Climate change has already resulted in extreme weather events of greater severity in past years and will continue to exacerbate the situation, leading to more disasters especially among vulnerable populations that have not prepared well to face this increasing challenge.
Disaster Risk Reduction programs are essential in assisting all at-risk populations in risk reduction, prevention or management strategies to cope with such disasters.
Chronic climate change will displace populations directly, as a result of intolerable changes to their living environment (or the loss of it due to sea level rise, glacial melt or erosion), or indirectly, as a result of human conflict over diminishing resources.
Where threats cannot be averted, climate risk and vulnerability assessments are tools that may help in facilitating community preparedness and developing appropriate migration and resettlement plans.
Resilience and adaptability to climate change is highest among populations with greater relative access to education and other forms of state-sponsored public goods as their governments are more likely to invest in disaster preparedness and risk reduction initiatives.
The rights to education and knowledge are vital to formulating sustainable responses to climate change challenges as is the importance of public investments in disaster protection and mitigation.
Climate change is related to energy at many levels: from the unlocking of energy from fossil fuels trapped underground for millions of years, to the ever-increasing energy use that propels nations to industrialization and development. Fossil fuels brought us modernity and progress as well as human-induced climate change. While nations negotiate their rights to continue emitting greenhouse gases (GHG) through UNFCCC processes, the rights of developing countries to equitable levels of energy-based services to continue their development should be respected.
Establishing credible GHG emission-reducing clean energy solutions in developing countries helps them to achieve this while enabling them to participate in the global carbon market to further fund sustainability initiatives.
Climate change affects food security directly through the chronic impacts of changed weather patterns on agricultural output; indirectly, climate change affects food security through human consumption choices by diverting arable land and grains to animal feed or biofuels. Climate change affects food security through the acute impacts of extreme weather events on lives and assets.
Sustainable consumption choices, sustainable agricultural practices and water management, climate-hardy crops and disaster risk reduction are among the essential strategies for developing and sustaining food security resilience against climate change.
Climate change has a greater impact on women where they are afforded less access to education and other rights than men because they may be limited to marginalized livelihoods that expose them to higher climate-related risks or have lower capacity to develop resilience through sustainable coping strategies.
Gender equity enables all members of the human family to equally contribute to and benefit from developing and sustaining community resilience against climate change.
Climate change impacts health mainly by creating favorable conditions for diseases to breed and mutate, and spread further geographically. Indirectly, climate change increases disease risk through extreme weather events that lead to unhygienic conditions favorable to the spread of diseases. Reduced food security resulting from climate change also contributes to poor nutritional status and weakened immune systems, further increasing health risks.
Interventions with food products or supplements fortified with essential vitamins and minerals may be essential to protect those already vulnerable to hidden hunger and poor health against the increased risks posed by climate change challenges.
Through the impacts of climate change on food security, livelihoods, and health and nutrition, hunger and poverty affecting the most vulnerable populations will only worsen as resources, assets and opportunities are diminished. Climate change will result in a world where disparities between the haves and the have-nots become increasingly more pronounced.
The technical solutions to prevent this are available and discussed in other sections. However, there is a need to reconnect with faith and compassion to motivate the changes in attitude, thinking and behavior necessary to ensure our shared future is a just and equitable one. Sustainable Consumption is an essential outcome that must be worked on by a partnership between consumers, producers and government to ensure there will be ‘Enough For All.’
Climate change affects livelihoods through the chronic impacts of changed weather patterns on seasonal or weather-dependent employment as well as the well being of the consumer base. Climate change affects livelihoods through the acute impacts of extreme weather events on lives and assets. Indirectly, unsustainable livelihoods, such as forest clearing, also contribute to climate change impacts on population well being and resilience.
The identification of and transition to more sustainable forms of livelihood, based on context, are essential for developing and sustaining livelihood resilience against climate change.
With the world population at over six billion today, climate change is exacerbated by the increasing pressure placed on natural resources. While there is a wide disparity of access to consumer goods and services between the richest and poorest populations, the transition of emerging economies into industrialization and the rapidly growing middle class in some large countries mean that the pressure on nature will only get worse.
Changing consumption patterns and lifestyles to promote fairness and resource savings, while respecting environmental limits and common values, (Sustainable Consumption) is essential to ensure the sustainability of our natural resources. For developing world populations, it is essential to ensure rights to food, water and shelter.
It is ironic that we spend millions to launch probes to the Moon, Mars and other planets in the Solar System in search of water when, here on Earth, what freshwater we have very often is not managed well. Water is highly sensitive to the climate, while also influencing it. The effects of climate change on human populations are generally mediated through water – too little of it in some parts of the world (drought, desertification) and too much in others (floods, storms, sea level rise).
Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) is a key strategy to ensuring the proper stewardship of freshwater resources, sustainability of local water infrastructure, and hence our resilience against climate change impacts on water.