul Haque


  • Dr. Quazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, Coordinator of Bangladesh Climate Change Negotiation Team
  • Ms. Mary Chinery-Hesse, Panel of the Wise of the African Union

Presentations by:

  • Mr. Saleem al Huq, Senior Fellow at the Climate Change Group, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)
  • Mr. Shahidul Haque, International Organization for Migration (IOM)
  • Mr. Ross Mountain, Director General of DARA
  • Mr. Stefan Priesner, Country Director of the United Nations Development Programme-Bangladesh

Dr. Quazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad introduced the Common Space introducing the format and content of the Common Room. He stressed the purpose was to unite the voice of those countries whose people are on the frontline of the impact of climate change.
Dr. Ahmad reiterated that while Climate Change is a global issue, the effects are felt disproportionately, and felt the strongest by those who are not only most vulnerable, but have also historically had the smallest role in causing the climate change challenges we are facing.

Ms. Mary Chinery-Hesse continued the introduction by explaining that the CVF is a family that this event has brought together, and that we are dealing with an issue that is global but also national and sub-national. It was emphasised that the poor are those who feel the effects of Climate Change the strongest, as they are made even poorer by losing their livelihood. In the past Climate Change has been presented as a problem of the future, but we are feeling the consequences here and now. We must be bale to generate a discussion that keeps our passion to make a difference alive.

Mr. Saleem al Huq began his presentation on the topic of Evidence on Climate Change and Vulnerability in particular nexus between climate change and displacement. He recalled his speaking role in Malé two years ago. Building upon this he provided a history of the science of climate change, illustrating the evolution of climate change negotiation, mentioning on the relevance of both the mitigation and adaptation approaches to climate change. There was a focus on the need to think outside of the box in order to move past the impasse we currently experience in Climate Change negotiation. He concluded by urging those attending to become Climate Resilient and embrace Low Carbon Development, so that all may move towards a greener, more equitable and more sustainable path.

Mr Shahidul Haque followed on this topic with his presentation. Calling attention to the issue of migration. Recalling that high exposure to Climate Change and with little power to adapt or mitigate, people will be forced to migrate. This forced migration brings with it a host of problems such as legal status, the marginalisation of land, lack of resources and forced displacement. In order to move forward a number of requirements must be fulfilled, on issues such as mobilising resources and high level political commitment.

During the open floor a number of responses to the presentations were heard.

Dr. Attiq Ahman stated that there is a clear moral case for Climate Change and that the real tragedy of Climate Change Negotiation is that those with the financial capability and resources make the rules whilst the poor are suffering due to inaction. He reiterated the concept of Low Carbon Development as mentioned by Mr. Saleem al Huq.

Mr. Damene from Ethiopia explained that Climate Change is the greatest economic, social and environmental challenge of our time, and that we must find a way in which to improve the lives of our peoples without increasing greenhouse gases.

Mr. Liberal Segurikoko spoke out in favour of action. He elaborated that it is high time the CVF nations assert their rights – this is about survival. Leadership is about action, and that we must take it upon ourselves to fulfil this role.

Following these comments on the open floor, Mr. Ross Mountain, Director General of DARA, introduced his presentation, falling under the second discussion topic of Challenges and opportunities for green growth in the specific context of CVF countries.

Mr. Mountain stated that DARA has tried to document and give a sense to the fact that Climate Change affects all countries. If we are to avoid the most severe of these problems we must change our trajectory, so that we may limit our global temperature increase to 1.5º Celsius.

The Country Director of UNDP Bangladesh, Mr. Stefan Priesner, focused on the concept of Green Human Development. Special focus was given on using methods that are win-win solutions, those that offer an increase in equity as well as sustainability. While there are key challenges, in order to move forward we must not only reach consensus, but also formal agreement.

Following these presentations the representative of Saint Lucia stated that we should not see a difference between mitigation and adaption, they should be treated as cyclical. Furthermore emphasis must be given to not only terrestrial environment but also marine environments.

The representative from Vanuatu explained how his nation is dependent on imported fuel for energy. While renewable energy offers a source of energy so that they may no longer be dependent upon imports, many nations lack the financial and technological support for green initiatives. They require faster access to green climate funds.

Concluding the session Ms. Mary Chinery-Hesse identified the key topics discussed, namely:

A paradigm shift is necessary, business as usual is not an option. This leads to the understanding that climate change is in the here and now, and must as such be dealt with now. The CVF nations must take the initiative and not wait for others to take action, whilst still being mindful that this is not a case of one size fits all, there are unique local challenges that we may deal with together. It must not be forgotten that central is the issue of equity, the poor are the hardest hit and the most vulnerable to climate change, furthermore women and children in particular suffer as a consequence. We must better represent the voice of all those affected by better integrating the participation of women in our future meetings and gatherings.