A new report confirms what human rights and humanitarian organizations have known for decades: current trends in climate change mean security risk for the world’s most vulnerable populations, especially women. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a comprehensive report earlier this week.
Severe impacts on declining agriculture escalate poverty and food insecurity. Farmers are stripped of their livelihood and rising food prices reach urban centres. The environmental degradation summarized in the report depicts a disturbing reality of growing disparity. The United Nations Population Fund 2009 report (p.4) explains how women are likely to suffer the most:
“Women—particularly those in poor countries—will be affected differently than men. They are among the most vulnerable to climate change, partly because in many countries they make up the larger share of the agricultural work force and partly because they tend to have access to fewer income-earning opportunities. ”
Natural disasters amplify hardships of securing the basic necessities like food and water. Rising sea levels cause “mega-disasters” and recognized humanitarian crises. In the Philippines, Red Cross workers partner with environmentalists and local government to reforest degraded hillside and to assist villages in the wake of continued typhoons. Climate sustainability is integral to community development and aid intervention.
The timely publication of this report precedes a high-level Climate Summit organized by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon this September. The report underscores the urgent need to create mitigation and adaptation strategies – both of which are on the table at the Summit.
More than risk management, climate justice requires the recognition of current climate catastrophes and policy makers must consider the defense and inclusion of women affected by climate change.