FEATURE: In conversation… with Saleemul Huq – Extended Version, Part 2
Part 2: The Future of Climate Compatible Development
Simon Maxwell: We’ve defined our niche rather in terms of subject matter. We’re quite clear that our programme is not just about climate, it’s about climate and development and we call that climate compatible development, which has both mitigation and an adaptation element. We say that we’re not just about research, we’re about research, which is useful and used by policy-makers, and then we say that we have a particular niche around this idea of constructing a national strategy, say for 2030, and then building backwards and working with leadership groups in order to deliver that.
Saleemul Huq: Well I would say that’s an excellent way forward and again in the next say five year timeframe you’re not going to be able to do 100 countries; you’re going to have to pick and choose. I would say choose the ones that are already leading in these areas, and then help them to do that and then have that learning of how they did it and the example of that that others can then follow. And they need to be from a variety of countries, some vulnerable countries dealing with the impacts, some of the more fast developing countries dealing with both the combination of impacts as well as low carbon development and maybe even have some developed in the mix as well so that they can share their experience and I think a genuine north south and a south, south learning exercise with a handful of leaders, as it were, countries as leading the way would be a very good example and something doable within the next five years.
Simon: You know I was in Asia a couple of months ago for an encounter between Europe and Asia and it’s absolutely clear as soon as you step off the plane, so to speak and this was in Indonesia, that it is no longer if it ever was a relationship between the rich and powerful and knowledge intensive Europe and the rest of the world. This is about a partnership of equals and what Asia wants from Europe is technology and business partnerships and equality of power and a shared sense of mission, and what does Europe want from Asia, well exactly the same thing.
Saleem: Absolutely, I think one of the things that climate change has caused I think to a much greater extent than perhaps other things have, is this global citizenry awareness of all of us being in the same planet working together and needing to work together. It’s just impossible for the rich countries to think that they can you know pull up the ladder and survive on their own, they’re not going to be able to do it. We all going to have to get through this over the next couple of decades together.
Simon: But you’ve described the importance of social movements and we saw in the UK for example in 2005 with Make Poverty History, if we have the million on the street we can more easily delivery change through the Parliament and through the political process. Same is true in climate change?
Saleem: I think that’s absolutely true in climate change. I think one of the problems was that the leaders who were in charge last December in Copenhagen were simply unprepared to move the requisite level of movement that they were required to do in face of the problem, but once the citizenry make them aware that they are prepared and they want the leaders to do that, and I think that will happen sooner rather than later. Then the leaders will move, particularly those amongst them who understand the problem and intellectually want to do it, but feel politically they are constrained and not able to do it for whatever domestic, political reasons. They will require that support from the citizens at large for them to be able to take on the vested interests who may not want them to do it.
Simon: Do you think we’re going to have climate wars, in this century?
Saleem: I won’t say climate wars, but I think that a lot of the tensions that we have, both within borders and across borders, are quite likely to become exasperated, particularly where there are resource constrained with water as a major resource constraint, sometimes drought conditions, climatic conditions exasperating the condition within which people are living where conflicts are already happening. I don’t think we can attribute a particular new war to a climate issue, but certainly climatic changes will exacerbate tensions wherever they already exist.
Simon: You’ve described your programme as being about building capacity through training, our programme has four main legs; let’s look ahead, what will you be really pleased looking back to 2010 that has changed by say 2015?
Saleem: Well I’m particularly, at the moment, relatively pessimistic, because I had great hopes of Copenhagen making a big break through, that didn’t happen. I don’t think we’ll have the break through again in Cancun or in South Africa within the next couple of years, but I think over the next five to seven years we will get another opportunity these things don’t happen every year; They happen every half a decade maybe, so the next half decade will give us another opportunity to heighten the awareness about the issue and get these kinds of very transformational decisions at the global level which can then be implemented at the national level and some countries implementing them already at the national level, within that timeframe, so that we’re all tipping over into this new era of a low carbon climate resilient growth pathway.