POVERTY AND CLIMATE CHANGE
We recognize climate change to be a cross cutting reality—undermining attempts to promote social development, violating human rights and destabilizing societies through civil conflict. It presents a real and dire threat to all but especially to the human security of people living in poverty, rendering them even more vulnerable and less resilient to the social, economic and environmental stresses in their societies.
Climate change and social development
Climate change is considered the defining human development issue of our generation, with the potential to obstruct efforts to implement the Millennium Development Goals [i] e.g. eradication of extreme poverty and hunger (MDG1); achievement of universal primary education (MDG 2); promotion of gender equality (MDG 3); combatting major diseases, reducing infant mortality and improving maternal health (MDG 4, 5,6) Thus, climate change undermines attempts to eradicate poverty, reversing progress in social development and so consigning the poorest 40% of the world’s citizens to even greater poverty and diminished opportunity.
Climate change and human rights
In 2008, the U.N. Human Rights Council adopted by consensus a resolution on human rights and climate change[ii], recognizing that it poses an immediate and far-reaching threat to people and communities around the world with implications for the full enjoyment of human rights. We concur with the resolution. Poverty is a violation of human rights, exacerbated by climate change which threatens the right to life (UDHR 3); right to sources of livelihood (UDHR 25); right to participation (UDHR 21 and 27); right to capacity development (UDHR 23 & 26).
Climate change and social stability
While climate change is not the sole cause of violent conflicts, it does serve as a trigger in the face of scarce resources, especially where resource competition between local and resettled populations, in the case of climate induced migration, worsens pre-existing ethnic or social tensions. [iii] Thus it creates conditions that lead to social destabilization and obstructs the implementation of policies that promote poverty eradication, contributing to the marginalization and vulnerability of people living in poverty. Civil conflict further degrades Earth’s life support systems—the atmosphere, land and oceans— thus adding to the threats to human security brought on by violent conflict.
It is urgent that immediate action be taken to address this crisis. We urge governments to take seriously the advice of Christiana Figueres , UNFCCC Executive Secretary, …’to take work related to climate change forward in the General Assembly and to support implementation by helping to make the necessary linkages to other important issues on your agenda. This will ensure an effective and integrated response to climate change.”[iv]
Recommendation 1 - Resilient Social Development
Government policies should incorporate adaptation to climate change into strategies for poverty reduction and eradication, thus supporting the efforts of people living in poverty to be less vulnerable and more resilient to its consequences.
Such resilient social development should be based on the following critical elements of good practice:[v]
· Community based assessment, planning, execution and evaluation
· Participation by those most directly affected by the program
· Creativity in problem solving
· Utilization of skills and knowledge of both women and men
· Multiplicity of benefits to impact the whole community
· Preservation and protection of ecological integrity
· Replicability of design and implementation
· Sustainability of the program
Recommendation 2 - New Thinking
Government policies and their implementation should also be based on a way of thinking that moves beyond economic factors to one that is holistic and integrated.
Such integrated thinking would recognize that:
· we are a part of a socially and ecologically interdependent community
· there is an interplay between the social and ecological dimensions , e.g. poverty and climate change—one leads to the other in a cyclical fashion
· climate change has social, economic and environmental impacts , all of which must be addressed in policy making for poverty eradication
· efforts to respond to these impacts, i.e. socially sustainable development and poverty eradication, are mutually supportive goals
[i] “Fighting Climate Change: Human Solidarity in a Divided World”. UNDP Human Development Report
[ii] “ Human Rights and Climate Change. Resolution 7/23”. Human Rights Council 41st Meeting.
28 March, 2008.
[iii] Jennifer Wallace, “The security dimension of climate change,” in State of the world: Into a warming
world. A Worldwatch institute report on progress towards a sustainable society. (NY: W.W. Norton &
Company, 2009),63 – 66.
[iv] Statement by Christiana Figueres, UNFCCC to the Second Committee of the Un Gneral Asembly a its 65th Session, New York 1 November 2010.
[v] Social Integration in Action: Stories from the Grassroots http://ngosocdev.wordpress.com/category/survey-on-social-integration Women’s Capacity to Cope with Climate Change, Information Sheet 6 www.ngocsw.org/women-and-climate-change/77