Side event on MDGs and Climate Change

Speech by minister Koenders (Development Cooperation) in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia.

Your Excellencies Minister Paskah Suzetta, Minister Mari Pangestu, Mrs Witoelar, ladies and gentlemen,

It is an honour to have the opportunity to share with you some thoughts on the relation between climate change and the Millennium Development Goals.

I just returned from Central and East Kalimantan where I witnessed with my own eyes the need and urgency for an orchestrated plan to ensure that fighting climate change must go hand in hand with fighting poverty. During my visit I have been talking to farmers and communities and I have seen what a devastating impact climate change has on their environment. At the same time, I was impressed and encouraged by the drive of the local people to restore their environment. And indeed, they deserve our support! We have to make sure that decisions on climate change are in the interest of the most vulnerable, supporting their social protection, health and livelihood and that they go hand in hand with the MDG’s.

Climate change could cause progress made towards the Millennium Development Goals to be washed away or dried up. In Indonesia MDG 1 is coming in sight, but Indonesia has a huge group of people just above the poverty-line that will immediately fall back into poverty with floods or unstable rains. Child malnutrion here at 28% is still alarmingly high. Maternal mortality at 307 (per 100,000) is also relatively high. On education Indonesia is on track, and we’re now focussing on improving quality to reduce the drop-out rate: 95% of the children go to school, but only 77% reach grade 6. And then MDG7, so relevant to this conference, on environmental management, drinking water and sanitation Indonesia is still facing huge challenges: forest cover is dropping fast and CO2 emissions are too high.

There is a also a clear link between DOHA and climate change. The western world should not in the name of climate change impose new non-trade barriers but instead should help developing countries to produce low carbon products. This is MDG8, the western world has meanwhile a continued responsibility to keep its borders open to developing countries. Mrs. Pangestu led a very important meeting on this subject.

The recent Human Development report was very clear: Climate change could bring unprecedented reversals in poverty reduction, nutrition, health and education. The report argues that the world is drifting towards a ‘tipping point’ that could lock the world’s poorest countries and their poorest citizens in a downward spiral, leaving hundreds of millions facing malnutrition, water scarcity, ecological threats, and a loss of livelihoods. One of the recommendations of the report is to avoid dangerous climate change under a post 2012- Kyoto Framework. It is the right of all people, where-ever they are, to live in a place where the climate risks are well managed. The report puts adaptation at the centre of a post 2012 Kyoto Framework. This is a conclusion I fully support. Although we might all agree - adaptation being a core part of the future climate regime is not to be taken for granted. Negotiations on what to agree and what to finance will not be easy. Another conclusion of the Human Develoment Report is that we need to mitigate substantially. Developing countries must also make an effort, while we all recognize that energy demand – as part of the development process will increase. The Netherlands is committed to support developing countries to enter a low carbon development path and I will in the coming 4 years invest Euro 500 million in sustainable energy.

The main challenge and the MDGs

Ladies and gentlemen,

We need to reaffirm a sometimes forgotten truth: poverty reduction is a matter of growth and distribution. Yes, economic growth is key. Globalisation has freed many millions of people from poverty especially in China and India. It seems ages since economists were writing books with titles like “The Asian drama”, by Nobel Laureate Gunnar Myrdal. Yet, we have to make sure that growth is sustainable. If we do not act now, forces unleashed by global warming could stall and then reverse progress built up over generations. The breakdown of agricultural systems as a result of increased exposure to drought, could leave up to 600 million more people facing malnutrition. Glacial retreat and changed rainfall patterns could lead to an additional 1.8 billion people facing water stress. Displacement through flooding and tropical storm activity of up to 332 million people in coastal and low-lying areas.

