›March 27, 2014 // By ECSP Staff
Increasingly disruptive protests are likely if oil, gas, and mining companies and national governments don’t pay closer attention to indigenous populations’ needs as Western Amazon basin resources are developed, an expert warned.
The original version of this article, by Margarita Mora, appeared on Conservation International’s Human Nature blog.
I first visited Peru’s Alto Mayo Protected Forest in 2008. At the time, deforestation rates there were among the highest in the country. CI-Peru wanted to find a way to help communities and Peru’s National Service of Natural Protected Areas (SERNANP) keep their trees standing.
“Today we have a golden opportunity to use respectful maternal care to break new ground at the intersection of health and human rights,” said Lynn Freedman, director of the Averting Maternal Death and Disability Program and professor of clinical population and family health at Columbia University, at the Wilson Center. [Video Below]
‘Toward Resilience’ is a series on the meaning of global resilience and vulnerability today.
A staggering amount of development dollars – one in three, in fact – are lost due to natural disasters and crises. Certain communities are less affected than others by such disasters; they are more resilient. Knowing where vulnerability and strength exist and how to bolster them could help avoid these losses. Yet, today, very little data exists to help development practitioners understand which adaptive capacities are lagging in a given community.
High mountain regions face grave environmental challenges with climate change impacts already as severe as any place on earth. Temperature increases are expected to be greater at higher altitudes than at sea level, and glaciers and snowfields are retreating in many areas, increasing the risk of catastrophic glacial lake outburst floods, affecting fresh water supplies for hundreds of millions of people, and exacerbating territorial and natural resource disputes.
Feminized Development in Latin America: Understanding the Confluence of Gender Equity and Cultural Tensions›
USAID’s New Climate Strategy Outlines Adaptation, Mitigation Priorities, Places Heavy Emphasis on Integration›February 29, 2012 // By Kathleen MogelgaardIn January, the U.S. Agency for International Development released its long-awaited climate change strategy. Climate Change & Development: Clean Resilient Growth provides a blueprint for addressing climate change through development assistance programs and operations. In addition to objectives around mitigation and adaptation, the strategy also outlines a third objective: improving overall operational integration.
The five-year strategy has a clear, succinct goal: “to enable countries to accelerate their transition to climate-resilient low emission sustainable economic development.” Developed by a USAID task force with input from multiple U.S. agencies and NGOs, the document paints a picture of the threats climate change poses for development – calling it “among the greatest global challenges of our generation” – and commits the agency to addressing both the causes of climate change and the impacts it will have on communities in countries around the world.
These statements are noteworthy in a fiscal climate that has put development assistance under renewed scrutiny and in a political environment where progress on climate change legislation seems unlikely.
Not Just Challenges, But Opportunities
To make the case for prioritizing action on climate change, the strategy cites climate change’s likely impact on agricultural productivity and fisheries, which will threaten USAID’s food security goals. It also illustrates the ways in which climate change could exacerbate humanitarian crises and notes work done by the U.S. military and intelligence community in identifying climate change as a “threat multiplier” (or “accelerant of instability” as the Quadrennial Defense Review puts it) with implications for national security.
Targeted efforts to address climate change, though, could consolidate development gains and result in technology “leap-frogging” that will support broader development goals. And, noting that aggregate emissions from developing countries are now larger than those from developed countries, the strategy asserts that assisting the development and deployment of clean technologies “greatly expands opportunities to export U.S. technology and creates ‘green jobs.’”
In addition to providing a rationale for action, the strategy provides new insights on how USAID will prioritize its efforts on climate change mitigation and adaptation. It provides a clear directive for the integration of climate change into the agency’s broader development work in areas such as food security, good governance, and global health– a strong and encouraging signal for those interested in cross-sectoral planning and programs.
