“It’s time to act now”

As the Conference of the Parties opens in Glasgow Belgian international development minister Meryame Kitir (Flemish socialist/Vooruit) has asked us not to forget for who the Glasgow climate conference is being organised.  Ms Kitir is fresh back from West Africa, where she spent six days touring Burkina Faso and Senegal, two countries that are already facing the consequences of global warming.

“We all gain if we tackle climate change in vulnerable countries” says the international development minister. 

The Sahel region of Africa is hit harder than most by global warming: the desert is encroaching on more areas and this is a major threat to the local population that is largely reliant on agriculture for their food and income.

“We talk about climate change.  Young people take to the street, but here you can see who is affected and how. Water is drying up.  People can’t live off the land.  Women and youngsters pay the highest price.”

Ms Kitir spoke with young climate change activists in Burkina Faso: “They are just like our youngsters.  They are standing up and telling us to act now. It’s about our future, our planet, our opportunities.”

The Senegalese president Macky Sall told Ms Kitir he’s not heading for Glasgow because western countries haven’t met the promises they made to developing nations at the last climate conference.

“This was a strong message” said Kitir.  “The developing nations are the first countries to feel the ramifications of climate change.  They have a greater right to say they are disappointed and insist more must be done.”

“I am convinced we can address climate change, but it’s time to act now. That’s what everybody says, the people who took to the streets in Belgium, people here.  It’s time to act now.”

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