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A new report on the need for the poorest countries to adapt to the impacts of climate change says that information on this issue needs to presented in a form that is readily-understandable by decision makers if it is to be taken seriously at a policy level.

The report was put together by three non-governmental policy research institutes: the International Institute for Environment and Development based in London, United Kingdom, the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies and Environmental Development in the Third World in Senegal.

It calls for clearer information for policy makers in the least developed countries on the need to adapt to the potential effects of climate change, such as an increase in natural disasters, reduced rainfall, losses in food production and more widespread disease.

"It is essential for these countries to prepare themselves for coping with or 'adapting' to such adverse impacts, and to ensure that adaptation measures and policies are built-in to their existing national and sectoral development activities," says Anwarul K Chowdhury, UN high representative for least developed countries, in the foreword to the report.

There is widespread agreement that although the world's poorest countries have contributed least to the emission of greenhouse gases, they are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

The report is based on case studies from two such countries — Bangladesh and Mali — and says that "policy makers, planners and managers are more likely to mainstream adaptation to climate change into their ongoing and planned work if the information on impacts is given to them in a suitable form".

In particular, it urges national agencies to take steps to translate scientific information into language and timescales relevant for policy makers.

Over the last few years the international community has increasingly realised the importance of encouraging countries — especially in the developing world — to adapt to the impact of climate change, rather than just focusing on reducing emissions. For example, a special fund was set up at the 2001 meeting of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to specifically help poorer countries with adaptation.

But the new report stresses that there is "much more to be done in terms of mainstreaming adaptation to climate change within national policy making".

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Link to full report: Mainstreaming Adaptation to Climate Change in Least Developed Countries  PDF document

Related external links:

International Institute for Environment and Development
Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies
Environmental Development in the Third World
UN Framework Convention on Climate Change: LDCs
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change