Increased collaboration and awareness critical to managing climate variability and saving lives

Espoo, Finland -- As the world continues to experience extreme weather events, including recent heat waves in the United States and Europe as well as drought in Africa and severe monsoons in Asia, the need to better manage climate variability is becoming increasingly urgent. The UN World Meteorological Organization, together with the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, gathered together more than 250 stakeholders for The Living with Climate Variability and Change conference to discuss practical ways of achieving better management of climate risks in their short- and long-term operations.

Economies of all societies are vulnerable to climate change, but with limited resources, developing countries are particularly at risk of incurring higher losses, both in human life and economic investment, noted keynote speaker Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University. Climate variability has led to dire consequences, both direct and indirect, including devastating famines, epidemics, social unrest and armed conflict in many underserved areas of the world.

In Espoo, Finland, representatives from over 60 countries agreed that better understanding, operational integration of climate information, collaboration, and increased and ongoing dialogue are currently among their best weapons for dealing with climate variability and change. A lack of awareness of climate-related risk management has been a major obstacle to improved prevention and reduction of loss.

Over the course of five days, dialogue among experts in the fields of agriculture and food security; natural disasters; water resources; energy and the built environment; public health; and decision making and policy resulted in a statement of agreement that captured the spirit of discussion and commitment to enabling their local communities--as well as the wider international community--to increase awareness of climate risk and help translate this awareness into real action.

Conference participants issued a final statement, underscoring the need for partnerships among stakeholders and across sectors. In particular, they recommended that effective mechanisms for climate-related risk management be developed to facilitate coordinated activities among multilateral organizations, civil society and private interests at national, regional and international levels.

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The Living with Climate Variability and Change conference was held in Espoo, Finland, on 17 July, concluding 21 July. The second conference will take place in Madrid in 2007.

For more information about the conference and to read the conference statement, please visit www.livingwithclimate.fi


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