November 11, Germany – Bamboo could be a critical plant for helping Small Island Developing States fight climate change, the UN international climate conference heard today.
At a side event hosted by the current President of COP23, Government of Fiji, and INBAR, senior representatives and technical experts shared their experiences of bamboo for climate change adaptation and mitigation, with a special emphasis on assisting Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
With low-lying islands, fragile environments, and a propensity to natural disasters, SIDS are among the most vulnerable countries to climate change impacts. According to the IPCC’s most recent assessment, rising sea levels and temperature increases are already affecting SIDS’ growth and development. For this reason, SIDS are among the most committed to combatting climate change.
Mereseini Vuniwaqa, Fiji’s Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, thinks bamboo can help. “Bamboo is already among the world’s most valuable non-timber forest products, and grows across many of the Small Island Developing States, including INBAR Member State Tonga”, she said. She stressed that bamboo can be used to create diversified income streams for particularly vulnerable groups, such as women, as well as create resilient earthquake-and typhoon-proof housing. For these reasons, Vuniwaqa thinks bamboo “can be a very important tool for the empowerment of women, children and the rural poor, and for adaptation and mitigation to climate change.”
Dessima M. Williams, a former Special Adviser for Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and one-time Ambassador of Grenada to the UN, supported this view. Bamboo has a long history of use in Grenada, she said: “from being used as scaffolding to making jewellery and even as crab traps – it plays an important role in the daily lives of people in Grenada.”
Francois Martel, Secretary General for the Pacific Islands Development Forum, championed the use of bamboo for these islands: “Bamboo has many uses and can be used to make climate resilient buildings. I will continue to advocate for greater uses of bamboo and push for more Pacific states to join INBAR.”
As well as speeches, attendees were shown some more technical presentations about bamboo’s potential. Dean Solofa, Policy and Planning Adviser from the Land Resources Division, Pacific Community showed how bamboo could be grown at a large scale for a number of uses across the Pacific. Arief Rabik, the Director of the Environmental Bamboo Foundation and Desy Ekawati, Project Coordinator for the International Tropical Timber Organisation also showed a video which described the important “Thousand Bamboo Villages” project in Indonesia.
According to Dr. Hans Friederich, Director-General of INBAR, “Countries across the world’s tropical belt are using bamboo to build climate change-resilient houses, make charcoal, and store carbon. It’s a critical material in the climate change struggle, but people are still surprised to hear about it. INBAR has over the last two decades shown that bamboo is a viable solution for addressing a number of climate change issues and supporting the SDGs. We need to spread the word.”