Transcript of "Global Warming Impacts on the Acievement of the Milennium Development Goals"
Climate Change Impacts on the Achievement of the Millennium Development Goals: Can We Afford Not to Integrate? September 2010This paper was written by Mia McDonald with input from the teams at Realizing Rights,GCAP and GCCA.
1. IntroductionSince the 2000 Millennium Summit and its immediate follow-up, the eight MillenniumDevelopment Goals (MDGs) have become a major framework for global developmentpolicy, practice, and donor assistance. Over the past decade, progress toward meetingthe goals has been made, but has been uneven. Considerable work remains if the MDGsare to be achieved by 2015. At the same time, the current and anticipated effects ofclimate change1 threaten further progress on each of the MDGs. Millions of people,particularly in the global south, increasingly experience multiple, negative climaterelated impacts on their livelihoods and lives, and these are covered in detail in thefollowing sections. Indeed, climate change has the potential to reverse developmentprogress made over several decades, and the consequences will be felt not only bythose alive today, but by future generations as well.Despite what is at stake, few national governments or multi-lateral institutions havefully embraced the links between climate change and the MDGs. By contrast, many civilsociety groups and community-based organizations (CBOs) across the world havebrought attention to the threats climate change poses to realization of the MDGs, andadvocated for concerted action. Still, policy priorities and funding for development andclimate change adaptation and mitigation have not yet been allied in fundamentalways; in too many contexts, climate change is still a footnote to MDG implementation.With only five years left to achieve the MDGs and following the failure of the 2009 UNclimate summit in Copenhagen to ratify a fair, ambitious, and binding climate deal, theupcoming United Nations High Level Plenary Meeting on the MDGs in New York providesan important—indeed essential—opportunity for agreement on a set of concrete, far-reaching actions.This publication does not aim to provide an exhaustive account of climate change’simpacts on the MDGs, or a thorough assessment of progress toward the MDG targets.Other institutions have produced excellent documentation on these issues. Rather, thepurpose of this report is to demonstrate the necessity of integrating policies andpractices to achieve the MDGs with those that address climate change, and to do sowith urgency.Building on the experiences and recommendations of dozens of partners and membersof Realizing Rights: the Ethical Globalization Initiative, the Global Call to Action AgainstPoverty (GCAP) and the Global Campaign on Climate Action (GCCA), we urgegovernments, bilateral and multilateral development institutions, and donors at the UNHigh Level Plenary Meeting on the MDGs to: • Promote at national levels the increased integration of MDG planning, monitoring, and reporting mechanisms with national adaptation programs of action for climate change (NAPAs), as well as national poverty reduction1 Article 1 of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) defines climatechange as “a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity thatalters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climatevariability observed over comparable time periods.”http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/wg1/518.htm 2
strategies. • Ensure that program tracking MDG progress at both global and country levels take into account current and future impacts of climate change on achieving and sustaining the MDGs, singly and as a whole. Given just five years are left for MDG implementation, such measures should be put in place as soon as possible. • Re-emphasize in policy and practice the original target of addressing greenhouse gas emissions the MDG 7 target to “integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and program and reverse the loss of environmental resources.” • Adopt the principles of climate justice to guide national and global efforts to ensure progress on the MDGs and to slow, and ultimately, reverse global warming. This will require an assessment of current policies, programs and financing, and should include broad consultation with civil society and community-based organizations. • Ensure the effective and meaningful participation of communities affected by climate change in the design and implementation of adaptation and mitigation programs. • Build on the international human rights framework, rooted in equality and a life of dignity for all, in all ongoing and new efforts to link implementation of the MDGs within the context of the realities (current and expected) of climate change. • Prioritize funding and the transfer of skills and knowledge so that low-carbon technologies on a broad, national scale are made available in developing countries, with priority given to low-income households. • Integrate inter-governmental dialogue on the MDGs with those on climate change. This would entail creating a mechanism within global MDG planning and reporting to track the effects of climate change on the MDGs, and a similar mechanism within the UNFCCC. • Commit to limiting the global average temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees Celsius. • Ensure that new and additional financial resources pledged for climate change adaptation in developing countries are forthcoming, and put in place robust mechanisms for climate finance that include innovative, new sources, such as a financial transaction tax. Specifically, honor commitments for US $30 billion annually by 2012, rising to US $100 billion annually by 2020. It should be noted that funding for climate change mitigation and adaptation must be committed in addition to current development assistance, including financial resources directed to realization of the MDGs.2. A Climate Justice ApproachNeither the impacts of climate change nor strategies for achieving the MDGs can beaddressed adequately without greater recognition of the disproportionate burden ofenvironmental changes in developing countries. The concept of climate justice seeks tohighlight this recognition and provide guidance on a better way forward. A climatejustice approach acknowledges that the burdens arising from climate change and thecosts of climate change adaptation and mitigation must be shared equitably, taking intoaccount the vastly different levels of greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted historically and 3
currently by rich and poor nations. It recognizes that the world’s peoples have the rightto development, but economic development should occur in a sustainable manner thatdoes not contribute to further negative climatic changes. It demands that those mostaffected by environmental changes, and least able to cope, such as those with limitedresources, assets, and status, must be genuine partners in all efforts to address climatechange. And the gender dimensions of climate change must be recognized, includingthrough policies and actions that address how natural resource deficits affect women’swork and prospects for empowerment and ensure that women’s voices and prioritiesare heard and responded to equally.In terms of global and national policy-making, a climate justice approach meansbuilding greater awareness amongst political leaders and the broader public about theinter-connectedness of climate change with issues of development and social justice. Allefforts to address the threats posed by climate change must be carried out in ways thatbuttress the principles of sustainable development. Climate justice also demands thatthe rights, needs, and voices of those most affected by environmental changes—particularly those living in poverty, the disempowered, the marginalized, women, andindigenous peoples—be recognized, heard, and given priority in global debates onmitigation and adaptation strategies. In addition, such strategies must target benefitsto, and address potential unintended negative consequences for, vulnerable andmarginalized groups.A climate justice approach also means that development and transfer of low-carbon,affordable, and appropriate technologies are scaled up to reach low-income households,as well as countries as a whole. Global partnerships and a spirit of cooperation are keyto achieving climate justice, with campaigns, policies, and programs providing aplatform for solidarity and shared engagement. Finally, climate justice builds on afoundation of human rights, with attention to accountability, equality, participation, andtransparency in the content of policies and in implementation processes. CLIMATE CHANGE AND HUMAN RIGHTS Climate change is a human rights issue. Extreme weather and changes in climatic conditions caused by rising global temperatures are undermining the enjoyment of human rights, particularly for individuals and communities in the most vulnerable situations: people living in poverty; those whose livelihoods make them deeply reliant on their surrounding environment; those living on marginal lands; those pushed to society’s edges due to their gender, ability, or ethnicity; and those denied their full human rights, whose voices are ignored by policy-makers and leaders at local, national, or global levels. Climate change has and will continue to alter the natural environment in ways that threaten rights to health, food, water, decent work, and even life. Ensuring respect for human rights and building on the international rights framework, rooted in equality and a life of dignity for all, points societies towards internationally agreed values. It is around these values that common action to address climate change and the MDGs can be negotiated.3. The MDGs and the Global Climate: What is at Stake? 4
Climate change arguably poses the greatest threat to reducing poverty, advancingglobal development, and realizing human rights the world has ever seen. People indeveloping countries are not responsible for the climate crisis, but they are paying thehighest price. It is the poorest nations, and the poorest communities within them,including women and indigenous communities, which are experiencing negativeclimatic effects most immediately and most powerfully.While no single instance of erratic weather or shifting conditions of heat or cold can beattributed directly to climate change, distinct evidence of changes underway—andthose anticipated—has been provided by the Intergovernmental Panel on ClimateChange (IPCC). These include long-term changes observed in what the IPCC calls“events of extreme weather:” drought, heavy precipitation, heat waves, and theintensity of tropical storms.22 Current Evidence of Climate Change.http://unfccc.int/essential_background/feeling_the_heat/items/2904.php 5
THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women Goal 4: Reduce child mortality Goal 5: Improve maternal health Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for developmentAs world leaders gather for the UN High Level Plenary Meeting on the MDGs inSeptember 2010, examples abound of how extreme weather events that are likely toincrease in number and severity as climate change worsens will undermineachievement of the MDGs. In Pakistan, unprecedented monsoon floods in Augustresulted in thousands of deaths and upended the lives of millions. In Niger, unusuallyheavy rains in July and August, hard on the heels of a devastating drought earlier in theyear that ravaged harvests, have left half the population reliant on food aid. In May,Agathe, a fierce tropical storm, swept through Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Itdestroyed crops, swept aside homes, and hundreds of people died in floods andmudslides. Some fields in southern Guatemala are still under water.These calamities and others like them offer a glimpse of the ways in which globalwarming3 constrain efforts to achieve the MDGs, as well as broader objectives foradvancing human rights and ensuring sustainable development. And it is not onlyheadline-grabbing events that provide such evidence. Other changes are underway aswell. In arid regions from Africa to South Asia, rainfall patterns have shifted over recentyears, and drought and floods occur now with increased frequency. Farmers across theglobal south report that the rhythm of the seasons has changed, and with this thepredictability of agricultural cycles.The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that if current trendspersist the global temperature will rise anywhere between 1.1 and 6.4° Celsius by2100.4 It is anticipated that 2010 will end up being the warmest year on record.4. The Nexus - MDGs and the Realities of Climate Change3 A fact sheet on the UNFCCC defines global warming as follows: “Global warming is caused by an excess ofheat-trapping gases, first and foremost carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxides. These gases mainlyresult from the burning of fossil fuels, from agriculture and from waste dumps. The gases prevent the sun’senergy from radiating back into space after it has reached the surface of the earth, much like the glass of agreenhouse.” http://unfccc.int/press/fact_sheets/items/4978.php4 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 2007: Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of theIntergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B.Averyt, M.Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and NewYork, NY, USA, 2007. http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/ar4-wg1-spm.pdf 6
As the world’s governments, civil society institutions, international institutions, and theprivate sector move forward on the MDGs, it is important to explore some of the waysthese development objectives are being undermined, directly and indirectly, by theeffects—current and anticipated—of climate change.MDG 8: Develop a global partnership for developmentMDG 8 always comes at the end of the MDG inventory, but the centrality of partnershipsto achieving the MDGs—among governments, multilateral institutions, donors, civilsociety, the private sector, and communities – compels us to prioritize it – hence itsplacement in this document. Such partnerships, including accountability for donor aidand government spending of that aid, must also underpin solutions to climate change.While the Millennium Declaration, agreed by the UN General Assembly in 2000, did notmention climate change, it affirmed several values that provide a basis for joiningpolicy, practice, and funding for achieving the MDGs with a commitment to climatejustice. These include: Equality. No individual and no nation must be denied the opportunity to benefit from development. The equal rights and opportunities of women and men must be assured. Solidarity. Global challenges must be managed in a way that distributes the costs and burdens fairly in accordance with basic principles of equity and social justice. Those who suffer or who benefit least deserve help from those who benefit most; and Respect for nature. Prudence must be shown in the management of all living species and natural resources, in accordance with the precepts of sustainable development. Only in this way can the immeasurable riches provided to us by nature be preserved and passed on to our descendants. The current unsustainable patterns of production and consumption must be changed in the interest of our future welfare and that of our descendants.5Climate change is arguably the starkest example of a threat the community of nationshas had to tackle. However, too many of the world’s governments, along withmultilateral organizations, are still acting as if achieving the MDGs and arresting climatechange are separate mandates. The UN processes and forums that deal withdevelopment have little if any overlap with the UN Framework Convention on ClimateChange processes; the negotiators and other responsible