People must be made fully aware of climate change
By Azlan Othman

Addressing the biggest ever gathering on Climate Change at the United Nations in New York on Tuesday His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade underscored the importance of making people understand and be fully aware of how to deal with the worrying trend.

His Royal Highness highlighted the need for all people to have a full understanding of climate change and stressed the importance of the sharing of modern technology, and teaching of skills by experts in the field.

In his statement to the Thematic Group on Adaptation His Royal Highness stressed the importance of international cooperation in the transfer of technology and capacity building, which in fact were the priorities in Brunei Darussalam's own adaptation strategies.

HRH attended the opening ceremony of the High Level Event on Climate Change at the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York. The meeting was conducted in four Thematic Groups.

HRH said, "We have had many meetings this year about climate change and, like other countries, we are getting very worried about it and how it can affect our future."

"The last major meeting we went to was earlier this month at the APEC Summit in Sydney and we came away with two clear impressions.

"The first was a good one. The leaders there were very concerned both about climate change itself and about what we are discussing here - "adaptation" or, to put it in another way, what are we going to do about it?" HRH said.

HRH added APEC came up with strong Declaration, which was very clear, well thought-out, and not too technical. That was very good but other impressions we had was not so encouraging.

"We got a feeling that we were lacking a lot back home-resources, ideas and basic understanding. By that, I did not mean at government level, we have done what we can by legislation. We have a longstanding conservation policy and we have done a great deal to protect our environment.

"That, however, did not solve our biggest problem-getting more understanding and awareness among our people. That is not surprising, of course. Climate change is very complex and sometimes very confusing but, even so, we badly need our people to become involved in finding solutions, and that is much easier said than done.

"To put it simply, our people did not know enough about the subject and they need to learn it very quickly indeed because it gives them knowledge and, from that, they developed understanding and then, in the end, everyone is involved. In that way, we find the ideas we need and the best approach.

"So that is what we are working on at the moment, not just in schools but also in trying to build up confidence in every sector: public, private and, above all, young people. That is what I think is really meant by "adaptation" and that is where we need help," HRH said.

HRH also said, "We would certainly welcome any help we could receive from outside experts, especially if they could teach us new skills and share their modern technology. To sum-up, we certainly want to adapt but it has to be a joint effort and the biggest need we have is to get the people at home fully on our side.

"That means outside help. After all, there are no big countries and small countries in this. We're all in it together.

"That is the point I wish to make. It might not sound like a very big one but my country has less than 400,000 people and I assure you that we need every one of them to be fully aware and able to take part in our efforts to deal with climate change," HRH concluded.

Meanwhile HRH also held a bilateral meeting with Mr Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi, President of the Union of Comoros at the UN headquarters. - Borneo Bulletin (26th September 2007)