As part of an effort to bring about coordinated and urgent action on global warming, Ethiopia hosted its first National Climate Change Conference earlier this week.
Oxfam America sponsored the historic event in Addis Ababa, which brought together about 400 participants from the government, non-governmental organizations, businesses, and the UN. Each discussed how best to work together to articulate, document, and share the responsibilities around developing Ethiopia's national policy on climate change.
Ethiopia's Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, called on all organizations in the country to join the National Climate Change Forum, which Oxfam helped establish to coordinate institutions in addressing droughts, floods, reduced crops, and an increase in illnesses like malaria and HIV/AIDS.
"However unjust it might be we have to adapt or die. We can only succeed to adapt to climate change if we fight poverty effectively and generate the resources needed for the purpose," Zenawi said. Read additional comments from Prime Minister Zenawi (PDF).
Oxfam is asking that industrialized countries like the US, as well as developing countries like Ethiopia, work together—to not only to address the existing pollution that's causing global warming—but to also put a special emphasis on responding to effects such as more severe drought and storms. We're supporting US legislation and an international climate deal that establish funding for poor communities to become more prepared, resilient, and secure. Some climate change "adaptation responses" include: planting drought resistant seeds, building food banks, and setting up water pumps.
"Here is the painful reality: Even if we completely stopped all harmful emission of greenhouse gas pollutants tomorrow, the damage from the emissions already up in the atmosphere will run its course for the next 50 years or more ... we must move forward on adaptation," said Janet McKinley, chairwoman of Oxfam America. "Oxfam is fighting hard to ensure that the poorest nations have the necessary funding and technology to do so." Read the full text of Ms. McKinley's speech (PDF).