In an effort to increase awareness of climate change and its devastating effects internationally, the Sustainable Energy & Economy Network at the Institute for Policy Studies hosted a gathering yesterday here in Washington that brought light to the connection between global warming and the disproportionate impact felt by developing and impoverished nations.
Organized by the Climate Equity Campaign, the program featured Nnimmo Bassey of the Friends of the Earth of Nigeria and Mina Susana Setra of the Indigenous Peoples' Alliance of the Archipelago of Indonesia.
Both spoke to the damage, agriculturally and economically, done to their countries. Setra commented on the connection between the expansion of plantations in Indonesia for the extraction of palm oil and the extreme degradation and deforestation within the country. Environmental consequences in Nigeria are felt as well. Bassey explained how the exploitation of oil in his country has led to massive amounts of oil spills and the release of toxic chemicals into the atmosphere through gas flaring. According to Bassey, oil exploitation is not only detrimental to the climate and atmosphere, but also to the human rights of indigenous peoples around the world.
One of the key messages from both speakers was the need for change led by the United States. As Congress debates climate change legislation, the speakers say proposals for international adaptation funding from the US will only succeed in the presence of a well-established mechanism for the distribution and spending of those funds. As for the type of adaptation programs that should be instituted, Setra and Bassey suggested hydroelectric projects, reforestation and strengthening local governments to be the most vital.