Monday, 10  March 2003  
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Developing countries vulnerable to climate change - Experts

by Florence Wickramage

The three-day International Expert Conference on "Climate Change and Sustainable Development" of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded in Colombo on Friday with a Public Symposium where the highlights of the consultation was shared with the public.

The experts meeting noted that poorer developing countries would suffer more from the impacts of extreme weather events and that developing countries like Sri Lanka was highly vulnerable to the consequences of climate change. Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman IPCC addressing a media briefing before the concluding sessions said that the meeting was in the process of developing the Fourth Assessment Report which would encompass within its structure integration of key linkages between climate change and development (including poverty and equity issues).

Dr. Pachauri also said that if steps are not taken to address the main contributory factor, namely greenhouse gases (GHGs) the global temperature could increase causing a sea-level rise by about 50 cm by 2100.

Though Sri Lanka has been traditionally a model of sustainable development, there are factors within, which are extremely vulnerable to the future impacts of climate change and needs to be addressed.

Prof. Mohan Munasinghe, Vice Chairman of IPCC and Energy Advisor to the Government of Sri Lanka said that there were five sensitive areas for Sri Lanka which would have an impact due to Climate Changes,i.e. Crops and Agriculture; Water Resources; Coastal Zones with potential sea level rise where erosion will be under threat; Extreme Weather situations with increased possibility of more droughts; Vulnerability to Malaria and other water-borne diseases.

Professor Munasinghe also noted that Sri Lanka on its part have already taken steps to cope with Climate Change impacts to the development sectors such as agriculture, plantations, forestry, tourism etc. through mitigation and adaptation.

Dr. Martin Parry and Dr. Bert Metz, Co-Chairmen respectively of Working Groups 2 and 3 of IPCC also addressed the media briefing.

The Expert Meeting was organised for the IPCC by the Munasinghe Institute for Development (MIND) and the Department of Meteorology.

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