staff are different and rarelyinteract. And the self-interestedness of states in negotiating climate change is moreakin to the contentious world trade negotiations than to the cooperation and dialoguethat takes place for development. A different approach is needed—and urgently—onethat clearly links problem analysis and policy and program development for the MDGswith climate justice. …The severity of climate change is only being felt in the rural areas where small populations reside often in isolation and thus their voices are not being heard… The presentation of actual experiences of women in their daily lives must be shared with the public so that climate change can become an issue more widely5 All, United Nations Millennium Declaration, I.6. http://www.un.org/millennium/declaration/ares552e.htm 7
discussed and acted upon. - Aishia Gladford, GCAP Botswana women and climate change hearingRealizing the shared agenda for ending dehumanizing poverty and ensuring climatejustice will require one human family working together, not a retreat to the staledivisions of north and south, rich and poor. Political leaders and citizens mustcommunicate openly and effectively. Governments, civil society organizations, theprivate sector and others actors must redouble their efforts to forge a sense ofshared responsibility across national boundaries. Failing to meet the MDGs andfailing to act decisively on climate change are real threats. Development progress madeover decades lies in the balance. The price of inaction, for justice, equity, sustainability,and human rights, are immeasurably large.MDG 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hungerWhile poverty rates have fallen, the number of people living on less than $1.25 a dayhas risen to at least 1.4 billion, about one-quarter of people living in the developingworld.6 Climate change is making the lives of people who live in poverty morechallenging, eroding sources of consistent income, and straining coping strategies usedto survive hardship. The growing lack of predictability in weather, and the increasednumber of climate shocks, are disrupting individual and household planning andbudgeting, closing off avenues to climb out of poverty.Agriculture in particular is already being hard hit by the effects of climate change. This,in turn, puts food security under threat for people now, and for the approximately 3billion people to be added to the global population by 2050. More than 1.2 billion peopleare hungry today, and 7 of 10 of them are women and girls.7The majority of the world’s farmers who are wholly or largely dependent on rainfall, notirrigation, to water their crops will be affected most severely. For many, what they growis what their families and communities eat. And even in regions where industrializedagriculture has become more widespread, small farmers continue to have an importantrole in ensuring national food security. When weather reduces mobility, movingharvested crops will be affected. Decent harvests become more elusive duringdroughts, floods, and periods of intense heat or cold. As they do, the incidence ofpoverty will rise, and with it, hunger. Small producers have the most to lose. Nearly onebillion people—915 million—consumed fewer than 2,100 calories a day between 2006and 2008, according to The World Bank, an increase from 873 million in 2004-06.8If the global temperature increases by 2 to 3 degrees Celsius, the UN Food andAgriculture Organization (FAO) projects that the yield from crops watered by rain onlywill drop significantly in some African regions. Desertification and rising salinity of soils6 World Bank, Poverty Reduction and Equity, “New Data Show 1.4 Billion Live On Less Than US$1.25 A Day,But Progress Against Poverty Remains Strong,” August 26, 2008.http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTPOVERTY/0,,contentMDK:21881954~menuPK:336998~pagePK:64020865~piPK:149114~theSitePK:336992,00.html7 UN Development Programme, “Fast Facts: Millennium Development Goals.” June 2010.http://www.undp.org/publications/fast-facts/FF-mdg.pdf8 World Bank, Data, “Progress toward the MDGs, but much remains to be done,” 2010, accessed August2010. http://data.worldbank.org/news/significant-progress-towards-achieving-MDGs 8
will also challenge food production in parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America.9 Yields ofrice, a critical staple food for billions of people, are likely to be negatively impacted byrising temperatures in Asia, where 90% of the world’s rice is produced, according to theFAO. A drop in rice production will mean more hunger and poverty.10 The Hadley Centerfor Climate Change predicts that by 2100, arid and semi-arid regions in sub-SaharanAfrica will increase by 60 to 90 million hectares (150–222 million acres). As a result, US$26 billion in potential income could be lost by 2060 in these drought-prone regions.That is more than the sum of bilateral aid to sub-Saharan Africa in 2005.11In addition, securing employment or enjoying the right to work are likely to becomemore difficult as harsh weather disrupts transportation systems (flooding out roads orrailways) and industries like tourism. The health of workers may be affected negatively,too, with infectious disease rates likely to rise in some regions. A gender dimensionexists here, too. In