The effects of climate change know no borders and do not have the same impact everywhere. That is why climate protection is playing an increasingly important role in development cooperation today. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, the current challenges of food security and access to clean water are exacerbated by the problem of climate change. In Burkina Faso, the Swiss cooperation programme therefore promotes water-saving drip irrigation to ensure agricultural productivity. In countries such as Indonesia and Ghana, Switzerland is supporting a World Bank initiative aimed at the sustainable use and conservation of the rainforest.
Opening the Annual Development Cooperation Conference held at the Arena in Geneva by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), FDFA State Secretary Yves Rossier emphasised how this phenomenon is fundamentally changing our environment. He stated that climate change will transform our societies and presents one of the greatest challenges that humanity has ever known.
The head of the SECO's Economic Cooperation and Development Division, Beatrice Maser, also noted that development cooperation is called upon to systematically consider the dimension of climate change in its operations, and stressed the key role played by the private sector in financing measures to tackle climate change in developing countries.
Several speakers, including Dr Rajendra K Pachauri, Chairperson of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), outlined a sustainable future, focusing in particular on the threat to the food supply posed by climate change in India and Tanzania, possible solutions offered by eco-industrial parks, for example in Vietnam, and public-private funding to improve climate protection globally.
Participating for the last time at the annual conference as director-general of the SDC, Martin Dahinden also gave a speech in which he insisted that tackling poverty requires both the protection of natural resources and a healthy economy. Referring to Voltaire's "Candide, ou l'Optimisme" published in Geneva, he reiterated the need for optimism in development, rejoicing that "for the first time in the history of humanity, the eradication of absolute poverty is a realistic goal". For this to materialise however, it is essential to “develop global policies and work with players in the private sector. We have to think and act together in new ways,” he added. Only by taking such steps will we be able to understand problems as complex as climate change as a whole.
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