Climate Change: A Cross Cutting Issue

Fri, 02/01/2008

It is critical that climate change not be approached as an isolated, stand-alone issue, but as part and parcel of overall sustainable development efforts and integrated into national strategies for poverty eradication through new and innovative approaches to policy formulation and implementation and partnerships with diverse stakeholders. Accordingly, interventions relating to adaptation to climate change should be considered in the context of reducing the vulnerability of the poor in maintaining sustainable livelihoods and supporting sustainable development.

Protection of natural resources is of utmost importance in countries with large rural populations dependent on local agriculture for survival. Droughts and flooding, intensified by climate change, can lead to famine and loss or contamination of water supplies. Deforestation due to population pressures can accelerate land degradation, increasing the vulnerability of the poorest communities.

The linkages between poverty and the environment, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is engaged in initiatives to promote sustainable management of natural resources – land, water and biological assets on which poor communities rely.

In over 90% of UNDP program countries, UNDP implements environment-related projects. These include:

-Environmental Sustainability
-Poverty Alleviation
-Combating Hunger
-Health
-Education
-Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment

Poverty Alleviation: Social safety nets and traditional coping strategies may be disrupted by climate-related disasters at the same time as there is damage to homes, businesses and community infrastructure. Disaster prediction and preventive measures can minimize vulnerability to impacts that could increase the numbers of people experiencing disruption, displacement, poverty.

For long-term poverty alleviation, access to energy is a critical factor for enterprise development and income generation. Emphasis should be placed on expanding the availability of energy sources that are climate-friendly and energy efficient, using renewable energy technologies and clean fuels.

Combating Hunger: People relying on subsistence agriculture and natural resource harvesting (fishing, hunting and forestry) will be among those most impacted by climate variability. It is important to consider the potential for crop diversification and developing alternative income and food sources. Ecosystem management improvements may also be able to reduce vulnerability related to erosion, land degradation, flooding, desertification and drought.