“A developing country, also known as a less-developed countries (LDC), is a nation with a low living standard, undeveloped industrial base, and low Human Development Index (HDI) relative to other countries. But former United Nations (UN) Secretary General, Kofi Annan defined a developed country as follows: “A developed country is one that allows all its citizens to enjoy a free and healthy life in a safe environment.” However, the United Nations Statistics Division caution that” “there is no established convention for the designation of “developed” and “developing countries or areas in the United Nations system” (Ibid) and therefore notes that, “the designations “developed” and “developing” are intended for statistical convenience and do not necessarily express a judgment about the stage reached by the particular country or area in the development process”.
Although climate change is increasingly becoming clearer as a practical phenomenon by the day, its academic conceptualization is still fluid. This is because it has largely remained an academic and policy issue. For this reason, its conceptualization has been shrouded in high sounding technical lexicon that makes comprehension very challenging.
Climate change is a consequence of anthropogenic green house gases (GHG) Emissions related to resource consumption and production processes, which simultaneously influences the productive basis of the economy and human living conditions.
Climate change is a pattern of change affecting global or regional climatic conditions, as measured by changes in such factors as average temperature and rainfall, or an alteration in frequency of extreme weather conditions. This variation may be caused both by natural processes and human activity. The problem or phenomenon of climate change arises because the concentration of greenhouse gases (GHGs) produced by human activity has increased significantly. Some of the major features of climate change include natural resource depletion, reduction of the Ozone layer, and global warming. These features are, to a larger extent, mutually reinforcing. Of the three, global warming has attracted a lot of attention so much that it is often seen as synonymous with climate change. It suffices to state at this point however, that climate change is a long-term phenomenon, and may take at least seventy years to manifest. Let us now address the salient features of global warming.
Mitigating the challenges of climate change requires both national and international collaboration amongst relevant key actors. This is so because a number of environmental problems defy national boundaries to affect, often in a challenging manner, the entire geographical fabric of the international economic and political systems. This necessitates the adoption of some measures of international agreements and conventions. Secondly, global environmental change is inextricably linked to national and international systems of production, distribution and consumption. Indeed, as Hurreii and Kingsbury, rightly observed, the increasing generation of environmental problems and the effective and efficient workings of the international economy engendered by globalization cannot be separated. Thus, this integrating aspect of global climate change necessitates a corresponding integrated international agreement and framework to both manage international environmental problems and deal with environmental problems within national confines in a manner that will not place individual states, or a group thereof, at any political or competitive disadvantage.
The closely interwoven relationship between climate change on one hand, and domestic and international economic, social, and political spheres on the other generate a multiplicity of impacts requiring a multi-dimensional approach for its effective management. Among the dominant issues on the agenda of developing countries and in the discourses on climate change is the lack of capacity of the international framework for managing environmental problems to enforce its numerous agreements due largely to an ability to extract compliance, especially from industrialized countries. Often, this leaves developing countries at the receiving end. While they contribute relatively insignificant proportions of the causations of climate change generally, this group of countries bears the brunt of the costs of mitigating climate change. This becomes obvious when we consider the relative scientific and technological weakness of the developing countries who also lack the financial, and other logistics capacity to mitigate the effects of global warming.
The apparent insatiable hunger for raw materials by developed and newly industrializing economies, such as Brazil, Russia, India, China, etc is a growing source of concern. While this category of countries invade developing countries in search of raw materials, often oil, timber and other resources in return for development assistance, developing countries, desperately in need of development assistance, often oblige them. In the process of exploring and/or exploiting natural resources, vast forest and other natural resources are depleted and abused in the developing countries’ quest for primary sources of energy. Obviously, this convergence of interests leaves the environment worse off, and developing countries bear the biggest amount of adverse consequences. The issue at stake therefore, is one of hard choices for developing countries. Should developing countries refuse the offer of generous development assistance which compromises the need for sustainable use of resources?
From the foregoing discussion on Climate Change and the policy challenges it poses for developing countries, it is evident that a dominant cause of environmental degradation in general and climate change in particular is located in human activities, (anthropogenic factors) particularly those that emit GHGs. This process of human activity is characterized by inequity, in the appropriation and use of natural resources in which developing countries bear the brunt of the costs of climate change, even though they contribute significantly little or nothing to the causes of the phenomenon.
After several rounds of negotiations, it is more compelling and desirable for developing countries to adopt policy frameworks that will respond to their domestic exigencies first before those of the international system. It is therefore strongly suggested that environmental policies must be people-friendly, people-centred and people-driven.
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