Small and vulnerable developing countries will see their trade sectors badly hit by the effects of climate change, a new study by the Commonwealth says.
The study, ‘Trade, Climate Change and Sustainable Development: Key Issues for Small States, Least Developed Countries and Vulnerable Economies’, was conducted by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD).
It notes that these countries are most vulnerable to the impact of climate change, and this will adversely affect their key trade sectors, including agriculture, fisheries, forestry and tourism.
Speaking at the launch of the study on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen on 11 December 2009, Janet Strachan, the head of the Commonwealth’s Small States and Economic Management and Environment work, said that the Commonwealth has a long standing interest in the development of small states and developing countries, noting that for such countries, trade is their lifeline.
“These countries are amongst the most open and trade-dependent in the world. To speak about their trade sectors, is to speak about their economic well-being,” she said.
Strachan said that study was informed by the fact that the trade concerns of these countries in relation to climate change had not been clearly examined.
“We were aware that policy-makers in small and highly vulnerable countries needed solid background information to enable them to make informed choices, and that is what this study aims to do,” she said.
Small states and least developed countries are least responsible for climate change Strachan said, yet they face the greatest vulnerability, not just in physical terms, but economically and socially.
“They are major impact takers, not impact makers, in climate change. This study shows that small states and least developed countries have a unique set of concerns that need to be addressed”
The study notes that small and vulnerable countries will need to build climate resilience in their trade sectors through diversification, provision of insurance for farmers and small and medium enterprises.
It also calls for use of modern and sustainable agricultural and fishing practices.