World Environment Day - Raise Your Voice, Not the Sea Level

Blog Contributed by Yvonne Maingey, Tunza Youth Representative

In light of the future impacts of climate change, Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are faced with several water distribution and sourcing challenges. Ironically, SIDS such as Papua New Guinea are extremely water rich.

As a result of the ‘brain drain’ and limited funding for knowledge building
and sharing in the country, information on climate change and its impacts within the local community is lacking. Climate change is overwhelmingly viewed as a foreign-induced influence and as such, the international community should be responsible for addressing and understanding it. While there is a certain level of validity to this in that these islands are the least responsible for climate change (while they are the most affected), the urgency of the issue requires action on all parts of the spectrum – not just from the international community. It is imperative that mitigation is advocated through a grand reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions by developed countries, but at the same time, adaptation strategies to the inevitable and current climate change effects requires action by all key players (including the local community) in order to be sustainable.

 Arguably, capacity building will have a large part to play in this. Institutions in SIDS need well-educated and skilled manpower, work tools and favorable institutional environment to implement the objectives for which they have been established. In addition to ‘doing’, the institutions also need to be able to conceive new ideas to sustain life and to bring about purposeful change. This can only be assured through streamlined capacity building of the institutional manpower, which requires additional funds and time for projects.  Unfortunately, donor agencies and countries that are interested in fast results often disregard this.

SIDS must improve the performance of the public sectors if they are to achieve their goals of reducing poverty, accelerating economic growth, and providing better services to their citizens. Achievement of such improved performance will require countries to complement any reforms and projects with sustained acquisition of knowledge, skills and capability needed by an institution in its core activities to effectively manage change.

Finally, there is so much that needs to be done in order to improve water sourcing and distribution throughout the whole world – whether a developing island country or not, particularly as the effects of climate change actualize. But a radical change in behavior is key. Developed and developing countries alike need to address behavior change as pertinent to long term sustainability and capacity building will have a significant part to play in this.