Climate action should safeguard wellbeing of women and girls

17Feb 2021
The Guardian
Climate action should safeguard wellbeing of women and girls

​​​​​​​Human activities can change earth's climate, and are presently driving climate change through global warming.  There is no general agreement in scientific, media or policy documents as to the precise term to be used to refer to anthropogenic forced change; either  global warming or-

-climate change may be used. The first describes the average effect on a global scale, whilst the second describes how different geographical regions are affected differently.

Climate change occurs when changes in Earth's climate system result in new weather patterns that last for at least a few decades, and maybe for millions of years. The climate system comprises five interacting parts, the atmosphere (air), hydrosphere (water), cryosphere (ice and permafrost), biosphere (living things), and lithosphere (earth's crust and upper mantle). The climate system receives nearly all of its energy from the sun, with a relatively tiny amount from earth's interior. The climate system also gives off energy to outer space. The balance of incoming and outgoing energy, and the passage of the energy through the climate system, determines Earth's energy budget. When the incoming energy is greater than the outgoing energy, earth's energy budget is positive and the climate system is warming. If more energy goes out, the energy budget is negative and earth experiences cooling.

The impact of climate change is already being felt and is projected to intensify significantly over the next 10 years.

During the Nairobi Summit in Kenya in 2019, a signature session on climate change adaptation and justice focused on the centrality of solutions driven by and aimed at safeguarding the wellbeing of women and girls, young people and marginalised groups, who bear the brunt of climate change and environmental degradation.

Fast forward to 2020: the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed systemic vulnerabilities, inequalities, and lack of protection, bringing new threats to and new impacts for women and girls, young people and, indeed, all people. UNFPA is stepping up its game to ensure that adaptation responses are rights focused, gender sensitive and people centered.

Women and girls suffer from vulnerabilities exacerbated by climate change, including rapidly expanding food insecurity, inadequate access to safe, clean water and improved sanitation, and inadequate access to essential health and gender-based violence services.

We must protect progress on the transformative results from the effects of climate change, and we must enhance our humanitarian preparedness and response to climate-related emergencies.

The webinar presented UNFPA’s value proposition and provided direction for engagement and discussion with climate change champions and activists such as governments, youth-led organisations, donors and civil society groups, with a clear offer of support on climate change policies and actions.

It is imperative that we move with speed to implement climate action as we build stronger, safer and more resilient communities and systems that will safeguard the livelihoods of all, including women and girls, to ensure that no one is left behind.

Climate change is a development emergency and it has the potential to derail the achievements of our transformative results, so indeed, we need to step up.

“There is no time like now to ensure that we all know and understand what value we can bring to the table … but even more importantly, to begin to enable and equip each and every one to not only be advocates for this agenda, but to see how that impacts and integrates into the societies.

Young people, who have championed the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), should be   partners in building youth resilience and that of their communities, and in transforming societies towards low carbon emissions, climate resilience, and equitable and inclusive development.

We have to listen to their young people’s voices and they need to be part of decision-making for the future.Through its blue-print document on climate change, UNFPA aims to ensure that its three transformative results are achieved and sustained amid the worsening climate crisis

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