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How do we protect the poorest from Climate Change?

Kelvin-2-banner Youth in Action group learning about waste management

By Kelvin Rodrigues, Development Volunteer team October 2023

HOW DO WE PROTECT THE POOREST FROM CLIMATE CHANGE?

My considerations while working with Youth in Action project in Zambia, and studying the UNDP Report 2021 on the global situation of poverty.

Climate Change is inevitable, as the climate on earth is no longer the same and it has been giving indications that it is only the beginning and that the future will be extreme with regard to the variation of temperatures, rains and extreme droughts.

The land is sick, the symptoms are everywhere. Those responsible for incisive measures to reduce the extraction of natural resources and the emission of waste in the soil, atmosphere and oceans, do not seem to have the same seriousness in discussing alternative and sustainable means.
We followed in another COP how world leaders met to address Climate Change. But we saw them leave after the main week, that was aimed at defending the future of the planet as we see today, the same way they entered. 

Oil producers keep producing .... while the Earth is warming

The idea of taking the COP to the Middle East - with the thought of making the main producers of fossil fuels in the world aware that we need to reduce the dependence on this energy model, making it more flexible and creating alternatives for sustainable energy, diversifying the energy matrix and reducing the dependence on oil, natural gas and coal - had no effect.
Saudi Arabia, host country of COP 28 together with Iran, are major oil producers in the world and they remain firm in defending the consumption of fossil fuels.
Brazil, which has the largest tropical forest on the planet, named as the lung of the world by many scientists and environmental activists discusses in its main political agendas oil exploration at the mouth of the Amazon.
And the latest of all, starting from a country that was an example in sustainable guidelines and investor in environmental protection programs, we have Norway, which January 24th declared the controversial decision to allow the exploration of minerals on the seabed, thus opening the discussion of this topic by other countries.

Kelvin just after arriving at CICD for his Development Volunteer training

Kelvin just after arriving at CICD for his Development Volunteer training

The volunteer trio in Zambia preparing to teach about garbage management

The volunteer trio in Zambia preparing to teach about garbage management

The trio with the Youth in Action group, discussing how to solve the garbage problems

The trio with the Youth in Action group, discussing how to solve the garbage problems

Fossil fuel production creates political instability

Another important point is that as more reserves of natural resources are discovered, political instabilities are created. As an example we have the discovery in Guyana of another oil reserve which caused an awakening in its neighbour, Venezuela, and reignited a discussion of decades past about the annexation of part of the country, the territory of Essequibo.
That geopolitics is boiling is nothing new to anyone. Countries need energy to develop, and to protect themselves from possible wars that have no clear enemies. And the most effective way to get energy is still through extreme exploration of the planet.

The big problem is that we can no longer maintain the levels of extraction and the model of uncontrolled consumption. Natural resources such as water, soil and air are increasingly polluted, unproductive and scarce.
And even with so much development, so many advances, positive GDP data and growth projections, we still have 1.3 billion human beings who live in poverty and do not have adequate means to maintain their lives. They live without basic sanitation, electricity, piped water and food security.
The report also points out that 600 million people walk at least 30 minutes to get drinking water.

From the perspective of the Poor

Recently, I came across a scene, which aroused a certain restlessness. I was given the challenge of explaining to people who have no access to electricity, water, piped cooking gas, waste collection or sanitation and are living with less than $ 1 a day, about the impacts of climate change. Then came to me a question, while I considered the situation of these people who have never enjoyed such concentrated world development, who also want the advantages of having a developed country, who live in extreme poverty because of actions of the few - while the planet is heating up:

How do I explain to the poorest, that the heat will be stronger than it already is, that the rains will arrive of surprises and that depending on the intensity will put cities under water, that periods of drought will be frequent and that they will need to walk more and more time to get water, that they will have to pay more for their basic food, because food production on a world scale will be affected, making products more expensive.

At first I was left without answers, for these questions caused me anguish.
In the cold analysis of the data, there was no hope.
It was then that another question, more powerful than the others, came to mind:

HOW DO WE PROTECT THE POOREST FROM CLIMATE CHANGE?

We - leaders, activists and civil society - must fight alongside the forgotten and excluded, in search for solutions that mitigate the impacts caused by climate change.
A task somewhat difficult, because many people have questions about it and even fight about it.
When I researched on the subject, I only observed actions that provide idea and long-term investments. However, those responsible for these investments are not very dedicated in answers to this theme.
- How we are going to expect these investments that are not enough.
- What do we do until then?
Billions of people are at imminent risk and cannot wait.....

Awareness and education
The first step is awareness. We need to inform people about what is happening, clearly, practically and efficiently. To inform simply, without complex words or texts that make it impossible to understand, we need to explain for example the impact of improper waste disposal, and how harmful it is to the environment.

Re-use of waste
Explore ideas for reusing waste that can be collected and turned into solutions for the community, such as pet bottle brooms and eco-friendly bags. Create and strengthen co-operatives that correctly collect and dispose of waste, study ways to make waste initiatives that contribute to income generation.

Local food production
Strengthen local agriculture by providing resources and incentives for local residents to produce their own food, nutritious and pesticide-free and that sell
the surplus to other locations or for the government to use in the production of snacks for schools at a competitive price.
Ensure that the school provides students with the resources needed for decent development and that it offers all meals in a healthy way.

Service points and emergency response
Set up service points within communities for information and support that can measure and mitigate local risks, support families and ensure that they can
have response time to protect themselves when extreme events are detected.

Create communication channels to increase information coverage. People need to know what’s going on. And the common media, such as TVs and radios, do not reach everyone.

To support people in poverty we need simple ideas and engaged and committed people, thinking of the real problems with creativity and commitment to collaborate for a less unequal and hungry world.

Nothing can be created and developed when the basic needs for maintaining life are not met, and hunger, thirst and disease are still silent killers.

The new me: Carla as a teacher!
My journey from Hungary to Zambia
 

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Saturday, 15 June 2024