How do we get joined-up thinking on issues like climate change, disaster risk reduction, food security and poverty reduction? Had a chat with Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute yesterday and he suggests getting top universities to start new "systems" degrees that include classes from a variety of key areas. "Our big problem is fragmentation and specialisation of knowledge. We've been so narrowly focused, looking at our own little piece, that very few people see the big picture."
@Amina Mohammed - on your comment to @Megan, we fully agree. It's as much about how we frame climate change in the present as well as in the future. We have to act now.
@Megan - At the ground level they all raise the same set of issues – they are all things that make people vulnerable. To those who live on the front line of poverty – climate change and development are the same issues. When my Foundation co-hosted the ‘Hunger – Nutrition – Climate Justice’ conference with the Irish Government, WFP, and CGIAR CCAFS, I told the attendees, both from high-level and grassroots backgrounds: “It is clear to me, when I visit families and communities living with the daily reality of poverty, that they see no divisions between climate change, nutrition, food security and the broader issues of human development such as the protection of rights, access to decision making and accountability. All of these issues are linked, closely-related, part of the reason why people are poor, powerless, in ill-health or hungry”. I stand by this.
At the ground level people don’t put these issues in boxes, the reasons they are poor have to do with rights, access to health care, the weather, access to decision making, gender inequality etc.
To respond to their needs the international processes have to be more coherent and respond to the interconnected nature of the issues that make people poor and vulnerable.
@Mary Robinson - I agree with what you say about people on the front line, but how do we challenge and shift the power structures that are causing climate change, and most notably those countries that bear the most historic responsibility?
Maybe we need some brief job swaps or short courses to learn about the other fields we don't specialise in?
sevarl people, including Megan, have made points about a universal framework, this is an area where the post 2015 framework could be a big improvement on the MDGs. There are two ways in which the post-2015 agenda could be truly universal. Firstly, there should be targets related to sustainable consumption and production – efficiency, waste, low-carbon energy and corporate reporting, that are relevant to richer countries. There should be accountability mechanisms that apply to developed and developing countries alike. Secondly, there could be a bigger push in the area of inequality that would also apply to all countries – the growing gap between rich and poor has environmental consequences and often leads to high carbon footprint at the top and exploitation of the weakest.
@Laurie - an interesting initiative in universities is the Masters in Development Practice, involving more than 30 universities worldwide. MRFCJ has been co-operating with the two Irish universities - Trinity College and University College Dublin - to develop a module of climate justice for the curriculum of the Masters in Development Practice. I would also like to see more emphasis on linking the human rights system and the UN Human Rights Council on the negative impacts climate change is having on all human rights.
Ten minutes of our debate to go - please send in your final questions and comments for the panel...
Amy: I think you're right on that....
Mary: That's great to hear about the university initiative!
@ John - Going back to the original question for this debate - the beyond 2015 process cannot afford not to drive action on climate change, if we dont we will fail both on delivering sustainable development and eradicating poverty, as always the challenge is political will and we all need to work harder to increase accountability and strive for good governance.
@John, One way of addressing the question is to bring out the importance of the year 2015 for a coherent international architecture. By the end of 2015 we need a robust, fair climate agreement to keep us below 2 degrees above pre-industrial standards, and we need a post-2015 development agenda with SDGs that work fairly for all countries, within that 2 degrees limit.
@Megan re joined up thinking: The UN is providing leadership on the various tracks. While they remain intergovernmental, requiring agreement from all countries, coherence and coordination is critical and at the forefront of our work.
In conclusion from my side, in response to John's point and others,… If a post 2015 framework fails to respond to the challenge of climate change, it will fail in its objectives to eradicate extreme poverty and put the world on a more sustainable development pathway. This means that sustainable energy for all, climate change adaptation, DRR and building resilient communities all need to be part of the framework and climate cahnge needs to be embedded in all the goals and targets of a final framework.
To sum up, it would be great if panelists could provide a final comment on how they think post-2015 process can best address climate change going forward - a suggestion from each...
On the question of political will, national action and linkages between the processes: The #post2015 outcome needs to include measures and send signals to national governments that lead to integrated low carbon and climate resilient planning and policies. Urgent and ambitious action backed by political will from the highest levels is needed on both these fronts. Potential actions are achievable and affordable. The cost of taking action now will be much less than the cost of dealing with the consequences later.
Dear Brendan, I'm glad you brought up the issue of small island developing states. I plan to attend the Pacific Islands forum in the Marshall Islands in September to help amplify these voices. For the Pacific Islands, climate change is an all-sustaining challenge, to live in the future in the place where their ancestors have been buried.
Any 2015 climate agreement only comes into force in 2020 - we already have climate and development agreements which are not being delivered on. We have to change good intention and good words into tangible political action. Ultimately, it's about accountability, without accountability we will fail.
Climate change is a political economy issue, unless we change our political and economic priorities we won't get the changes we need.
To sum up from my side, a climate justice approach necessarily links the imapcts of climate change and the need for sustainable development. Climate justice respects the science, supports the right to development of developing countries, and believes we need to have a greater sense of the interconnectedness of the risks from climate change if we don't stay below the two degrees Celsius.
In conclusion from my end:
Climate change and global poverty have attracted considerable attention in recent years as key global justice challenges of our times. Both are serious challenges to the health and prosperity of people and our planet. As we design the future of development, low-carbon and climate-resilient solutions need to be centre-stage. We must forge stronger alliances to speed up the collective delivery of low-emission solutions, scale-up climate finance, create jobs and deliver sustainable energy systems on a massive scale. It is time to accelerate progress and create on-the-ground impact.
An effective strategy to tackle poverty and the causes and impacts of climate change requires taking comprehensive action that encompasses both issues. Many of the actions that are needed to address climate change are also necessary to pursue poverty reduction and economic growth.
Addressing climate change requires addressing the unsustainable consumption and production patterns of rich countries. While energy is wasted in many places, there are 1.3 billion people without access to electricity. An effective climate agenda and a sustainable development agenda will help meet the goal of keeping the world’s temperature rise to within two degrees this century, while meeting the rising energy needs of poor people and countries.
Decisions on climate change must be in the interest of the most vulnerable. They must advance social protection, health, livelihoods and gender equality, and therefore they go hand in hand with efforts to achieve the MDGs. This relationship must be built on for the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.
Thanks everyone for your inputs and discussion - lets hope we can continue to find ways to work together to ensure the real change we so urgently need
We are now closing today’s debate, as our experts have to leave. We will leave the blog open for a little while for follow-up contributions. Hope you’ve found it a useful discussion! We will chew over the wealth of information and put out a summary. Thanks so much to all.
Thank you for a rich and fast moving discussion, check out www.beyond2015.org/ to see how civil society are engaging with the Post 2015 agenda. Ruth
Really interesting debate - thanks everyone!
Thanks for the debate, everyone. I found it interesting and worthwhile. For more information on the work of MRFCJ, please visit. www.mrfcj.org. All the best. MR.