Climate change 122 million more people could be forced into extreme poverty

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity, with implications on health, agriculture, economy, trade, transportation and energy infrastructure that are being felt by all countries.

No longer a threat to be dealt with in the future, climate impacts, such as sea-level rise and more frequent droughts and floods, are already having devastating effects on communities and individuals. Between 2008 and 2011, approximately 87 million people were displaced due to extreme weather events. According to the World Health Organization, climate change is expected to contribute to approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress.

Developing countries are the most impacted by climate change. This is due to many factors, including the economic importance of climate-sensitive sectors for these countries (e.g. agriculture) and the limited financial and human capacity to respond to the impacts of climate change. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that by 2030, up to 122 million more people could be forced into extreme poverty due to the effects of climate change—many of them women.

Moreover, the evidence is clear that women and girls are often most impacted by the adverse effects of climate change due to a range of economic and social factors. However, while they are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, they are also key actors in building resilience and bringing about the innovative changes that are needed to address climate change in their communities. Efforts to combat climate change are more successful if women and girls play an important role.

Since climate change is a global challenge that knows no boundaries, the international community has been rallying global efforts to fight climate change. In March 2015, UN member states agreed to implement the 2030 Agenda and the accompanying Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDG Goal 13 (SDG13) calls on the international community to “take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.” To achieve SDG13, all countries will need to make efforts to accelerate and intensify their actions and investments on climate change.

The Paris Agreement, adopted by Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in December 2015, was another historic and significant step toward global climate action. Canada is taking a leadership role in implementing the Paris Agreement both at home and abroad. The agreement commits all countries, developed and developing, to take ambitious action to move toward a low-emissions and climate-resilient global economy. It also recognizes that developing countries need financial and technical support to achieve their climate goals.

A Guest Editorial