Priorities Outlined, Tough Choices Ahead
President Obama’s Global Climate Change Initiative, revealed in 2010, focuses efforts around three pillars: clean energy, sustainable landscapes, and adaptation. USAID’s climate strategy fleshes out these three areas, identifying “intermediate results” and indicators of success – such as the development of Low Emission Development Strategies in 20 partner countries, greenhouse gas sequestration through improved ecosystem management, and increasing the number of institutions capable of adaptation planning and response.
In laying out ambitious objectives, however, the authors of the strategy acknowledge constrained fiscal realities. The strategy stops short of identifying an ideal budget to support the activities it describes, though it does refer to the U.S. pledge to join other developed countries in providing $30 billion in “fast start financing” in the period of 2010 to 2012 and, for those USAID country missions that will be receiving adaptation and mitigation funding, establishes “floors” of $3 million and $5 million, respectively.
The final section of the strategy lists over thirty countries and regions that have already been prioritized for programs, including Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Malawi, and Peru. But “we are unable to work in every country at risk from climate change impacts or with the potential for low carbon sustainable growth,” the strategy asserts. An annex includes selection criteria to guide further funding decisions, including emission reduction potential, high exposure to physical climate change impacts, a suitable enabling environment, coordination with other donors, and diplomatic and geographic considerations.
“Integration” Central to Strategy
The concept of integration figures prominently throughout the 27-page document. For those of us working in the large and growing space where the global challenges of climate change, food security, health, livelihoods, and governance overlap, this attention is heartening. While it may sometimes seem simply fashionable to pay lip service to the idea of “breaking out of stovepipes,” the strategy identifies concrete ways to incentivize integration.
“Integration of climate change into USAID’s development portfolio will not happen organically,” the strategy says. “Rather, it requires leadership, knowledge and incentives to encourage agency employees to seek innovative ways to integrate climate change into programs with other goals and to become more flexible in use of funding streams and administrative processes.”
To this end, USAID plans to launch a group of pilot activities. USAID missions must submit pilot program proposals, and selected programs will emphasize integration of top priorities within the agency’s development portfolio (including Feed the Future and the Global Health Initiative). Among other criteria, pilots must demonstrate buy-in from multiple levels of leadership, and will be selected based on their potential to generate integration lessons and tools over the next several years.
This kind of integration – the blending of key priorities from multiple sectors, the value of documented lessons and tools, the important role of champions in fostering an enabling environment – mirrors work carried out by USAID’s own population, health, and environment (PHE) portfolio. To date, USAID’s PHE programs have not been designed to address climate challenges specifically, and perhaps not surprisingly they aren’t named specifically in the strategy. But those preparing and evaluating integration pilot proposals may gain useful insights on cross-sectoral integration from a closer look at the accumulated knowledge of more than 10 years of PHE experience.
Population Dynamics Recognized, But Opportunities Not Considered
Though not a focus of the strategy, population growth is acknowledged as a stressor – alongside unplanned urbanization, environmental degradation, resource depletion, and poverty – that exacerbates growing challenges in disaster risk reduction and efforts to secure a safe and sufficient water supply.
Research has shown that different global population growth scenarios will have significant implications for emissions growth. New analysis indicates that the fastest growing populations are among the most vulnerable to climate change and that in these areas, there is frequently high unmet need for family planning. And we have also clearly seen that in many parts of the world, women’s health and well-being are increasingly intertwined with the effects of changing climate and access to reproductive health services.
In its limited mention of population as a challenge, however, the strategy misses the chance to identify it also as an opportunity. Addressing the linked challenges of population growth and climate change offers an opportunity to recommit the resources required to assist of the hundreds of millions of women around the world with ongoing unmet need for family planning.
The strategy’s emphasis on integration would seem to be an open door to such opportunities.
Integrated, cross-sectoral collaboration that truly fosters a transition to climate-resilient, low-emission sustainable economic development will acknowledge both the challenge presented by rapid population growth and the opportunities that can emerge from expanding family planning access to women worldwide. But for this to happen, cross-sectoral communication will need to become more commonplace. Demographers and reproductive health specialists will need to engage in dialogues on climate change, and climate specialists will need both opportunities and incentives to listen. USAID’s new climate change integration pilots could provide a new platform for this rare but powerful cross-sectoral action.