agriculture, tourism, and matters of workforce health, women are setto be affected more than men by the impacts of global warming, according to theInternational Labour Organisation.12 UGANDA: FLOODS, DROUGHT, AND ADVANCING THE MDGS At local levels in communities in both the south and north, women are taking the lead in addressing the cascading effects of climate change. Constance Okollet is the chairperson of the Osukuru United Women’s Network in eastern Uganda, which includes more than 40 organizations. In 2007, heavy rains fell on Constance’s village, destroying homes and the food supply and displacing all of the residents. An unprecedented drought followed, leading to more hunger and disruption. Constance is also one of the Climate Wise Women, a group of women leaders from across the world dedicated to sharing their experiences of climate change, and what they and their communities are doing about it and want to see done, with policy-makers, civil society, other local communities, and the media. The Osukuru Women’s Network runs several programmes designed to increase resilience to climate shocks and advance the MDGs. To promote MDG 1, the network has a savings and credit programme so members can start and sustain small market enterprises like selling produce and paraffin. Proceeds meet basic family needs for food and clothing. To combat hunger, network members plant crops early and use seeds that germinate quickly to take advantage of the now shortened period of seasonal rains.While “green jobs” offer potential new employment opportunities (e.g. in non fossil fuelenergy production) that would link MDG 1 and MDG 7, it is important to note that some9 UN Food and Agriculture Organization, “Profile for Climate Change,” Rome: FAO, 2009.ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/012/i1323e/i1323e00.pdf10 UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Media center, “Hotter nights threaten food security – rice at risk,”August 9, 2010. http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/44618/icode/11 UN Development Programme, Fighting Climate Change: Human Solidarity in a Divided World, HumanDevelopment Report 2007/2008, New York: UNDP, 2007.12 International Labour Organisation, Governing Body, International Labour Office, Working Party on theSocial Dimension of Globalisation, “Decent work for sustainable development – The challenge of climatechange,” WP/SDG, Geneva: ILO, November 2007. http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---ed_norm/---relconf/documents/meetingdocument/wcms_084890.pdf 9
such jobs can be dirty and dangerous, and fall short of the definition of decent work.The lack of reliable sources of energy is an important facet of the persistence of povertyand lagging development. As such, creating new sources of green energy throughstable jobs with good working conditions will advance MDG 1 as well as climate justice. Farm lands have been taken away by floods and water bodies have dried up. Now farmers can’t predict when it will be raining, when to plant, and when to expect their harvest. The change in rainfall pattern[s] has made life in the community unbearable. - Farmer from Monze, Zambia Climate Justice Hearing, 2009MDG 2: Achieve universal primary educationThe effects of climate change influence the likelihood of children entering andremaining in school in several ways. If parents’ livelihoods are negatively affected byerratic weather—harvests fail, drought wipes out livestock, business infrastructure isdamaged, employment opportunities are lost—school fees or the costs of uniforms,books, and transportation can become insurmountable hurdles. Or the disruption ofdaily routines by extreme weather events may close off opportunities for children toattend primary school; girls are likely to be the most affected.Women in India whose early childhoods in the 1970s included experience of drought orflooding were nearly 20% less likely to have attended primary school than women ofthe same age and born into similar socio-economic circumstances, but whose earlychildhoods did not feature either drought or floods.13 Girls who begin primary schoolmay be required by parents to skip a year (or more) or stop attending classes entirelywhere their labor is deemed essential to help counter household ecological deficitsrelated to climate change, such as declining local availability of water or wood forcooking and heating.Extreme weather events can also damage or destroy school buildings, and the roads orpaths on which children and their teachers travel. For children in primary school,privations such as hunger, a lack of water, or financial and emotional distress amongfamily members during an event like a drought, can impede academic focus andachievement. The knock-on effects are considerable, among them constraints onopportunities for higher education or the joining of training programs or certain careers.Lifelong developmental potential may be affected, and with it the chance to surmountthe cycle of inter-generational poverty.Climate-related shocks are also fueling increased migration, both temporary and morepermanent. For the children of climate refugees, primary schools may simply beunavailable (in, for example, camps, informal settlements, or remote regions) orunaffordable. Moreover, in unsettled conditions, children’s education often falls downthe family’s list of priorities. As it does, adult health status, prospects for independenceand autonomy, and progress toward equality across genders and economic classesbecome increasingly uncertain.13 Human Development Report Office, UN Development Programme, “The Effects of Climate-RelatedDisasters on Human Development,” HD Insights, HDR Networks, December 2007, Issue 15. 10
