Speakers Underscore Existential Threat Posed to Humanity by Climate Change
Mr. HUNTE noted the combined 2015-2020 cost of hurricanes and tropical storms incurred by Antigua and Barbuda was 2 million, with an average hurricane costing 8.4 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), while the Bahamas experienced .4 billion in damages in 2019. Low-income families in Antigua and Barbuda pay 10 to 20 per cent of annual income on preparing for the impact of climate change. Existing arrangements are not fit for purpose, he stated. The science is clear that the climate emergency will continue to affect everyone into the future. He noted the common thread is finance, but the international community must distinguish between humanitarian and climate finance. Both subsets of finance should be cognizant of climate change, he stated, while his country continues to experience the eligibility issue due to per capita GDP — with only nine Alliance of Small Island States qualifying for official development assistance (ODA) loans. The solution, he advised, is to have climate finance distinct from current and future development finance. Loss and damage financing should be on the world’s balance sheet, not solely on local States, he stressed — noting powerful Governments are still pouring 0 billion into artificially lowering the price of fossil fuels. Without more adaptation financing, developing States will need more humanitarian assistance. The resolution was then adopted unanimously without a vote. The representative of Hungary, speaking in explanation of position after adoption, said his delegation joined consensus on the resolution but disassociated from the last two preambular paragraphs, concerning the global compact on refugees and the Global Compact for Migration. Representatives of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, FAO and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) also spoke. The representative of Hungary spoke in explanation of position after adoption. Ms. BARRETT noted the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently released three reports and the science is clear: human influence is making extreme climate events, including heat waves, heavy rainfall, and droughts, more frequent and severe. Human influence is the main driver of ocean warming since the 1970s, and of changes in the cryosphere — the frozen parts of the world — driving the global retreat of glaciers since the 1990s and the decrease in spring snow cover since the 1950s. Rather than responding to and recovering from a single hazard, the international community must now figure out how to adapt systems to a complex climate reality. Impacts and risks are not distributed equally, she noted, with between 3.3 billion and 3.6 billion living in global hotspots across Africa, South Asia, Central and South America, small islands and the Arctic. Without urgent transformational action these trends will continue, damaging infrastructure systems such as sanitation, water, energy and transportation — especially if climate change projections are not included in future planning. “We must take action in this critical decade if we are to have any chance of holding warming to safe levels for all of humanity,” she stressed. It would further call upon the United Nations and its humanitarian partners to enhance accountability to Member States, including affected States, and all other stakeholders, including local governments and relevant local organizations, as well as affected populations, and to further strengthen humanitarian response efforts. DIEGO PARY RODRÍGUEZ (Bolivia), Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, stressed it is even more urgent to ramp up efforts to address the root causes of multidimensional crises, which are leading to the highest levels of humanitarian need, including record levels of acute food insecurity and displacement. Participants had heard how current challenges are creating a protection crisis where women and children are often the most impacted, including the shadow pandemic of gender-based violence. With the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance continuing to rise in 2022, he set out a call to action on multiple fronts. The resolution was then adopted unanimously without a vote. Humanitarian assistance can only go so far, however, and leaders must redouble their efforts at peacebuilding and conflict resolution. Collaboration and multilateralism are key, as planetary emergencies require planetary politics. People in their hour of greatest need want first to survive and second to find a way out of crisis, she said. Humanitarian, development and peacemaking communities must work together and not let institutional distinctions get in the way. “We know what we need to do to build a better humanitarian system, one that can rise to the enormity of today’s problems and those of tomorrow,” she stated. High-Level Panel III High-Level Panel III Ms. MSUYA said the world is confronting a megacrisis fuelled by conflict, climate change, the rising cost of living and a pandemic — resulting in an alarming increase in hunger, poverty, displacement and inequality almost everywhere. For hundreds of thousands of people, the threat of famine is all too real, and a gaping financial gap will plunge millions more people into destitution. The international community must redouble its efforts to support a strong, flexible, well-resourced humanitarian system. She noted that the Economic and Social Council agreed that all parties to conflict must do more to facilitate humanitarian assistance, and Governments must ensure that humanitarian activities are exempt from sanctions and counter-terrorism measures. Discussions on the pandemic highlighted the need to build more resilient health‑care, education and protection systems, while it is also urgent to stop horrific levels of violence against women and children, and address the massive global hunger crisis. Also, by the text, it would call upon all parties to armed conflict to respect, and all States to ensure respect for international humanitarian law, as well as to comply with their obligations under human rights law and refugee law, as applicable, and further encourage States to renew their efforts for the effective