As world leaders, UN representatives, global experts gather this week in Paris at the COP21, the world is watching. Climate change is one of the most pressing issues facing our global community, and action must be taken to reverse its effects and ensure protection for the people most affected – those in developing nations. When signed, the COP21 Global Agreement on Climate Change will serve as the starting point for a long-term effort to stop global temperatures from rising more than 2°C (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
COP21 takes place less than 3 months after the adoption of the global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – the 17 goals which lay out the UN’s strategy to end poverty, improve health and education, and protect the planet by the year 2030. Goal 13 on Climate Action is particularly important for Somalia, which urgently needs responses to the socio-economic and environmental threats already posed by climate change.
Climate change is not only about rising sea levels and altered weather conditions. In Somalia, climate change affects food security, livelihoods, energy security, resilience against disasters, social security, conflict prevention and natural resource management. The risks associated with these challenges are compounded where there are existing stresses on water supplies, agricultural productivity, health and education systems, and where there is limited employment and business opportunities, particularly, young men and women.
70% of Somalis are dependent on climate-sensitive agriculture and pastoralism. As floods and droughts become more severe and frequent in Somalia, there is a need to find approaches that can reduce the sensitivity of farmers and pastoralists to increasing rainfall variability. With natural resource degradation also rampant throughout Somalia – most notably for the production of charcoal – Somalia is becoming increasingly vulnerable to conflicts over scarce resources.
Further, women in rural areas are one of the most vulnerable groups in Somalia. Within the female-headed households, women are traditionally responsible for growing food, gathering fuel and water, cooking, and raising children. The division of labour, along with unequal access to both material and non-material resources, and diminished participation for women in decision-making in political and private spheres increases their vulnerability against the impacts of climate change.
Climate change and resource scarcity are also exacerbated by the absence of policies on land-use and disaster risk management at the national level. At local levels, communities lack the financial, technical and informational resources needed to build their resilience to climate change as well as the knowledge of how to prepare for extreme weather impacts.
To address these issues, UNDP with funding from the Least Developed Countries Climate Fund/Global Environment Facility (LDCF/GEF) is supporting Somali government counterparts at ministries and district level, as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and community-based organizations (CBOs) to integrate climate change risks for better natural resource management and disaster preparedness. Climate risk management is being institutionalized from national to local levels. CBOs are being revitalized to take the lead on implementing ecosystem-based flood and drought preparedness measures.
UNDP’s Environment Programme is working with government and communities to ensure that Somali women and men benefit equally from improved natural resource management. With support from the Global Environment Facility Least Developed Countries Climate Fund, United Nations Environment Programme and the Government of Germany, UNDP is working directly with communities to enhance climate resilience, particularly, against seasonal droughts and floods, improve access to renewable energy sources and disasters preparedness.
For example, partnerships with the government and UN agencies resulted in breakthrough initiatives to address the issues around unsustainable charcoal production both from the supply and demand side of the value chain. Cost-effective solar energy systems have been installed in hospitals across Somalia, providing renewable energy for thousands of patients who visit these health facilities every year. These kinds of initiatives, if taken to scale, will help usher in the necessary changes which can enable Government counterparts to take control of their own climate change and resilience programming.
Building resilience to climatic events is critical for Somalia as the country stabilizes after decades of conflict and commits to long-term development goals for its citizens. To ensure the sustainable use of natural resources and protection of the environment, UNDP draws on its institutional knowledge and expertise to improve awareness about the adverse impacts of climate change, enhance national capacities for sustainable management of natural resources, implement best environmental management practices that benefit Somali women and men, and demonstrate innovative renewable energy and energy efficient solutions.
And so, as all eyes are on Paris, in Mogadishu, Garowe, Hargeisa, and all across Somalia, we are counting on our global partners to deliver a binding, universal and ambitious deal on climate change that sets the world on a trail toward limiting global temperature rise and promoting sustainable development for all.