Water is increasingly becoming scarce now. We have to walk long distances in search of water and do our household chores before going to school. The yields from our farms are now poorer and our parents can’t even afford three-square meals a day; much less provide us with school materials. This is really affecting our studies and academic performance. - Students from Tumu Basic School, Upper West Ghana, GCAP Ghana climate justice hearingMDG 3: Promote gender equality and empower womenClimate change is also hampering progress toward women’s and girl’s equality andempowerment, with critical, long-term effects for individual women and societiesoverall. For women in poor countries, global warming means more and harder work:they and often their daughters must spend more time and energy venturing further tosecure water and firewood as streams go dry, groundwater dwindles, and forests andother vegetation fall sway to drought or severe storms that bring floods and mudslides.Widespread energy poverty also has specific gender impacts. Where no other source offuel is available women and girls must apportion hours a day to securing sufficientsupplies. As they do, they also forfeit time that could be spent on income-generatingactivities, training, education, or participation in community and public life. In addition,women are the majority of the world’s farmers, producing between 60% and 80% offood in most developing nations.14 Drought, heat, floods, and the resulting dislocationinterrupt harvest cycles and deny women secure livelihoods. Given their central role infood production, this puts household, community, and even national food security atrisk. In addition, in many households it is a woman’s income that funds children’sschooling, clothing, and health care. Without it, progress toward the MDGs for educationand health is slowed. Experience over decades and in numerous countries also confirmsthat without greater gender equality, arresting the spread of HIV/AIDS and combatingmaternal and child mortality (addressed in MDGs 4-6) cannot be achieved. COMMUNITIES ADDRESS CLIMATE JUSTICE AND GENDER People living in poverty are often forgotten or excluded from key decisions made around policy interventions. Genuine and sustainable solutions to climate change and poverty can only be found with the participation, approval, and leadership of those living in poverty. In 2009, GCAP and its Feminist Task Force organized a series of Climate Justice and Poverty Hearings and Women and Climate Change Tribunals in 18 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The aim was to allow those who have been directly affected by climate change to share their stories, air their concerns, and demand a voice in policy debates on climate change. The hearings and tribunals shed light not only on the many ways communities are experiencing climate change, but also what they are doing to adapt. “…This very assembly bears testimony to the courage and conviction of so many ordinary people who have risen to the occasion with a great sense of hope and compassion,” reads the “Women’s Charter on Climate Justice” produced during the gender and climate change tribunal in India. Participants around the world14 UN Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO Focus, “Women and Food Security.”http://www.fao.org/FOCUS/E/Women/Sustin-e.htm 11
have undertaken a number of follow-up actions. These include drafting of a “Declaration of Climate Communities,” launched at the COP15 climate summit in 2009. “This event has provided us with an opportunity to begin to redesign public policies and reaffirm ourselves as citizens,” said Alvaro Sapag at the climate justice and poverty hearing in Chile. “The tribunal created the platform and opportunity to hear from the women who directly bear the impact of climate change and polluted farmlands, which has led to low crop yield and impoverishment of the people, of women and children in particular,” said Caroline Usikpedo Omoniye from the Niger Delta: “It has led to further plans for actions, like rural mobilizations and advocacy and awareness campaigns on climate change.”MDGs 4, 5 and 6: Reduce child mortality; Improve maternal health; CombatHIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases (improve health for all)Global warming also has critical implications for achieving the health related MDGs andprogressively realizing the right to health. Extreme weather threatens water systems,power generation, food production and storage, shelter, and the means and ease oftransportation. All these factors can put needed health care out of reach, or compoundthe incidence of disease. For instance, progress toward maternal health requires womenbeing able to access care while pregnant and during and after delivery.If roads are impassable because of floods, or electricity is unavailable in a hospital orhealth center due to a drought, maternal care may be