What do the Least Developed Countries want from COP21?

News, 25 November 2015
A series of nine new interviews brings together different voices from the world's Least Developed Countries to ask what they want from COP21 in Paris.

Political leaders, experts and civil society representatives from the Least Developed Countries (Image: IIED)

For the world's Least Developed Countries (LDCs), the outcome of the Paris climate talks (COP21) is crucial. Ahead of COP21 in Paris, IIED's LDC Independent Expert Group (IEG) has commissioned a series of interviews with political leaders, experts and civil society representatives in nine of these countries to hear about the situation they face, and their hopes for a Paris deal.

The Least Developed Countries have contributed little to the global tally of greenhouse gas emissions, but many have submitted plans ahead of the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties in Paris (COP21), detailing their intended actions on climate change (INDCs). 

Thato Kostabole, from Lesotho NGO LCN, describes how drying river systems, aggravated by the current El Niño conditions, mean a shortage of drinking water for livestock and an increased risk of disease. With seven in 10 people in the country dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods, there is a need for emergency action as well as longer terms solutions, such as investment in the promotion of more resilient farming techniques.

Negash Teklu, from Population, Health, Environment Ethiopia, talks about Ethiopia's ambitions for a zero carbon economy by 2025, highlighting plans for industrial development based on renewable sources of energy.

The Minister for Environment, Climate Change, Water, Parks and Wildlife in The Gambia, Pa Ousman Jarju, highlights the importance of finance to support the most vulnerable countries in adapting to the changing climate – and says that while South-South cooperation is becoming increasingly important, this cannot and should not be seen as an alternative to rich country support. 

The Prime Minister of Bhutan, Tshering Tobgay, warns that a 1.5 degree target for warming is needed for the LDCs because adapting to a two-degree rise is not affordable.

Voices from Haiti (available in English and French), Mali, Bangladesh (including video), Uganda (including video) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) (available in English and French) raise the specific issues facing their countries from the challenges of responding across sectors, the economic impacts and the costs of implementing the necessary changes, and related issues around loss and damage.

Commissioned by IEG member and Ugandan journalist Rosebell Kagumire, the interviews show the range of experiences and the challenges faced by these countries, as well as the level of action and commitment to the problem. 

She explained that the aim was to provide a platform for voices that often go unheard as bigger players dominate the global stage.

"Often the debate on climate change and its implications is not fully democratised," she said. "I saw this as an opportunity to get experts from some of the most vulnerable countries to state the case for their countries and communities and to tell us what is really at stake. They fill the gap between debates and actions at global negotiations and the local communities who face the most challenges." 

As Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay highlights in his video interview, governments in Paris must rise above national interests and look to a global response: "Climate change or global warming is a global problem that requires a global solution.

"It should not be between the rich and poor. All of us must come together and play our bit to fight climate change and limit global warming."

Kagumire also spoke to Evans Njewa, a climate negotiator from Malawi and the lead negotiator for LDCs and for African countries on finance, on the sideline of the recent fifth Conference on Climate Change and Development in Africa (CCDA) in Zimbabwe.

Members of the Independent Expert Group will be at COP21 in Paris. Follow their updates on the talks on Twitter via @LDCexperts.