Climate change impacts health, gender equality, economic growth and food insecurity: Report

The report titled ‘Our Uncommon Future: Intersectionality of Climate Change and SDGs in the Global South’ recognises the differentiated impact of climate change on global north and global south

August 01, 2023 08:53 pm | Updated 09:16 pm IST - MYSURU

Security was beefed at Hotel Radisson Blu in Mysuru, where a three-day Think20 Summit began on Monday, July 31.

Security was beefed at Hotel Radisson Blu in Mysuru, where a three-day Think20 Summit began on Monday, July 31. | Photo Credit: M.A. Sriram

Climate change impacts various aspects of United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including health, education, poverty reduction, economic growth, gender equality, besides exacerbating food insecurity and malnutrition, according to a report presented during the ongoing Think20 Summit in Mysuru.

The report titled “Our Uncommon Future: Intersectionality of Climate Change and SDGs in the Global South” recognises the differentiated impact of climate change on global north and global south.

“Despite climate change being posed as a global common, its impacts are differentiated. The differential impacts of global climate change on the global north and south definitely does not augur well with posing the hypothesis as “common future” for the planet. Therefore, this volume takes up the case for differentiated future, keeping in mind the concerns of the global south; that makes the case for an ‘uncommon’ future,” the report said.

Discussing the report with The Hindu, Neera Nundy, co-founder and partner, Dasra, a strategic philanthropy organisation, said climate change was a deeply intersectional issue and its impact cuts across almost all sectors.

Climate change can not only exacerbate food insecurity and malnutrition by reducing agricultural productivity and increasing the frequency and severity of droughts, floods and other extreme weather events, but also contribute to the spread of diseases such as malaria and dengue fever, which disproportionately affect the poorest and most vulnerable populations.

Thus, climate change hinders the achievement of SDGs, especially in the developing and underdeveloped world, which are most vulnerable to its impacts.

With regard to SDG 15 pertaining to Life on Land, the report refers to the 1.2 degree rise in global mean temperature since the pre-industrial period that has also been accompanied by “rapid decimation” of natural capital. “The 2022 SDG progress report also estimates a net loss of around 100 million hectares of forest area between 2000 and 2020”.

Climate-related extreme weather events accelerate habitat loss and fragmentation, negatively affecting biodiversity, particularly in vulnerable ecosystems such as tropical rainforests, coral reefs, mangroves and grasslands. The loss of essential ecosystem services that support biodiversity leads to death and out-migration of many wildlife species, exacerbating human-wildlife conflicts, the report said.

Pointing out that the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), a not-for-profit think tank, has estimated that India would require around 4 per cent of country’s land to be utilised for power generation by 2050 to achieve the net zero targets, the report said it will necessitate large scale land use changes affecting several ecosystems, particularly forests and grasslands.

Hence, the report has recommended Nature-Based Solutions (NbS) for addressing climate change and biodiversity challenges by taking such initiatives at scale in sectors like protecting existing natural ecosystems, ecological restoration, nature-based adaptation, nature-based city planning and agroforestry.

The report also pointed out that cities were experiencing increasing multi-dimensional climate risks, often exacerbated by underinvestment in resilient infrastructure and sustainable human settlements. “Cities in developing countries, which will accommodate the majority of new urban residents, face greater climate risks and higher economic losses,” the report said.

While extreme temperatures were endangering the lives and health of people living in poorly ventilated, hot and crowded homes, especially in low-income urban slum dwellers, the rise in cooling demands has sparked an increase in the energy requirements.

To address these challenges, recommendations include mainstreaming climate resilience in urban governance, developing climate-resilient infrastructure, promoting sustainable waste management and implementing low-carbon mobility options while involving citizens in climate action, the report said.

Neera Nundy said that more than 100 NGOs had shared their inputs for the report, which was launched at a side-event of T20 as it takes up the Indian case in the year of its G20 presidency. “The recommendations will be taken up by T20 and eventually by G20 for robust climate action,” she said.

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