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Sustainable Development Goals: Climate Action

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The rise in extreme weather phenomena has led the UN General Assembly to include climate action in its Sustainable Development Goals Agenda 2030. In this post we will consider the consequences of natural disasters beyond their impact on the physical environment.

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If the current trend of greenhouse gas emissions continues in the atmosphere, it is a fact that the risks of natural disasters will multiply. Changes in the climate system are altering meteorological patterns and increasing both the frequency and severity of extreme phenomena.

However, climate change has an impact not only on the physical environment, but also on the economy, communities and life in whatever form it takes, and therefore represents a global challenge that heeds no borders.

Each year, disasters caused by extreme weather phenomena result in damages of $500 billion and push more than 25 million people into poverty. Specific examples    of this are Hurricane Mathewin Haiti, which claimed more than 900 lives and caused damage amounting to a third of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), or Typhoon Haiyan that claimed more than 10,000 lives in Southeast Asia and caused billions of dollars of damage.

Given the urgency of the situation, the UN has included a climate action goal in the Agenda 2030 for sustainable development.

The UN General Assembly has therefore included a climate action goal in the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development which intends to adopt urgent measures in the fight against climate change and its effects. It specifically seeks to:

  • Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries.
  • Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning.
  • Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning.
  • Implement the commitment undertaken by developed-country parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to a goal of mobilizing jointly $100 billion annually by 2020 from all sources to address the needs of developing countries in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation and fully operationalize the Green Climate Fund through its capitalization as soon as possible.
  • Promote mechanisms for raising capacity for effective climate change-related planning and management in least developed countries and small island developing States, including focusing on women, youth and local and marginalized communities.

In order to achieve the objective, it is vital to understand how climate change combines with other factors such as the lack of diligence of governments in disaster risk management and the lack of land management, environmental degradation or poverty.

In 2015, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction was adopted at the Third UN World Conference which committed member states to increase the implementation of disaster risk reduction strategies significantly. Such strategies are essential to reducing disaster mortality as well as economic losses and infrastructure damage by 2030.

Finding ways to connect measures in the fight against climate change with broader measures of disaster risk reduction is crucial. This would represent an excellent opportunity to act jointly towards Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development as well as the Paris Agreement on Climate Change which sets out measures to reduce GHG emissions through the mitigation and adaptation of ecosystems to the effects of global warming.

Not everything depends on the diligence of governments. The private sector must work to reduce its emissions and implement action plans.

The private sector is another player with an important role in meeting the Climate Action goal due to the impact it has on the climate itself and its potential for mitigation. Companies must raise awareness and implement action plans that are directed at reducing emissions and energy efficiency throughout the entire supply chain, in addition to developing risk analysis strategies associated with climate change in projects and at facilities, especially in high-risk areas.

Likewise, creating public-private partnerships is gaining momentum with non-governmental organizations, public institutions and companies to undertake projects that contribute to the fight against climate change or the collaborative efforts towards development aimed at mitigating the effects of warming in the most vulnerable communities.

Such a joint effort will undoubtedly help build a more sustainable, resilient and stable future for the planet.

Pablo Collazo Sánchez

Pablo Collazo Sánchez. Corporate Social Responsibility Department, Abengoa.

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