Highlighting the Social Dimensions of Climate Change

7 June 2011
Author: UNFPA
A family in Tarialan,Uvs Province, Mongolia, uses a solar panel to general power for their ger, a traditional Mongolian tent . UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

To date, research and policy-making on climate change have focused on climate science, technological solutions, and projected impacts to ecosystems and physical infrastructure. An emphasis on people -- the key drivers of climate change has been secondary, according to Jose Miquel Guzman, chief of UNFPA’s Population and Development Branch. Not enough attention has been paid to how households and communities will experience the impacts of climate change – what the UN system terms the ‘social dimensions of climate change’, he added.

The social dimensions of climate change are those that relate to, in particular, health, gender equity, population dynamics, human rights, migration, access to decent work and social protections for those most vulnerable – all priority areas for UNFPA. A side event at the upcoming UN Conference on Climate Change aims to bring more attention to these social dimensions.

UNFPA is a key contributing member of the Social Dimension of Climate Change (SDCC) task team, which is hosting this side event in Bonn, Germany. Organized in the form of a stakeholder meeting, the goal of the event is to get negotiators and other stakeholders' contributions and views on how to ensure that climate-related policies and measures consider the social dimension of climate change. The task team will refine the conceptual framework and main messages developed during a recent inter-agency meeting, hosted by the Population and Development Branch, Technical Division at the UNFPA New York Headquarters in April.

The areas to be discussed during the stakeholder meeting include:

* Why take a social approach to climate change?
* Social drivers of climate change
* Impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change from a social perspective
* Measures to maximize social outcomes of climate policies

The SDCC task team was created under the High-level Committee on Programmes (HLCP) Working Group on Climate Change, and seeks to ensure that a focus on poverty eradication, social cohesion and the needs of those most vulnerable populations are taken into consideration when designing and implementing climate policies. The task team is comprised of 19 agencies: FAO, ILO, IOM, ITU, OHCHR, UNAIDS, UNDESA, UNDP, UNESCO, UNFPA, UN HABITAT, UNICEF, UNITAR, UNISDR, UNRISD, UNU, UN Women, WB, WFP and WHO.

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