"Climate change is global, but its effects are local; 2007 drought in Moldova just the beginning", says 2009/2010 National Human Development Report

Chişinău, 8 December 2009 - A catastrophic 2007 drought that caused approximately US $1 billion in losses could foreshadow "the future climate to come" in Moldova. This is just one of the findings of the 2009/2010 National Human Development Report. Launched in Chisinau, the report is a call for action at a time when it has becomes clear that, in fact, the cost of inaction –proceeding with business as usual- will be significant. The Report is part of global efforts related to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 15), held on 7-18 December 2009 in Copenhagen.

The 2009/2010 National Human Development Report, "Climate Change in Moldova: Socio-Economic Impact and Policy Options for Adaptation", provides a comprehensive and in-depth analysis of the strong impact of climate variability  and climate change, and extreme weather events on sectors vital to human development in Moldova: water resources, ecosystems, agriculture and energy, transport infrastructure and health.

The United Nations Development Programme Moldova Report makes clear that “Climate change is global, but its effects are local”. The Report also examines how well the country's development agenda aligns with climate change realities, and with formulating integrated policy proposals.

“I look forward to this Report generating discussions around climate change impact on Moldova, the role of government and individuals in addressing it and the proposed policy recommendations. I hope that such national dialogue will help achieve greater progress of the country”, states Ms. Kaarina Immonen, UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator in Moldova, in the Foreword to this National Report.

The 2009/2010 National Human Development Report, which also marks the 15th anniversary since the publication of the first NHDR in Moldova in 1995, was developed by a large team of experts and professionals. As part of a participatory process, national stakeholders and collaborators, international experts, and the UNDP were involved. The lead authors and coordinators of the Report are Alex Oprunenco and Valeriu Prohnitchi (Expert-Grup), while many other people and organizations in the country and abroad contributed to its development.

This study applies the human development perspective throughout its analysis, by trying to shed more light on the way climate change will affect Moldova’s development trends and agenda and, ultimately, the hopes and opportunities of the Moldovan people.

In short, Moldova will face warmer and wetter winters but hotter and drier summers and autumns. Moldova can expect winters like in England and summers like in Greece or Spain. As the Report makes clear, , the 2007 summer drought can be seen as a warning sign to  policy and decision-makers—one that makes clear that climate change and its impacts need to be considered today, not tomorrow.

In terms of water resources, climate change is likely to have manifold negative effects. On the one hand, climate change is likely to result in a higher frequency of excess water supply mostly in the form of flash-floods in the short term, on the other hand the frequency and severity of seasonal droughts will increase. However, estimates show that the available surface water resources will decrease by 16-20 percent by 2020 and the supply of quality water for all residents will be severely threatened. In response, the Report proposes to develop likely scenarios of water use under conditions of severe droughts and water shortage, to prioritize water usage and to establish strategic water reserves.

In an analysis of the vulnerability of ecosystems, the study predicts that climate change will lead to negative impacts on forests and aquatic species, particularly in the southern and eastern parts of Moldova. Currently, these are semi-arid regions, but, as the climate changes, they can become arid. That is why there is a need to implement proactive measures, including extension and better protection of protected areas to ensure biodiversity conservation. To improve the condition of agricultural ecosystems, which are essential for economic and human development in Moldova, there is also a need for promotion of ecological agricultural practices, improvement of soil fertility and efficient irrigation.

An economic assessment of the impact of climate vulnerability on wheat and corn suggests that net losses have so far exceeded net income. To adapt the agricultural sector of Moldova – the economic sector which is most vulnerable to climate variability and changing climatic conditions – it is recommended, inter alia, to use modern farming techniques, improve weather forecasting and prevent soil erosion. At the same time, reforms should be continued in order to adapt the agricultural system, implement an efficient farmers’ training system and create a developed agricultural infrastructure (irrigation and hail protection).

