The Road to Paris: how can the world’s most vulnerable countries be heard?

(Originally posted on the IIED website here)

With a month to go until the start of COP21, Saleemul Huq provides an insight into the perspectives of the Least Developed Countries ahead of the Paris climate talks, as part of a new series of video interviews for IIED.


Least Developed Countries must use their “strength of numbers” if they are to achieve a successful climate agreement in Paris in December, says climate change expert Saleemul Huq.

Huq, a senior fellow at IIED and director of the Bangladesh-based International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD), is interviewed for a new video series launched by IIED on Friday – one month before the start of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties meeting in Paris (COP21).

“This series of video blogs will highlight different aspects of the Paris agreement,” he said. “But the unique feature will not just be explaining what is going to happen in Paris, but explaining it from the perspective of the most vulnerable countries.”

There are around 100 vulnerable countries in the combined groups of Least Developed Countries (LDC) and the Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS), out of a total of 195 countries in the UNFCCC process.

But, as Huq points out, despite comprising a majority of countries, their voice is not heard as strongly in the negotiations as others, such as the rich countries or the large developing nations such as China, India and Brazil.

IIED works to support climate change negotiators from the LDCs, and has beenworking closely with the LDC negotiating group at the UNFCCC climate change talks. We have been providing legal, technical and strategic advice and building the group’s capacity to represent their interests in talks.

“In the negotiations, what I and a lot of my colleagues do is to help the vulnerable countries groups,” said Saleem. “We enhance their voices, and help to form common positions so they can have a collective view on what outcomes they want and then negotiate together to get them.

“Sometimes they are able to do it, not always, but they have strength of numbers, and if they can use that strength then they can get some things they want out of the negotiations.”

In the run-up to COP21, IIED will publish further video interviews with key figures involved in the negotiations discussing topics ranging from the temperature target in the Paris agreement, to loss and damage and the nature of climate summits and legally binding agreements.

Among those lined up to feature are IIED principal researcher Achala Abeysinghe, who is currently legal and technical adviser to the chair of the Least Developed Countries Group for the UNFCCC, Giza Gaspar-Martins; the special climate envoy of The Gambia, Pa Ousman Jarju; and Gaspar-Martins himself.

When COP21 begins on 30 November, IIED will provide updates from the Paris negotiations, including a daily vlog by Huq rounding up the latest news and views and recording the progress being made towards the Paris agreement.