ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Most climate change discussions and deliberations neglect the interface between climate change and the day-to-day life of the ordinary African, a keynote speaker said at a meeting that aimed to rectify this omission.
The two-day pre-meeting (11 and 12 October) preceded the Seventh Africa Development Forum taking place this week to consider human and social dimensions of climate change. The pre-event opened up dialogue about the centrality of human and social development to climate change and sought to identify avenues from which impoverished, socially excluded and vulnerable groups can participate in and benefit from adaptation processes.
These are the very people who are among the first to feel the effects of climate change and extreme climate events but with the least adaptive capacity to face the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities presented by those challenges, according to Ms. Fungayi Jessie Majome, Zimbabwe’s Deputy Minister of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development. She indicated that social protection can improve adaptive capacities to climate change.
The additional burden of diseases and deaths caused by climate change strains already weak and under-funded health systems, according to representatives from UNFPA. In his presentation on climate change and health, Mr. Benoit Kalasa, UNFPA Representative to Ethiopia, underlined the need to continue strengthening health systems’ functioning and preparedness in order to cope with these additional challenges. He added that there is also a need to evaluate existing infrastructure, interventions and human resource capacity, particularly in areas of surveillance, response systems, risks communication, monitoring and information use.
The pre-event meeting, which was organized by the United Nations Coordination Mechanism Cluster on Social and Human Development, was attended by ministers and high level experts drawn from various stakeholders in the field. UNFPA played a key role in organizing the pre-event. This week UNFPA also co-hosted a global meeting on population dynamics with respect to climate change and adaptation possibilities in Mexico.