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Addressing climate change through MDGs

Sep 24, 2009

UN Millennium Campaign’s publication Seal a Just Deal argues that unless MDGs are at the core of a climate change agreement, there cannot be a solution for this global challenge. It recommends that adaptation actions and funds must be made more transparent and accountable.

Seal a Just Deal: The MDG path to a Climate Change Solution

Publisher: UN Millennium Campaign, 2009

Depletion of natural resources, decreased availability of potable water, reduced agricultural productivity and increased climate-related disasters could place additional burdens on women’s health; reduce the livelihood assets of women and increase child mortality.


Climate change could also have significant impacts on global cooperation and partnership, including increased resource conflicts, altered international trade and economic growth patterns as a result of a loss in natural resources, increased adaptation and mitigation costs expanding the debt burden of developing countries and potential for the diversion of funds away from development.

This publication argues that climate change presents both a threat as well as an opportunity to realise the socio-economic rights of the poor. If policies are designed correctly, efforts aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions can create jobs and new employment opportunities for the poor. In addition, as forest preservation and enhancement become part of a global climate solution, indigenous populations in these areas can access new financial flows and alternate income generating activities through a global climate regime.


Global poverty and inequalities in the levels of development across nations are a threat to mitigation efforts to prevent dangerous climate change. The priorities of developing countries remain the eradication of poverty and the MDGs for which economic growth is a pre-requisite. Such growth may be constrained by efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Developed countries have a responsibility to support developing nations in their efforts to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change through the provision of adequate financial resources and access to relevant technologies.


At the same time, these same MDG objectives can serve as the foundations for an equitable and ambitious deal on climate change. As such, an international deal which combines measures to empower the poor with those for climate change adaptation and mitigation would be a win-win solution for both the MDGs and climate change.

Moreover, after years of unmet commitments for development assistance, an equitable and ambitious agreement on climate change with development at its core could overcome low levels of trust between the developed and developing world and inaugurate a new era of global cooperation.


  • As a first step for adaptation, developing and developed nations must prioritise efforts to achieve the MDGs. Specifically, developed nations must meet their aid commitments to reach 0.7% of GNI consistent with the Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness.
  • All funding for climate change adaptation estimated at a minimum of $67 billion per year by 2030 must be new funding and not detract from governments' existing commitments to the MDGs and other development objectives.
  • Financing for adaptation must be predictable and sustainable. Taking into account the experience of previous ODA commitments, the case for generating this funding through automatic mechanisms is a strong one.
  • The UNFCCC Adaptation Fund should be designated as the central global institution for adaptation through which the majority of financing for adaptation actions must be channelled.
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