Climate change is a major threat to sustainability, biodiversity, food security, and socioeconomic development and stability. It is essential for African countries to factor climate change into their sustainable development plans—indeed, development that does not address the environment is fundamentally unsustainable.
Although they have done the least to cause it, developing counties are the most sensitive to climate change. It threatens social and economic structures that are already strained by poverty; weak governance; and limited access to capital, infrastructure, and technology. But rather than spending their efforts placing blame on larger countries, the world’s least developed countries (LDCs) have banded together to make a significant impact on how the world addresses climate change going forward.
In its pursuit of a global transition to a sustainable growth trajectory that can mitigate and adapt to climate change, the UN has brought together 48 of the LDCs that are especially vulnerable to its effects. The group of LDCs will work together with two aims: first, to insist that wealthier nations take responsibility for creating the problem and address it, and second, to play a more prominent role in prevention efforts. Every year, a representative from one of the 48 LDCs is chosen to represent the group. In January, the newest Chair was announced: Class of 2014 ALN Member Giza Gasper Martins. Martins, an Angolan diplomat and currently Director of the Climate Change Department at Angola’s Ministry of Environment, said of his appointment: “Angola is honoured to represent the LDCs Group during this critical year. As the new Chair, I want to make sure this legacy is maintained. My team and I stand ready to engage constructively and proactively with other Parties [to the UN Climate Convention], and make LDC perspectives heard in all aspects of the discussions.”
Martins’ most pressing task in his new role will be to get consensus on a set of proposals representing the LDCs’ contribution to a global climate deal. Calling the set of proposals—a 90-page document—an “everybody text”, Martins must ensure that all member countries’ views are reflected in it. The proposals will then be integrated into the larger UN climate agreement.
In recent years, the benefits of proactively addressing climate change to drive economic sustainability and prosperity have become more tangible. Now is the time for leaders to see sustainable development as a means for driving economic prosperity for all—and we are excited that an ALN member is one of these leaders tackling this issue head-on.