implementation of the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949. Ms. JAVEED said the Health and Nutrition Development Society has evolved into one of the largest non-governmental organizations in Pakistan, empowering a population of more than 31 million people in 25,000 villages and urban settlements. Climatic changes are expected to drive reduced agricultural productivity, variability of water availability, coastal erosion and seawater intrusions, yet Pakistan contributes less than 1 per cent of global greenhouse‑gas emissions. She noted that 55 per cent of humanitarian disasters are predictable, but funding is less than 1 per cent of that needed to address them in advance. Her organization is active in a network pioneering proactive approaches, with locally led approaches intending a systemic-level shift in providing humanitarian aid. The locally led Anticipatory Action organization provided 9.5 million beneficiaries with £570,000 over the last two years. Financing is the main issue for the global South, she noted, requiring coordinated efforts by the United Nations, donors and respective local governments to mobilize and utilize funds. Long-term adaptive measures are required to enhance resilience, including indigenous knowledge. Ms. FRÉDÉRIC said Argentina has years of humanitarian experience in 70 countries, focused on non-discriminatory humanitarian assistance and strengthening community resilience. The White Helmets, a new body, has jurisdiction to develop a two-prong strategy to better manage resources and foreign policy, providing assistance and emergency to the most vulnerable, for humanitarian missions and mitigation and prevention of disasters, and to facilitate planning and dialogue. The White Helmets have seven volunteers in Ukraine providing specialized logistics and psychological help, and recently relaunched an agricultural and pedagogical programme in Haiti as part of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in conjunction with the World Food Programme (WFP), and is assisting communities affected by drought in Bolivia. She also cited a pioneering initiative to assist Mexican, Central American and Caribbean nationals in the United States who have been displaced by natural hazards. Mr. MOHIELDIN said that, just a few months before the Sharm el-Sheikh United Nations Climate Change Conference and almost halfway into 2022, by any measure, the world is in a worse position than ever before. The Secretary-General’s Global Crisis Response Group reports that 107 developing economies are severely exposed to one of three elements of crisis — food, energy or finance — and 70 countries are severely exposed to all three at once. He continued that 108 developing economies are facing new economic shocks with dangerous debt levels, with many threatened to be in default after major depreciation, and over 70 per cent of poor people live in countries not eligible for concessionary financing. The international community must adopt a holistic approach to climate action within the context of the Sustainable Development Goals, considering unemployment and inequality. There have been nice words and pledges to save the planet, but the focus should be on implementation, he stressed. The upcoming COP27 ‑ in Egypt, an African and Arab country — will, for the first time, have five regional fora to enhance solutions in the field, with a bottom-up approach. However, developing economies still need the 0 billion promised at COP15 in Copenhagen, allowing them to avoid more debt for developing economies, as they did not cause climate change. Mr. ABDELMOULA said the current drought in Somalia is the worst in four decades, affecting 7 million people and displacing over 805,000 in search of food, water and pasture. The country has witnessed four consecutive failed rainy seasons, and is facing the possibility of a fifth, with a heightened risk of famine in eight areas, and 7.1 million people facing severe food shortages by September, with 213,000 people already facing catastrophe. Some models predict a temperature rise of 3.4°C across Somalia by 2080, and despite more frequent wetter years, water availability per capita will decline by half. He noted the current Humanitarian Response Plan in Somalia is only 20 per cent funded, even though this drought is projected to be worse than in 2010/11 when over 260,000 people died. To combat these negative climate impacts, UNSOM was the first mission to deploy a Climate Security and Environmental Adviser, and climate adaptation is also mainstreamed in the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (2021-2025). He cited nature-based solutions implemented in the flood‑prone Shabelle River basin to combat flooding, and a joint United Nations project in the Galmudug State to fight the climate-induced displacement of communities. “We need to envisage what the country will look like in the next few decades, increasing investment in long-term sustainable solutions,” he stated. The international community must ensure equitable, affordable and universal access to COVID-19 vaccines for all countries and people, as it is unacceptable that many of the world’s poorest continue to battle the COVID-19 virus unvaccinated. Similarly, there must be investment in national health-care systems to manage and prevent the next pandemic. He urged action on gender inequality, to promote women’s participation in humanitarian action, planning and decision‑making, and prevent and respond to gender-based violence and sexual violence. The world is facing a learning crisis, he noted, with millions of children in need of support to recover lost education, and access to mental health and psychosocial support during humanitarian crises. With response to the climate crisis a “moral imperative”, he called for developed countries to urgently meet financial commitments including 0 billion per year in funding to developing States. The Economic and Social Council concluded its humanitarian segment today, holding its third and final panel, titled “Humanitarian impacts of the climate crisis: escalating risks, challenges and actions” — and also adopting the humanitarian resolution titled “Strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations” (document E/2022/L.11).