Friday, September 24, 2010

Climate Change and the Millennium Development Goals

This week, the UN General Assembly is meeting in New York.  One of the key topics of discussion this week is a 10 year  report on the progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. IISS intern Nathaniel Markowitz has written a guest post on how climate change is affecting the progress towards the MDGs.  

On Wednesday, September 22, the Millennium Development Goals Summit concluded in New York.  With its conclusion, the General Assembly adopted a resolution titled Keeping the Promise: United to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals. This document stresses that addressing climate change is a lynch-pin for “safeguarding and advancing” progress toward achieving the MDGs.  It notes that climate change has resulted in “increased vulnerabilities and inequalities and adversely affected development gains, in particular in developing countries.” 

While addressing climate change is important for realizing all of the MDG, the resolution observes that it is particularly significant for eradicating extreme hunger and poverty (Goal 1) and ensuring environmental sustainability (Goal 7).  Several passages underscore the dramatic and immediate impact climate change has on food security.  The document also highlights the threat climate change poses to preserving biodiversity and fragile ecosystems.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (the precursor of the Kyoto Protocol) is invoked as the primary forum for negotiating a global solution.  Specifically, it reaffirms the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities,” which recognizes that a country’s ability to mitigate its contribution to climate change is constrained by its capacities.  [I don’t think I’ve ever seen a UN pronouncement that doesn’t include this phrase! - AH]

In addition to the outcome document, climate change was also addressed Tuesday at the roundtable on emerging issues.  The discussion emphasized that “climate change will particularly impact land productivity and water availability, undermining rural livelihoods, with a disproportionate impact on women and vulnerable populations.”  The panel recommends increasing investment in both renewable energy and developing resilience to climate impacts; encouraging implementation of a green economic growth strategy; and enhancing global and regional integration.

Here is a full update on how well the world is meeting the MDG targets. 

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