Overview: Least Developed Countries Fund(LDCF)
What is the least Developed Countries Fund?
At the annual United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference in 2001, the countries of the world agreed to establish the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) to help the poorest and most vulnerable countries to better cope with natural disasters and make their societies more resilient.
The LDCF investments support projects that reduce the vulnerability of people to extreme weather events, and strengthen institutional capacity to respond and be more resilient, particularly within sectors that are central to development and livelihoods (e.g., water, agriculture and food security, health, disaster risk management and prevention, infrastructure, and fragile ecosystems).
Many co-benefits come from LDCF investments, including stemming the flow of refugees fleeing droughts, flooding, famine and the political conflicts that can result. However a dozen years later, less than half that amount had been pledged by developed countries, and even less had actually been provided. This has left the LDCF with a pipeline of approved but long-unfunded projects.
S.2056 directs funds to the LDCF because of its unique role in addressing the acute need of our most vulnerable communities. The United States is currently its third highest funder . As a leader among states with international vision and home to global citizens, Massachusetts is uniquely positioned to pioneer a state-sourced companion to the LDCF. Largely unprecedented, the integration of state and international affairs will serve as a powerful indication of public support and an example to other states.
Who are the Least Developed Countries?
The Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are the 48 poorest nations in the world, with the majority in Africa and Asia. Haiti is the only LDC in the western hemisphere. Home to more than 880 million, these countries are especially vulnerable to climate change not only because they are located in areas vulnerable to sea level rise and prone to increasingly more extreme and frequent natural disasters (e.g., droughts, floods, hurricanes), but also they have the least resources to confront these disasters.
These countries are also least responsible for contributing to the climate crisis. The heavy use of fossil fuels by the world’s wealthiest countries, particularly the U.S. as the largest historical polluter, is directly worsening the impacts of climate instability, and therefore, we have a moral obligation to help these countries adapt and prepare for the impacts of climate change.
LDCs are already suffering the consequences of climate change on human health, poverty, food security, and natural disasters, despite having contributed less than one percent of the global emissions that created this problem. In Massachusetts, carbon dioxide emissions have reduced in recent years, but residents have contributed to global accumulation of greenhouse gases. Support for the poorest nations in coping with the devastating impacts of climate change should be part of Massachusetts’ broader efforts to cope with climate impacts at home and reduce our own carbon footprint.
How vulnerable are the LDCs to climate impacts?
From Barbuda to Bangladesh, we see that it is the poor who bear the brunt of the devastation. These impacts will only become more acute without significant investment to mitigate further climate change and to adapt with more resilient planning.
Climate change has already claimed millions of lives in LDCs as a result of food shortages, public health crises, and increasingly intense natural disasters. Residents in LDCs are five times more likely to die from climate-related disasters than other citizens of the globe. As an example, the East African drought of 2011 – the worst one the region has seen in 60 years – claimed the lives of 50-100,000 people, more than half of whom were children under 5. As the frequency and intensity of these disasters are expected to soar in the near future, LDC’s will continue to bear the heaviest burden of climate fatalities.
The threat to human life is extraordinary. More than 100 million people could die as a result of climate change related events by 2030 if present trends continue, with more than 90% of these deaths concentrated in LDCs. According to the international panel of hundreds of top scientists, approximately 75-250 million people in Africa will be without adequate water by 2020 as a result of climate change. Food shortages are also already occurring and are expected to intensify; crop productivity is predicted to decline by about 50%. In Asia, rising temperatures could result in food shortages for 130 million people.
The World Bank reports that climate change could result in more than 100 million additional people living in poverty by 2030 as a result of the natural disasters, food insecurity, water scarcity, and health impacts of the shifting climate. Displacement, death, loss of livelihood, disease, and the interruption of economic development are all consequences of a warmer, more intense, and less predictable climate. LDCs are the least equipped to adapt to these changes, and yet they are subject to the worst of them. Outside support will be crucial in determining whether these dystopian scenarios come to pass or are avoided.