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COP and the SDGs: How to boost the climate resilience of cities

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To successfully tackle climate change, policymakers need to address broader development issues

World leaders, policymakers, and climate change experts are congregating in Katowice this week for the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24). While tackling climate change issues is at the forefront of the debate, it’s important to consider how climate impacts and relates to other areas, such as gender equality, health, and food security.

In the fourth blog of our Climate and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) series, our experts look at how climate affects income inequality, what can be done to boost resilience of urban areas, and how we can achieve sustainable agricultural production.

SDG 10: Reduced inequalities

Janet Hayes, senior consultant in our Financial and Private Sector Development team, looks at how climate relates to the tenth SDG.

Income inequality has risen sharply in the last four decades, however, the speed at which that has happened varies between regions – in low- and middle-income countries the income inequality has increased by more than 10%. National policies and institutions play a significant role in shaping income inequality in a country - these should aim to promote economic inclusion of all regardless of sex, race, or ethnicity.

Climate shocks only exacerbate the situation, as poor people are more vulnerable to climate shocks – with fewer available resources the household’s ability to adapt and respond to a shock is severely limited. Often, poorer households may resort to ‘negative coping’ strategies, such as removing children from school to help provide extra household income or taking out high-interest loans, to help protect their short-term well-being after a shock. However, in the long-term, these actions have a detrimental effect.

Ensuring access to finance, savings, and formal insurance can help mitigate these effects. Our work on shock responsive social protection helped to deepen the understanding on when and how social protection systems can best scale up to respond to climate shocks.

Poorer people, or those living in remote areas, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, often rely on informal savings groups for their safety nets. Working in three focus countries in Ghana, Tanzania, and Zambia, we are exploring, through the Savings at the Frontier programme, how to link these informal mechanisms with formal financial institutions to improve financial inclusion of underserved populations.

SDG 11: Sustainable cities and communities

Our Director of urban economics Jim Coleman discusses how climate change issues impact the resilience of cities.

As the number of people living in urban areas continues to rise – with more than six billion people expected to live in cities by 2045 – city leaders around the world face a challenge of providing basic services, housing, jobs, and infrastructure for everyone. However, even more crucial is ensuring the cities and their populations are capable of withstanding climate, conflict, and economic shocks:

SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production

Specialising in agricultural issues, our senior consultant Zoltan Tiba explores the links between climate and agriculture.

Climate change has a direct impact on agricultural production, which consumes the major part of global water resources. Erratic rainfall patterns, adverse weather, and changing agro-climatic conditions coupled with rising input costs and market failures increase the myriad risks involved in agriculture. These interlinking complexities affect food consumption and perpetuate malnutrition, in particular in low- and middle-income countries, where smallholder farmers have limited access to improved production techniques.

Achieving responsible consumption and production in this context will require behavioural changes of both producers and consumers worldwide. Reducing our ecological footprint and moving towards sustainable production and consumption will include devising effective waste management systems (in particular food waste), organising disposal of pollutants, and recycling – in addition to changing laws, regulations, and economic incentives of business actors at the global level.

The world is at a critical juncture to make these changes as quickly as possible, especially as many of the detrimental consequences are becoming irreversible.

Photo: SatF/OPM/Nana Kofi Aquah

Don’t miss our previous climate and SDG blogs – focusing on eliminating poverty, zero hunger, and good health; quality education, gender equality, and clean water and sanitation; and affordable energy, economic growth, and innovation.