The 2009-2010 National Report also makes clear that climate change can have a significant impact on the transport sector. Heat waves can destroy the asphalt pavement of the national roads and can cause deformation of railway lines and bridges. Therefore, construction of higher quality roads, resistant to climate effects would help increase the competitiveness of the sector and the road safety, which for many Moldovan communities means access or lack of access to labour and product markets. To minimize the impact of heavy trucks on roads, their movement should be restricted, for example, in summer afternoons.

In the energy sector of Moldova, vulnerabilities will be exacerbated by climate change, while most solutions proposed by experts should be implemented, even if climate change is not taken into account (“no regret” measures). Solutions include increased energy efficiency, technological modernisation, upgraded capacities, tariff incentives, and renewable energy sources.

As illustrated by the Report, health too can be affected by high temperatures or other environmental changes, including air and water pollution. Therefore, measures aimed at mitigating the adverse effects of climate change on human health need to be developed and implemented. Practical measures include: introducing early warning systems for extreme weather events, increasing health insurance coverage, implementing sanitation and water treatment projects, providing air conditioning systems, ventilation and medical kits on public transport, at work and in hospitals, examining patients to detect high blood pressure and diseases caused by weather conditions and promoting of public dialogue for a healthy lifestyle.

Finally, the discussion of the country's development policy in the National Report yields a worrying finding: Climate change is a recognized fact of global importance, but so far the national strategic framework lacks integrated climate change mitigation or adaptation measures. Therefore, there is a need for a policy framework at the national level to ensure that a qualitative, effective and coherent climate change adaptation process takes place. This can be achieved by elaborating a comprehensive National Climate Change Adaptation Programme, serving as an umbrella for the proposed strategies. The programme should further include an Action Plan for implementing adaptation measures and a Communication Strategy for public information, awareness and participation in the decision making process.

Under this framework, sector adaptation strategies have to be developed or existing sector strategies should be supplement with adaptation measures. This is important, as each sector needs a specific approach, but at the same time, all adaptation measures must be taken as a complex whole as needed to tackle a multifaceted and cross-cutting topic like climate change. In the process of reducing the climate change impact on human development in Moldova, the Report highlights the joint responsibility of all stakeholders - public authorities, private sector and civil society - and the need for individual behavioural changes to support the national climate change agenda.

For contact: Ludmila Tiganu, Communications Specialist, UNDP Moldova, e-mail: ludmila.tiganu@undp.org or Nadja Vetters Portfolio Manager nadja.vetters@undp.org Address: Str. 31 August 1989, 131, Chisinau, MD-2012, Republic of Moldova; Tel.: (373 22) 269 112, 220 045; Fax: (373 22) 220 041.

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ABOUT THE NATIONAL HUMAN DEVELOPMENT REPORT: The Moldova’s 2009/2010 National Human Development Report, entitled “Climate Change in Moldova: Socio-Economic Impact and Policy Options for Adaptation”, commissioned by UNDP, is intended for policy makers at national, regional and local level, civil society and academia, donors and agencies providing technical assistance and the broad public. The Report highlights the importance of individual behaviour change to support the national climate change agenda that does not imply major costs.

ABOUT HUMAN DEVELOPMENT INDEX: The Moldova’s 2009/2010 National Human Development Report also includes the Human Development Index (HDI). HDI is a summary indicator of people's well-being, combining several measures of human development: a long and healthy life (measured by life expectancy at birth), a good level of education (measured by adult literacy rate, combined with total rate of enrolment in primary, secondary and tertiary education) and decent living conditions (measured by GDP per capita).

The current Human Development Index for Moldova is equal to 0.733. According to the Human Development Index, included in the 2009 Global Human Development Report, released in October 2009 and based on 2007 data, the Republic of Moldova was ranked 117th of a total of 182 countries covered by estimates.

ABOUT UNDP: UNDP is the UN's global development network, advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. We are on the ground in 166 countries, working with them on their own solutions to global and national development challenges. As they develop local capacity, they draw on the people of UNDP and our wide range of partners. For more information, please visit: www.undp.md and www.undp.org

  • PR1: Water resources (Rom)
  • PR2: Agriculture (Rom)
  • PR3: Health (Rom)
  • PR4: Adaptation (Rom)