On 13th February 2008, 110 participants joined the 4th Brussels Development Briefing to discuss climate change – the threats and opportunities posed to ACP countries.

In 2007, climate change emerged as one of the hottest debated topic at all levels of public, political and economic discussion. Since over 70% of disasters in ACP countries are climate-related, environmental concerns also generated a huge impact on the international development community. It shifted priorities and dramatically increased the pressure to adjust strategies.

But the link between environment and development is not new; it may just have been forgotten for more than a decade. The 1992 Earth summit in Rio, the first UN Conference on Environment and Development, focused attention on the strong interdependence between both. However, in the years to follow, the two camps somehow followed different paths, almost independent disciplines.

The rising public concern about climate change in 2007 broke with this mindset, and is bringing the two disciplines together again. Thus, this 4th Brussels Development Briefing was dedicated to the topic.

CTA’s Isolina Boto welcomed participants, emphasizing that the discussions should raise awareness and feed into the debate on climate change and how future EC interventions in this area could benefit in ACP countries.

The first panel reviewed developments ‘from Rio to Bali’, focusing on the policy challenges and highlighting three key areas likely to impact ACP countries: adaptation and pro-poor mitigation strategies, trade and technology, and capacity development.

In contrast to the policy perspective of the first panel, the second panel concentrated on the practical implications – linking climate changes to agriculture and rural development. The speakers introduced concrete climate measures and actions and their real impact on rural communities and small farmers. These included the food miles debate, the REDD mechanism and low-input technologies for local adaptation to climate change.

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