Could Central America Do More to Address Climate Change?

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    The Costa Rica News (TCRN) – Have you heard or read about climate risks which we are going to face? Have you noticed that the number of natural disasters has increased in number and intensity? Have you ever wondered: How vulnerable is your company, organization, investment, community or residential school that your children attend to facing climate change? If you have not and you live in Central America, you should.

    According to the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC), in its report on the Economics of Climate Change in Central America 2012, Central America is one of the most vulnerable areas and exposed to the consequences of climate change in the world.   Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore mentioned in his documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” the possibility of flooding in New York due to climate change and many people from the civil society and the public and private sector called him a crazy alarmist. However, in 2012, Hurricane Sandy flooded much of Manhattan. Media like CNN and the New York Times estimated direct losses of $50 billion related to this natural disaster.

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    Roberto Flores Verdejo from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock of Costa Rica, determined in his report “Systematization of Information Impact of Natural Phenomena in Costa Rica” that the country lacks figures to account for losses in the public and private sectors for direct damage and indirect results of natural disasters attributed to climate change, but was able to determine with the available information, that the losses during the period of 1988-2012 amounted to 1.326 billion dollars.

    Our cultivations, organizations, investment communities, value chain and stakeholders are in areas prone to floods, droughts, landslides, tsunamis, cyclones, among others. And we don´t know how vulnerable we are and much less in what proportion.

    Like other environmental issues, adaptation to climate change is seen as esoteric and impossible to be incorporated into the business strategy. Three years ago, the German Technical Cooperation (GIZ), the INCAE Business School and the Business Development Association – part of the network IntegraRSE – have sought to design a practical, friendly and simple tool to analyze how vulnerable your organization is to climate change and how to develop a work plan to reduce and prevent risks. According to the companies participating in the pilot plan, “the tool strengthened its business strategy ensuring operations at different scenarios and help visualizing not determined risks”.

    It is essential that we stop seeing the issue of adaptation to climate change as something distant and move on to turn it into an opportunity to strengthen and ensure the sustainability of our business strategies. I hope that our entrepreneurs, leaders and decision makers have long-term environmental challenges and that the scenarios of the guru of the American economy, Alan Greenspan, in his book “The Age of Turbulence” won´t become reality.

    “I fear that a more likely response to global warming is to quibble over everything until the dangers to national economies become more overt: until, for example, countries are forced to build dikes around the vulnerable towns to contain rising sea levels and flooding. It is much more likely to be cured and not prevent, what arouses sufficient political and popular support. It has the advantage that it charges the costs for the same population as the benefits achieve. But if global warming brings not only floods (eg adverse weather), that solution would fall short.”

    This is our reality, our present. But our future is not yet written and can change. Only the commitment and mobilization of different actors in the public, private and civil society sectors, strengthening and meeting their responsibilities together, to lengthen the life of our planet.

    By Manfred Kopper, Director of Environment of Business Development Association


    The Costa Rica News (TCRN)

    San Jose, Costa Rica

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