compromised, with potentiallydire results. In addition, as climate change affects food availability and food prices,pregnant women living in poverty are more likely to become malnourished, putting theirhealth, and that of their unborn child, at greater risk. A lack of adequate, nutritious food—a likely result of drought, high heat, extreme cold or floods that disrupt or destroycrops—can lead to weaker immune systems, rendering individuals more susceptible tocommunicable diseases. Moreover, if the effects of global warming cause householdincomes to fall, treatment for child malnutrition, HIV/AIDS, malaria, or tuberculosis maybecome unaffordable.Global warming also affects the availability of potable water. Droughts constrain watervolume, while floods or storms often contaminate it—raising the risk of intestinaldiseases that can be fatal to infants and children under 5. According to UNICEF, vector-,water- and air-born diseases that are the primary causes of child death or illnesses willincrease with climate change. Moreover, immunization and breast-feeding are lesslikely to occur during natural disasters, with long-term, negative impacts on children’shealth.15 Studies done in Kenya and Ethiopia for the UN Development Programme’s2007/2008 Human Development Report found that children 5 or younger born in Kenyaduring a drought were 36% more likely to be malnourished than those not born in atime of drought. In Ethiopia, the impact was even greater: children under 5 born duringdroughts were 50%, more likely to be malnourished.16 In South Asia, 40% of children are15 Akachi, Yoko, et al., “Global Climate Change and Child Health: A review of pathways, impacts andmeasures to improve the evidence base,” UNICEF Innocenti Research Center Discussion paper, IDP No.2009-03, June 2009. www.unicef-irc.org 12
underweight, along with 25% of children in sub-Saharan Africa.17The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that diarrheal diseases, malnutrition,malaria, and dengue fever are extremely sensitive to climatic changes and are likely toworsen as climate change intensifies.18 Malaria, for example, is being found in regionswhere it was all but unknown. In the East African highlands, researchers concluded thata half-degree temperature rise between 1950 and 2002 resulted in a significantincrease in the mosquito population and, with it, the chances of malarial infection.19 Therisk of contracting HIV/AIDS, often found in higher rates in mobile populations especiallyof men, may also rise as individuals are forced by climate change to migrate far fromhome in search of sufficient water, fuel, land, or employment. In addition, ongoingtreatment for HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis, or preventive education, can beinterrupted if mobility is constrained. Women and caretakers of farms suffer most. We walk long distances to fetch dried firewood, hunt for water, and sell farm produce. The size and quality of our food crops have deteriorated over the years. The sun is squeezing comfort, good health, and life out of our village. This climate change has negatively impacted our tradition and lifestyle. - Women leaders in Tumu, GCAP Ghana climate justice hearingMDG 7: Ensure environmental sustainabilityUntil relatively recently, MDG 7 has been underemphasized. But this is changing, andseveral UN agencies and civil society organizations are tracking progress toward it—andrights to water and a clean and healthy environment—with increased focus.MDG 7 is relevant to both rural and urban regions, and climate change is affectingprogress toward meeting the goal in both contexts. According to the MillenniumEcosystem Assessment (MEA), 60 percent of the Earth’s ecosystem services essential tohuman society, such as providing fresh water, cleaning the air, and pollinating crops,are currently degraded or being used in unsustainable ways. “Any progress achieved inaddressing the goals of poverty and hunger eradication, improved health, andenvironmental protection is unlikely to be sustained,” if disruption of ecosystemservices goes on, the authors of the MEA wrote.20Climate change is putting new pressures on ecosystems: desertification from heat,drought, and the melting of glaciers, and the migration or extinction of species thatmaintain ecosystem health and support livelihoods. In rural areas, individuals andcommunities that depend on natural resources will experience greater hardship, and16 UN Development Programme, Fighting Climate Change: Human Solidarity in a Divided World, HumanDevelopment Report 2007/2008, New York: UNDP, 2007.17 World Bank, Data, “Progress toward the MDGs, but much remains to be done,” 2010, accessed August2010. http://data.worldbank.org/news/significant-progress-towards-achieving-MDGs18 World Health Organization, Media centre, “Climate change and health,” January 2010.http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs266/en/index.html19 Science Daily, “Warming Trend May Contribute to Malaria’s Rise,” March 22, 2006.http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060322142101.htm20 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, “Experts say that attention to ecosystem services is needed toachieve global development goals,” March 30, 2005. http://www.maweb.org/en/article.aspx?id=58 13