Kathleen Mogelgaard is a writer and analyst on population and the environment, and a consultant for the Environmental Change and Security Program.
Sources: FastStartFinance.org, International Energy Agency, Maplecroft, Population Action International, The White House, U.S. Department of Defense, USAID.
Photo Credit: “Displaced Darfuris Farm in Rainy Season,” courtesy of United Nations Photo.
›February 3, 2012 // By Laurie MazurWater – essential, finite, and increasingly scarce – has been dubbed “the new oil.” Experts debate whether human societies are approaching “peak water,” beyond which lies a bleak future of diminishing supplies and soaring demand. Others observe that, for many, the water crisis has already arrived.
Indeed, if any resource poses a serious limit to growth on human numbers and appetites, it would have to be water. The planet’s supply of freshwater is fixed, and there is no substitute for its life-giving qualities.
Still, a general water crisis is not inevitable. It is true that people are placing unsupportable stress on freshwater supplies in many areas, while climate change threatens the quantity and reliability of those supplies. And population dynamics, especially growth and migration, contribute to the problem in ways both obvious and less so. However, a broad range of supply- and demand-side solutions are available and implementing those solutions could relieve – and avert – tremendous human suffering.
The “water crisis,” as reported in the media, is actually two oft-conflated crises. First, there is the physical scarcity of water, experienced in arid areas from Yemen to the American Southwest. Second, there is the shortage of safe drinking water, typically caused by a lack of infrastructure in poor countries – even those with plenty of rainfall, such as Uganda. Some regions – notably the Horn of Africa – struggle with both crises at once.
Physical scarcity of water is a significant and growing problem. Although we live on a planet that is covered with water, very little of that is fresh: in fact, if all of the world’s water could fit into a gallon jug, the freshwater available for our use would equal only about one tablespoon. In addition, that tiny sip of water is distributed very inequitably. So, while there is no global shortage, a growing number of regions are chronically parched.
water stress; by 2025, largely because of population growth, fully two out of three of the world’s people will live under those conditions. A recent McKinsey and Company report warns that within two decades, demand for water will exceed supply by 40 percent.
Human numbers are growing most rapidly where water is scarce. The World Bank’s Water and Development report identified 45 “water poor” countries that are both physically short on water and economically impoverished. Those countries have an average fertility rate of 4.8 children per woman – nearly twice the world average – and their populations are expected to double by 2050. “Rapid population growth makes water problems more complicated and difficult to solve,” said Sandra Postel, director of the Global Water Policy Project, in an interview.
When water-stressed countries lack surface water supplies, they typically resort to overpumping underground aquifers, drawing down wells faster than they can be replenished. As a result, groundwater levels have dropped precipitously in many places over the past nine years, and wells have gone dry in parts of India, China, and Pakistan.
The depletion of groundwater is an ominous sign for world food production, which must increase 70 percent by 2050 to meet the demands of a growing world population. Postel estimates that 10 percent of world food production now depends on the overpumping of groundwater.
And then there is the wild card of climate change, which has already begun to disrupt rainfall patterns and intensify drought in many parts of the world. The famine ravaging the Horn of Africa may be a harbinger of what is to come for fragile nations. Many countries, including Kenya and Ethiopia, are likely to experience longer, harsher droughts, which – superimposed on existing water scarcity, rapid population growth, poor governance, and poverty – could create the conditions for widespread starvation and misery.
In another grim development, climate change is melting glaciers and snowpack on the world’s great mountain ranges, including the Himalayas, Hindu Kush, and Andes, which supply drinking water for one in six of the world’s people. New evidence shows that those glaciers are disappearing faster than expected, leading to water shortages in Peru and elsewhere.
Quality and Delivery
The other water crisis – the shortage of clean drinking water – is not simply about the physical scarcity of water. Nor is it simply about poverty, though more funds are needed to address the problem.
