Why we need Sustainable Climate Action

  • 2021-12-07
  • Guest contribution by alumnus Erick Agure
  • Comment
SDG Ziel 10: Weniger Ungleichheiten
Young African women protest against climate change
© Getty Images/LeoPatrizi

In 1987, the Brundtland Commission of the United Nations defined sustainability as “meeting the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. Hence Sustainable Development was thus defined as “the process of change in which exploitation of resources, direction of investments, orientation of technological development and institutional change are all in harmony and enhance both the current and future potential to meet human needs and aspirations”.

As of today, there are almost 140 developing countries globally that seek ways to meet their development needs and achieve growth to remedy the dire needs of their populace. However, climate change coupled with other intricate issues such as (civil) wars, pandemics and inequalities, have slowed their efforts to snail speed and sometimes reversing the gains made. In the wake of the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), the world is in dire need of actionable and urgent solutions. Delays in action further exacerbate the situation and it is time to say, “ACT NOW”.

Climate change is a collective problem

COVID-19 has most recently exposed how we are collectively vulnerable and inseparable regardless of our social and economic standing in the society. I clearly recall how the world, both the wealthy and poor nations, came to a standstill and all operations were paralyzed courtesy of the virus. A lesson I drew from the experience is that in the face of these challenging circumstances, we cannot afford to act solitary for a collective problem. Climate change is a collective problem facing all of us and the sad reality is that some countries are least prepared to counter the effects of the problem despite being the least contributors.

In the spirit of Paris Agreement on Climate Action, 196 parties committed to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, comparable to the pre-industrial levels. The agreement outlines a framework for financial, technological and capacity building support to countries who are in dire need. It recognizes the inter-dependencies between countries and their unique positionality in contributing to the problem, bearing the brunt effects of it as well as the ability to provide solutions. As a matter of fact, Africa contributes the least emissions but suffers the brunt of the consequences, contributing just 4 percent of global total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – the lowest of any region – yet its socio-economic development is threatened by the climate crisis. The World Meteorological Organization’s shows increasing climate change threats for human, health, food, and water security and socio-economic development in Africa. The continent has seen the adverse effects of drought, flooding, tropical cyclones among others.

At community levels, women and youth are most affected

For an effective global sustainable climate action, the least developed countries must be put at the heart of the negotiation. A collaborative approach is imperative in the response mechanism. The wealthy, rich countries must be able to live by the framework of the Paris agreement. This is enhanced through the advancement of environmentally safe technology and transferring the same to developing countries, effective climate finance as well as .

The havoc wreaked by climate change has exposed differential levels of vulnerability and exposure. At the same time revealing levels of preparation and structures in place by different countries to be able to respond. The impact has hit differently amongst communities and so different levels of adaptations and adjustments are necessary for an encompassing response. At the community levels, women and the youth are the most affected. This is because of their socio-economic positions and situations in societies. They have lost their livelihoods, experienced overarching health issues while at the same time they face the most structural and systematic barriers in accessing response and adaptation mechanisms. In this regard, governments, policy makers and organizations should be able to tailor their adaptation and response mechanisms around the most affected yet least prepared members of the population for this climate change agenda. Women and the youth should be at the forefront in redefining climate change policies and response mechanisms.

The youth has mobilized for funds

I am inspired by young people such as Greta Thunberg and other teens who raise their voices on the dire need to act on climate change. She also raises global awareness on impacts climate change could have on her future and the future of her generation. More young people, against all odds, are leading innovative initiatives that help vulnerable communities to adapt. Such initiatives include climate-smart agriculture, sustainable management of forests, improving mobility issues with their creative ideologies and investment in mobile-based technologies. Most importantly, the youth has been at the forefront in organizing and mobilizing people for strikes towards climate action. Notable events include or Climate Strike, and so on. The youth has mobilized for funds from governments, businesses and organization which have all been useful in climate action.

In conclusion, the people who bear the brunt burden of climate change are at the lowest level of the pyramid and they have the best solutions to salvage the situation. As we strive for economic posterity, we ought to wholistically consider the climate change interventions. Also, there is need to tailor the response and adaptation mechanisms. There is urgent need to empower and channel resources to the actual points where the rubber meets the road in this response. As a wakeup call to governments and policy makers, let us consider the plight of the most disadvantaged and prioritize their needs.

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Continue reading on the Alumniportal Deutschland

The COVID-19 pandemic struck us when the world entered the last decade of action to attain global sustainable development goals. There is a setback, but there is hope to get back on track. We must invest in the youth as they can be change-makers with their natural inclination towards diversity, inclusion and justice.

Can the desire for sustainability transcend the confines of our realities? Erick Agure shares his personal experience working with people from around the world. His motto: think global, act local!

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