After focused last-minute negotiations, the UNFCCC COP-16
parties meeting in Mexico finally reached an agreement on a package being called “The Cancun Agreements
” on Saturday. One of the most important impacts of the agreement (also referred to as the “balanced package”) is the establishment of a green climate fund which will help developing countries adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change.
For more on the green fund as well as the integration of gender, population, development, and even a little bit of security in the broader climate dialogue, see The New Security Beat’s
coverage of Cancun below.
- Interview with Karen Hardee: Climate-Proofing Development
Kicking off our coverage was an email interview with Karen Hardee, visiting fellow with the Population Reference Bureau, on “climate-proofing” development. Hardee gives a brief overview of the UN National Adaptation Programmes of Action system and the current state climate adaptation integration in international development. She points out that one of the enduring positives from COP-15 was a renewed focus on financing tools that has permeated to the top levels of the UN.
Hardee also touched on the nascent but largely unfulfilled connection between population growth and resilience, noting that “of the first 41 programs submitted to the UNFCCC…37 noted that population growth exacerbated the effects of climate change, but only six explicitly stated that meeting an unmet demand for RH/FP should be a key priority for their adaptation strategy and only two proposed projects that included RH/FP.”
- Pop Audio: From Cancun: Roger-Mark De Souza on Women and Integrated Climate Adaptation Strategies
Next, Population Action International’s Roger-Mark De Souza was kind of enough to speak with us briefly over the phone from the conference itself, providing a run-down on a PAI-sponsored side event focusing on empowering women in climate debates.
“When you look at the negative impacts of climate change, the impacts on the poor and the vulnerable – particularly women – increase, so investing in programs that put women at the center is critical,” De Souza said.
Leaving gender issues, like child and maternal health and education, out of deliberations like those COP-16 are missed opportunities to get more “power for your peso,” he said.
- Guest Contributor Alex Stark: From Cancun: Getting a Climate Green Fund
Alex Stark, formerly of CNAS and now with the Adopt a Negotiator program in Cancun, provided an update and a strong argument for one of the most critical elements of the “balanced package” that many are hoping will come out of Cancun – the establishment of an international fund to help pay for adaptation and mitigation programs in developing countries.
Stark provides an insight into some of the chatter on the floor at COP-16 and also outlines the moral, development, and security advantages to supporting a green fund, pointing out that “by managing displacement, migration, and violent conflict driven by the effects of climate change, such as water scarcity, climate change adaptation can help bolster international security and stability.”
“Within the UN process itself,” she writes, “a robust, well-run, equitable green fund would help rebuild the trust lost between developed and developing countries at Copenhagen last year.”
- The Number Left Out: Bringing Population Into the Climate Conversation
Lastly, Bob Engelman, of the Worldwatch Institute, provides a broad argument for more inclusion of a key variable in climate debates – population (and not in the Ted Turner mold). He enumerates the common pitfalls of population debates, from sensitivities about personal choices to squeamishness about sexuality and reproductive health, and just plain gender bias.
But despite these barriers, says Engelman, population – and not just growth but demographics too – matters in the climate debate and therefore needs to be part of the conversation (an argument he makes more comprehensively in a new report, Population, Climate Change, and Women’s Lives). Echoing De Souza, he concludes by pointing out that although the discussion may be difficult, the solution is relatively simple: “On population, the most effective way to slow growth is to support women’s aspirations.”
“As societies, we have the ability to end the ongoing growth of human numbers – soon, and based on human rights and women’s intentions,” Engelman said. “This makes it easy to speak of women, population, and climate change in a single breath.”
Sources: Population Action International, Slate, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, The Washington Post, Worldwatch Institute.
Photo Credit: Adapted from “Trees Dead on Shore of Timor-Leste Lake,” courtesy of flickr user United Nations Photo; Roger-Mark De Souza, courtesy of David Hawxhurst/Wilson Center; “Will you back a climate fund?,” courtesy of flickr user Oxfam International; and “Met Office Climate Data – Month by Month (September),” courtesy of flickr user blprnt_van.