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For a people-centric approach to climate change

Nov 20, 2009

UNFPA’s report The State of World Population 2009 focuses on the disproportionate impact of global warming on women, marginalised poor and the coastal populations. It argues that the international community needs to take into account their needs, rights and potential while formulating policies, programmes and treaties on climate change.

The State of World Population 2009

Publisher: The United Nations Population Fund, November 2009

The whole world has been talking about carbon credits, carbon trading and emissions targets. But not enough has been said about the people whose activities contribute to those emissions or about those who will be most affected by climate change, especially women.

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The climate-change debate needs to be reframed, putting people at the centre.

Unless climate policies take people into account, they will fail to mitigate climate change or to shield vulnerable populations from the potentially disastrous impacts.

Women bear the disproportionate burden of climate change, but have so far been largely overlooked in the debate about how to address problems of rising seas, droughts, melting glaciers and extreme weather.

Poor women in poor countries are among the hardest hit by climate change. The poor are especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and the majority of the 1.5 billion people living on $1 a day or less are women.

The poor are more likely to depend on agriculture for a living and therefore risk going hungry or losing their livelihoods when droughts strike, rains become unpredictable and hurricanes move with unprecedented force. The poor tend to live in marginal areas, vulnerable to floods, rising seas and storms.

The report draws attention to populations in low-lying coastal areas that are vulnerable to climate change and calls on governments to plan ahead to strengthen risk reduction, preparedness and management of disasters and address the potential displacement of people.

Research cited in the report shows that women are more likely than men to die in natural disasters including those related to extreme weather – with this gap most pronounced where incomes are low and status differences between men and women are high.

The report also shows that investments that empower women and girls, particularly education and health bolster economic development and reduce poverty and have a beneficial impact on climate. Girls with more education, for example, tend to have smaller and healthier families as adults. Women with access to reproductive health services, including family planning, have lower fertility rates that contribute to slower growth in greenhouse-gas emissions in the long run.

Source : UNFPA
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