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Cape Verde Vulnerability to Climate Change Chronicled in Landmark Assessment
22/ 02/ 2012

Cape Verde Vulnerability to Climate Change Chronicled in Landmark AssessmentClimate change is not just a scientific issue for Cape Verde; it is a social and economic issue and ultimately it is about development and survival.

Nairobi/Praia, 21 February 2012 - Cape Verde presents a dual vulnerability to climate change, both as a small island developing State, and as an arid country in the Africa's Sahel region, and is already battling with increased pressure on scarce water resources, and more frequent extreme events.

The report on the Climate Change vulnerability assessment underlines the changes that are already taking place as a result of changes in whether patterns and lack of sound management and awareness. The report looks at how climate change, Population growth, development choices could shape and impact vital sectors such as water resources, tourism and agriculture, the nature-based assets of the country; and in turn, the changing environment is likely to affect the people of Cape Verde.

The Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Summary for Policy Makers was launched today in the margins of the Twelfth special session of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme (PNUE) taking place in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Minister for rural development of Cape Verde, in launching the Summary said: "It is a key contribution to the solid science that will inform and prompt sound policy actions. This report helps us realize how gaps and inconsistencies in our legal framework can be a source of vulnerability to the country. Laws are essential to encourage good practices and discourage actions that put people
at risk. We need policy decisions that respond to the multi-dimensioned challenges identified in this study as a matter of urgency".

The Summary for Policy Makers presents the main findings and policy options identified by the report on climate change vulnerabilities in in Cape Verde. The study, funded under the One UN Fund in Cape Verde, was led by the Government of Cape Verde, with support from the United Nations Country team, The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Enda Tiers Monde.

Main Findings and Key Concerns:

Cape Verde has dual vulnerability to climate change, both as a small island developing State, and as an arid country in the Sahel region.

Water resources are already extremely scarce with pressures increasing. Renewable water availability is only 537m3 per person per year in Cape Verde, the second lowest of any country in sub-Saharan Africa. Future rainfall trends are uncertain-increases and decreases are projected by different models. The population of Cape Verde has more than doubled in the past 50 years, and is estimated to include 491,875 inhabitants in 2010. At present, nearly half of the population lacks access to a public water supply, and over half lacks access in rural areas.

Extreme events have increased in frequency in Cape Verde. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has found it is very likely that heavy precipitation events will increase in frequency globally in the future, with associated impacts including increased risk of deaths, and damage to property and crops.

80% of Cape Verde's population lives in the coastal zone. Unregulated removal of sand from beaches for construction is eliminating one of Cape Verde's most important natural defenses.

The service sector has been the main engine of growth in Cape Verde, but is vulnerable to climate change. Tourist facilities are concentrated in the coastal zone of low-lying islands such as Sal and Boavista and many are vulnerable to sea-level rise and coastal hazards. Beaches on which the industry depends are threatened by sea-level rise and sand extraction. Agriculture, the main source of livelihood in Cape Verde, could be impacted by variability in rainfall and rising temperatures. Aquifers near the coast have been overexploited leading to saltwater intrusion into wells and salinization of farmlands.

Some of the policy options for action include:

Increasing water use efficiency

Climate change adaptation programmes focusing on poor and vulnerable populations

Reducing vulnerabilities in coastal zones

Making climate change a part of development planning

The report is accessible online on:

For More Information Please Contact:

Samba Harouna, Delivering as One Regional Coordinator, UNEP Regional office for Africa, ROA on Tel: + 254 20 762 4044; Mobile: + 254 0714636338; E-mail: Samba.

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