Already, we are behind schedule when it comes to reaching some of the MDGs. When I took office, I made the MDGs the number one priority in my development policies. With public, private and international partners, we are trying to find innovative ways to accelerate the attainment of the MDGs. The Netherlands has been a consistent 0.7% donor for decades. In spite of all the promises made in the past few years, worldwide development aid even dropped by 5% last year. 1200 billion of military expenditures compared to just over 100 billion in development cooperation. To achieve our goals by 2015, we will all have to step up our efforts. Let’s simply start by implementing the Monterrey-agreement. Furthermore, we should enhance the quality and effectiveness of our ODA-spending. More stable and predictable funding is required. The Netherlands will increase the amount of multi-year core funding for UN organisations that perform well and – in the near future – for One UN country programmes. And, of course, Trade and integration into the regional and the world economy are essential pre-conditions for economic development and poverty reduction.

Development & climate change

However, all of these investments in development are fruitless unless they take climate change into account. Over the past few days, I travelled through Aceh and Kalimantan where the effects of climate change already are apparent. Adaptation and mitigation should be mainstreamed in development. Affected countries can and should integrate the phenomenon of climate change into their development planning. Advance planning can help avoid future costs. International support -both financial and technical- needs to be mobilised for these countries so they can make the necessary investments.

Successful adaptation requires major efforts from the international community in a fair way. Taking a closer look at my own direct responsibilities, we have done “quick-scans” of our assistance to three partner countries (Bangladesh, Bolivia and Ethiopia), rather informal and sketchy analyses of the climate risks facing the development objectives and programs we are supporting there. Not a fancy intellectual policy exercise, but a low-cost effort that identified activities at high risk, and demonstrated concrete options to reduce vulnerability, with clear development benefits. But adaptation to climate change is not sufficient. We also need mitigate. We have to take action to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gasses. The more successful we will be in mitigating climate change, the cheaper adaptation measures will be.

We have to bear in mind that the poorest countries are the main victims of the more extreme weather conditions, of the droughts and floods. A Stanford scientist has compared climate change to the sinking of the Titanic. Then too, most of the victims were the poor emigrants on the cheaper decks. The disaster isn’t far away. I am not a person who always sees a dark and bleak future. I think we have an enormous amount of opportunity. But we also have to be realistic. The iceberg has been sighted, and we need to change course right now .

Therefore, we have to put an international regulatory framework in place, which should ensure a high enough carbon price to provide incentives for green investment, including in mitigation and offsets. We also need efficient and expanded carbon markets to ensure that mitigation efforts will be prioritised as efficiently as possible. This system should include incentives to avoid deforestation and to improve the quality of forests. Deforestation currently accounts for 20% of greenhouse gas emissions. A global carbon mechanism should provide incentives to avoid deforestation and to promote sustainable forest management. And as, was underlined this afternoon at the launch of the World Bank Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, the community approach is vital. Sustainable forest mangement also means that we look at certification and deal with illegal logging. Funding for adaptation could also be generated through carbon markets.

And last but not least, we have to re-think our patterns of production and consumption and our financing mechanisms to stay ahead of the developments. Developed and developing countries alike. We all need to make an effort to control emissions. I recognise that in spite of measures to economise in energy use, demand will increase as part of the development process. But development should not be constrained by energy scarcity. The Netherlands therefore supports several programmes and projects in developing countries to provide sustainable and affordable energy to the poor. Over the coming years, the Netherlands will invest 500 million euros to this end in developing countries. Indonesia will be one of the countries to receive a share of this fund in support of its efforts to stimulate the use of sustainable energy.


Ladies and gentlemen,

At the launch of this years Human Development Report, UNDP Administrator Kemal Dervis, said:

“Ultimately, climate change is a threat to humanity as a whole. But it is the poor, a constituency with no responsibility for the ecological debt we are running up, who face the immediate and most severe human costs.”

Climate change is not just an environmental phenomenon. It also is a development challenge. Fighting climate change and fighting poverty must go hand in hand. This approach should become part and parcel of any post Kyoto agreement. Let us all join our efforts to reverse the trends.

Thank you.