Droughts were once viewed as only affecting some regions, but are now a global threat, impacting on livelihoods and ecosystems, and fueling displacement and conflicts, a high-level roundtable celebrating the one-year anniversary of the International Drought Resilience Alliance highlighted.
An FAO event looking at loss and damage in agrifood systems heard that Indigenous Peoples in Canada are unable to access the loss and damage fund because they live in a developed country.
An FAO report launched during the event highlights that the agriculture sector is losing, on average, USD 123 billion per year due to disaster events, but data on climate-related loss and damage are “scant or non-existent”.
As world leaders gathered in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), for the annual UN Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP 28), many organizations took advantage of their presence to convene high-level events. The Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) covered selected events that took place on 1 December, alongside the World Climate Action Summit.
A high-level roundtable celebrated the one-year anniversary of the International Drought Resilience Alliance (IDRA), which was launched at UNFCCC COP 27 in November 2022, during the Leaders’ Summit. The Alliance is under the leadership of Macky Sall, President of Senegal, and Pedro Sánchez, Prime Minister of Spain.
In opening remarks, Sánchez mentioned tangible results during the Alliance’s first year, including: six new countries – Australia, Colombia, the Comoros, Italy, Paraguay, and Uruguay – joining IDRA; publications such as the Global Drought Snapshot 2023 Report, launched at COP 28; and developing new financial mechanisms to leverage funds. He announced that Spain will host a high-level meeting on droughts in 2024.
Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary, UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), noted that while droughts were once viewed as only affecting some regions, they are now a global threat, impacting on livelihoods and ecosystems and fueling displacement and conflicts.
Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, speaking for the Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad, noted the ripple effects of drought, which has doubled the cost of food and produced and led to more household debt.
Other speakers, including the Presidents of Mauritania and Senegal, highlighted that droughts affect 1.84 billion people throughout the world, with 85% of them living in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). They also emphasized:
- interlinkages between conflicts and droughts, noting one can exacerbate the other;
- our improper use of freshwater – an intersectional issue that impacts agriculture and food production;
- IDRA as a useful tool for collective efforts to restore and sustainably manage soil;
- the need to reinforce the capacities of youth, including young women; and
- the need to ensure that UNCCD is given the same platforms and attention as the other Rio Conventions, and is not marginalized.
The event was organized by the UNCCD Secretariat and IDRA.
Another high-level event, convened by the Government of Botswana and supported by the UN Science-Policy-Business Forum (UN-SPBF), addressed the climate crisis and human settlements nexus in Africa. It explored integrated, cooperative multilateral approaches to tackle some of Africa’s pressing climate challenges.
During the event, President of Botswana Mokgweetsi Masisi highlighted the need for smart investments promoting value addition in the transition away from fossil fuels and harnessing the continent’s potential in solar energy. He said while returns on investment are part of the solution, “reparations must be a driving principle” as well.
Other speakers, including the President of Namibia, referred to: the operationalization of the loss and damage fund at COP 28 as a huge step forward; the need to fill the finance gap to the required USD 1.8 trillion before 2030 and for rapid disbursements to developing countries; knowledge and data to ensure targeted responses consider specific needs of each community; and efforts to promote a holistic, cross-ministerial approach to sustainable development.
Another event saw the launch of the Multilevel Action & Urbanization Pavilion. Co-convened by UN-Habitat and the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), this event highlighted interlinkages between urbanization, climate change, and people and communities at the frontlines of climate change.
Addressing participants former US Vice President Al Gore compared the climate movement to the “great moral-based” movements of the past, such as the civil right and women’s suffrage movements in the US.
Katrin Jammeh, ICLEI, pointed out that, while cities account for 70% of emissions, the local level receives less than 15% of global funding.
During a Multi-level Action Dialogue, speakers noted:
- the potential of local efforts to create a domino effect leading to positive change at a global scale;
- a Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, initiative to create a clean truck programme that was bolstered by state and federal funding and inspired global efforts to implement green shipping;
- Brazil’s reduction of deforestation by 40% in 2023, while increasing affordable housing, creating jobs, and developing sustainable infrastructure in Amazonian cities; and
- the SusHi Tech Tokyo 2024 initiative in pursuit of Tokyo’s commitment to halve their carbon emissions by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.
Highlighting agriculture as the primary sector impacted by loss and damage due to climate change-related events, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) organized an event looking at loss and damage in agrifood systems.
FAO Director General QU Dongyu emphasized the need for, among others, innovations in information management to measure loss and damage and build efficiency in agrifood systems.
During the event, FAO launched a report titled, ‘Loss and Damage in Agrifood Systems: Addressing Gaps and Challenges,’ which highlights the need for improved methodologies to track loss and damage, increase investment in data collection, and increase financing. The report indicates that the agriculture sector is losing, on average, USD 123 billion per year due to disaster events, but that data on climate-related loss and damage are “scant or non-existent.”
A Youth, Indigenous Peoples, and First Nations representative pointed to the inability of Indigenous Peoples in Canada to access the loss and damage fund because they live in a developed country.
Other speakers highlighted that: Indigenous Peoples should have a seat at the table as they are rights holders; slow-onset events, such as increasing water salinity and drought, often become more prominent as their effects reverberate across economic sectors; and data harmonization can connect “the local to the global.”