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Posted on on May 25th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (

Meeting in Belize will develop adaptation strategies for Arctic and Small
Island Developing States.

When it comes to the earth’s changing climate, the people of the Arctic and
Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have a message for the world – the
time for action is now.

This message is supported by the recently released report by the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which highlights the
vulnerability of the polar regions and small island states to climate

These two regions, separated by geography, climate and culture, are united
by the fact that they are already feeling the dramatic effects of climate
change. Both regions are looking for ways to adapt, but on their own, they
may not be able to succeed. Strategic policy-relevant and community-driven
initiatives need to be addressed through collaboration.

“We need to focus our research efforts on local communities because
adaptation to climate change is a global concern with local manifestations,”
says Grete Hovelsrud, project leader for the Many Strong Voices Programme
and Research Director at CICERO.

From 27 to 30 May 2007, 40 stakeholders from the Caribbean, Alaska, Fiji,
Greenland, French Polynesia, and other locations in the Arctic and Small
Island Developing States (SIDS) will gather at a workshop in Belize. They
are part of the Many Strong Voices Programme, coordinated by the
UNEP/GRID-Arendal, based in Norway, the Center for International Climate and
Environment Research – Oslo (CICERO), the Caricom Climate Change Centre and
the Organization of American States’ Department of Sustainable Development.

The Many Strong Voices Programme was launched in late 2005 at a global
climate change meeting in Montréal, Canada. Its task is to bring together a
consortium of researchers, policy-makers, and organizations to advance
mutual learning and exchange of knowledge, research, and expertise on
climate change adaptation within and between the Arctic and the SIDS.

“When the programme was launched we were calling it ‘Many Small Voices’,
thinking about small nations and regions with small populations joining
forces,” explains Joan Eamer, Polar Programme Manager for UNEP/GRID-Arendal.
“It is a measure of the depth of concern and strength of purpose of the
participants from both regions that the name very soon became ‘Many Strong

Coastal communities in the Arctic and Small Island Developing States are
experiencing the effects of climate change first-hand. Because of their
close ties to land and sea environments, economies and cultures in both
regions are particularly vulnerable to climate change.

Although the natural and human environments in the two regions differ
markedly, the effects of rising temperatures, changing precipitation, shifts
in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, and projected
changes in sea level threaten the ecology, economies and social and cultural
fabric of both regions.

The four-day workshop will focus not only on strategies to adapt to climate
change but also on ways to deliver a strong message to the world. The people
in the SIDS and Arctic are responsible for less than 1 per cent of the
world’s greenhouse gas emissions. According to the IPCC report, however,
they are feeling a disproportionate level of impact.

These regions are bellwethers for climate change and the effects they are
feeling now will soon be felt by the rest of the planet. Representatives of
the Arctic and SIDS countries have been arguing that the rest of the world
needs to pay attention to their situation.

Belize is an ideal location for the workshop, which is hosted by the Caricom
Climate Change Centre, because it too is experiencing the effects of climate
change. These include coastal erosion, sea level rise and increased
temperatures that have led to the widespread devastation of forests in the
region due to insect infestations.

At the workshop in Belize, participants will develop a five-year programme
and agree on concrete and collaborative steps to address the issues of
capacity building, targeted research, communications and outreach
activities, and partnership and fundraising goals.

Funding for the workshop is provided by the Government of Norway and the US
National Science Foundation.

Contact Info:
Petter Haugneland
Communications Advisor
E-mail :  petter.haugneland at
Cell : +47 982 34 699

John Crump
Polar Issues Co-ordinator
UNEP/GRID-Arendal (Ottawa)
E-mail :  john.crump at
Cell : +1 613 255

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