Climate-hit Countries: UN summit talks debt relief


The Daily Star, 06 December 2008
Pinaki Roy from Poznan, Poland

Bangladesh has demanded cancellation of overseas development assistance (ODA) debts of the least developed countries (LDCs) when they are affected by the adverse impacts of global climate change.

The country that uses no less than 18 percent of its total annual budget to pay off foreign debts, also demanded debt cancellation facilities for sectoral investments in countries affected by climate change.

The chief of a Bangladesh delegation raised the demands on behalf of LDCs in the ‘workshop on risk management and insurance’ at the 14th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 14) in Poznan, Poland.

Over a billion people of 100 countries face a bleak future due to the climate change, although those countries contributed the least to the causes of the change, a fact that provide them with the moral right to get compensations for the risks they are facing, the delegation argued.

In the workshop, delegates discussed mechanisms for risk management insurance. The delegates of LDCs demanded that developed countries pay the premium of the climate change insurance.

Focusing on relief and recovery, the current disaster risk management is based on post disaster assistance that varies depending on how much media coverage the disasters get and the locations of the victims, they said.

Mandated under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), the risk management insurance will be a kind of certainty for the vulnerable communities that they will be compensated.

The workshop discussed some existing insurance models like area based or individual farm based crop insurance, index based insurance for droughts and floods, Turkish Catastrophe Insurance Pool, and Mexico’s Natural Disaster Fund.

Bangladesh demanded start of a few pilot micro insurance projects and disaster index based insurance in each LDC with their premiums subsidised by international and national private sector sources.

“I raised at the workshop that insurance is not enough, there must be some link between ODA debt repayment and climate change insurance,” said AKM Rezaul Kabir, secretary to the Ministry of Forest and Environment also the leader of Bangladesh delegation.

The delegation argued, since the agriculture of LDCs is dominated by small holders, the coverage of the insurance will be like that of micro insurance involving small sums of money.

When asked about the concept of insurance, Md Reazuddin, director of the department of environment also a member of the Bangladesh delegation said, the concept is pretty new.

“A process is on to develop a mechanism for going forward with it,” he told The Daily Star yesterday.

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