the potential for a deepening of poverty, as ecosystems become less productive andless resilient to climate shifts. A vicious circle can be unleashed: increased exploitationin a desperate scramble for survival—and plunging prospects for sustainabledevelopment. About half the world’s people now live in cities. A rise in globaltemperatures of 3 to 4 degrees Celsius may lead to the displacement of more than 300million people on a temporary or permanent basis due to flooding, according to the UNDevelopment Programme.21New research suggests that IPCC 2007 estimates of anticipated sea level rises werelow, and that the increase will be more substantial: 75 to 190 centimeters (29.5 to 75inches) overall in the period between 1990 and 2100.22 Among those hardest hit will bethe world’s approximately 1 billion slum dwellers.23 Not only do rising seas threatencoastal cities; tropical storms and cyclones also wreak havoc on low-lying settlements,and inland flooding is becoming more common. As a result, the often-informalinfrastructure of slums (paths, water points, jerry-rigged electricity, homes built fromflimsy materials) is threatened, as are employment and schooling opportunities forslum-dwellers.Availability of water has a crucial affect on MDG 7 targets. By 2080, about 1.8 billionadditional people could be living in environments deemed water-scarce, disruptingagriculture and human habitation.24 But threats from climate change also come in theform of too much water, from more intense storms, floods, and sea level rises. Both toolittle and too much water are threats – they can damage, interrupt, or set back effortsto provide clean water and sanitation for the more than a billion people who lack them. Where I live, water is now a rare commodity. I am therefore forced to buy it. My employer pays me the same amount of wages, yet I have added responsibilities of buying expensive water and food. When water was abundant, many of us cultivated our own vegetables. Now you need at least 100 shillings to take care of your whole family. Many of us only have one meal a day, yet it is our right to have three meals in a day. - Nicholas Araka, Kasarani, GCAP Kenya climate justice hearingYet many resources are available to mitigate climate change, along with enormousenergy and appetite to bring about the next “industrial revolution” for green power.Across Africa, Asia, and Latin America, 1.6 billion people lack a household energysource. Efforts to reduce energy poverty also offer direct support for the MDGs; cleanenergy in homes, schools, health centers, enterprises, and government institutionswould improve health, accelerate gender equality, facilitate education, and contributeto environmental sustainability. A number of such initiatives are underway. Although21 UN Development Programme, Fighting Climate Change: Human Solidarity in a Divided World, HumanDevelopment Report 2007/2008, New York: UNDP, 2007.22 Vermeer, Martin and Stefan Rahmstorf, “Global sea level linked to global temperature,” Proceedings ofthe National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, PNAS Early Edition, December 4, 2009.http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/12/04/0907765106.full.pdf23 UN-Habitat, “Statement by Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka, Secretary General & Executive Director, UNFCCC,High Level Segment, 2007. http://www.unhabitat.org/content.asp?cid=5502&catid=550&typeid=8&subMenuId=024 UN Development Programme, Fighting Climate Change: Human Solidarity in a Divided World, HumanDevelopment Report 2007/2008, New York: UNDP, 2007. 14
most are small in scale, each can offer valuable information to guide implementation ofthe large-scale efforts that are essential.In Kenya, the “Lighting the Way to Leadership” project is bringing lighting to Maasaiwomen through a partnership between the Caucus for Womens Leadership, a KenyanNGO, and the U.K.-based NGO, Lifeline Energy. Distribution of “lifelights,” which featurelong-lasting, low energy LEDs (light emitting diodes) have allowed the women to reducetheir use of firewood and kerosene-powered ‘koroboys’ for illumination after the sungoes down (none of the women have electricity from the national grid.) Keroseneproduces toxic fumes that coat the insides of houses and also invade women’s lungsand eyes as they cook. The lifelights are powered by green energy: small solar panelsor a hand-turned crank. With the lifelight, women have been able to continue householdchores and traditional beadwork into the evening. The project also seeks to facilitatethe women’s participation in local governance structures, as well as exploration oflivelihood options. Lifeline Energy is set to launch a lifelight project in South Africatargeting students, particularly girls, so they can continue their studies at night.25The development and human rights challenges faced by people across the world aredaunting. But the resilience and resourcefulness of communities across the world in theexamples above are equally notable. As is clear from the examples presented above,when addressing climate change and achieving the MDGs are linked more closely inanalysis, problem-solving and policy change, progress on both will be swifter.25 “Lighting the Way to Leadership Launches in Kenya” Media center, Lifeline Energy.http://lifelineenergy.org/NC_LightingtheWaytoLeadership.html 15