Catholic Relief Networks Say Technology Key to Climate Change Plan

The largest networks of Catholic development and relief agencies in the world say key UN talks on climate change will fail the poor unless they provide the tools to deal with the "dire consequences" of climate change.

In their joint report launched at the UN climate change negotiations taking place this week and last in Bonn, Germany, CIDSE and Caritas Internationalis highlighted the need for urgent enhanced action on adaptation technologies, which they say are key for adapting to climate change, reducing poverty and promoting sustainable development.

"The negotiations must ensure a coherent and coordinated approach to technology and adaptation under the new agreement, and dedicate the financing and institutional capacity necessary to support them," commented Sol Oyuela, policy expert from the CIDSE and Caritas networks.

Since June 1, national government delegations who agreed to shape an ambitious international response to climate change in 2007 have been meeting in Bonn for a second round of negotiations.

Following the meeting, which concludes this coming Friday, the negotiating parties are expected to gather for an end-of-the-year summit in Copenhagen, where they will seek to agree on a post-2012 climate agreement that will replace the current Kyoto protocol.

According to Oyuela, the negotiating text which has come out so far contains "some promising language" that can be built on in the direction CIDSE and Caritas are pointing toward.

However, she says, "there still is a need for more focus on the adaptation technologies, vital for the future of those most exposed to the effects of climate change."

In making their case, CIDSE and Caritas pointed to the sustainable forestation projects in the Satkhira district of Bangladesh – one of a number of communities in developing countries that are successfully implementing adaptation technologies.

The two Catholic networks say these projects not only protect riverbanks from erosion in face of increasing floods, they also result in fruits that provide additional income for the local community and trees that contribute to mitigation by absorbing CO2.

"Adaptation technologies refer to the selection of the trees and the way in which they are planted, but also to the knowledge and organizational capacity of the community to manage and maintain them," explained Francis Atul Sarker Director of Development at Caritas Bangladesh.

"These kinds of technologies must be made available to all communities in developing countries that can benefit from them," he added.

With this in mind, CIDSE and Caritas are calling on governments negotiating the new global climate change agreement not to forget about adaptation in their efforts to strike a deal on technology.

As an international alliance of Catholic development agencies, CIDSE works to eradicate poverty and establish global justice by engaging in issues such as global governance, resources for development, climate change, trade and food security, EU development policy and business, and human rights.

Caritas Internationalis, meanwhile, is the biggest network of Catholic charities in the world. It currently works through its 162 national members to combat poverty and injustice.