Today, nearly a billion people lack access to clean drinking water; 2.5 billion lack adequate sanitation; and some 5 million die every year due to preventable water-related diseases.
Nowhere is the crisis more evident than in the fast-expanding cities of the developing world. Cities have seen explosive growth in recent decades, and the UN predicts that by midcentury the world’s urban population will nearly double, from 3.5 to 6.3 billion – an increase equivalent to the current population of China, India, and the United States combined. Developing regions as a whole will account for 93 percent of that growth; more than 80 percent will be in the cities of Asia and Africa.
failing to provide basic services – including water and sanitation – to new arrivals, who typically occupy informal slums and shanty towns beyond the reach of municipal services.
For example, Dhaka has grown sixfold since 1975 and is now home to nearly 17 million people but has “water supply network coverage for only a small fraction of this population,” according to Pier Mantovani, lead water supply and sanitation specialist at the World Bank. As a result, in areas not served by official services, including the city’s slums, people pay exorbitant prices to middlemen with tankers selling water of dubious quality.
Here, too, population dynamics play a role. Migration, mostly from rural areas, accounts for roughly 40 percent of urban growth. That migration is spurred, in part, by rapid growth in the countryside, where the total fertility rate (average number of children born per woman) is usually higher. The remaining 60 percent of urban growth results from “natural increase,” meaning simply that there are more births than deaths. Population growth, then, is a driving force behind the breakneck pace of urbanization and compounds the challenges of providing safe water to city dwellers.
Today’s twin water crises pose enormous challenges for human well-being and even survival. Without a dramatic change of course, water could indeed pose a severe “limit to growth” of the human enterprise. As Margaret Catley-Carlson, vice-chair of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on water security, has written:
[I]f “business as usual” water management practices continue for another two decades, large parts of the world will face a serious and structural threat to economic growth, human well-being, and national security.But there are alternatives to “business as usual.”
Consider this: despite its growing scarcity, vast amounts of water are wasted through inefficiency; growing water-intensive crops in dry areas or using drinking water for purposes (like flushing toilets) where non-potable “grey” water would suffice, for example. Such waste is a “silver lining,” said Postel. By reducing waste, “we can get the most value from limited water supplies.”
Rethinking pricing is key. Irrigation is heavily subsidized in many parts of the world; farmers typically pay just 15 to 20 percent of the cost of the water they use, according to Postel. Reducing those generous subsidies would make conservation more cost-effective.
Meeting the need for safe drinking water will require greater attention to the needs of the poor, especially in informal urban settlements. That, in turn, will require a mobilization of resources and political will. “In every country,” said Mantovani, “politicians swear that ‘water is life,’ and that providing safe drinking water is a critically important policy priority…but in many countries water supply is not adequately funded or supported.”
On the demand side, slower population growth would help reduce pressure on limited water supplies, providing some breathing room to develop creative solutions. As it happens, many water-poor countries also have high levels of “unmet need” for family planning – they are home to millions of women who want to prevent or postpone getting pregnant but aren’t using modern contraception. Investments in family planning programs could improve women’s health and well-being, slow population growth, and reduce vulnerability to water stress.
In short, solutions abound. “We can meet the water needs of seven billion and have healthy aquatic ecosystems at the same time,” said Postel. However, she added, “We are not moving toward those solutions at a rate commensurate with the problem.”
Laurie Mazur is a consultant on population and the environment for the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program and a writer and consultant to non-profit organizations. She is the editor, most recently, of A Pivotal Moment: Population, Justice and the Environmental Challenge (Island Press, 2009).Sources: Africa News, The Daily Beast, Global Water Policy Project, McKinsey and Company, National Geographic, The Pacific Institute, Population Action International, Population Reference Bureau, Postel (1999), Science News, UN Environment Programme, UN Population Division, UNESCO, UNFPA, World Bank, World Economic Forum, World Food Programme, World Health Organization, World Water Crisis.
Photo Credit: “Virtual City,” courtesy of ToniVC (Toni Verdú Carbó).
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