Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Gender-differentiated climate, environmental and disaster impacts 2/

 The twenty-first century constellation of economic, environmental and climate crises is largely attributable to the historic patterns of unsustainable production, consumption and land use, exploitation of marine, coastal and terrestrial resources, wealth accumulation and the destructive dependency on fossil fuels. These patterns were initiated by industrialized countries, whereas the impacts are more acutely felt by the less affluent nations. These unsustainable patterns are at the root of many inequalities, including gender inequalities. Scientific projections on rising average global temperatures mean that ecosystems and people’s interaction with them will suffer permanent changes even if global emission reduction targets are met.1 Those least responsible for climate change are most adversely affected by it and women and girls in poor countries disproportionately so. While the impacts of COVID-19 were expected to lead to 150 million more extreme poor, climate change and climate related disasters are expected to push an additional 132 million people into extreme poverty by 2030 – unless profound and targeted climate action is taken and folded into pandemic response and recovery measures.2 

 Human actions are resulting in a disastrous loss of biodiversity and endangering the earth’s interconnected ecosystems, human life, settlements, sources of food, clean water and air, and demolishing natural defences against extreme weather and disasters. Globally, indigenous peoples, local communities, the rural and urban poor, and women and girls – who are the most affected by land and resource tenure insecurity and environmental degradation – disproportionately suffer the effects of biodiversity loss.

 Climate and environmental impacts on the earth’s oceans are equally or more acute. Oceans have absorbed more than 90 percent of excess heat from global warming and absorb around 30 percent of human-induced carbon dioxide emissions, leading to species extinction and disruptions of marine ecosystems as well as people’s livelihoods that depend on them.3 An ecosystem approach to mitigation and adaptation initiatives involves the conservation and restoration of coastal and marine ecosystems, including mangroves, salt marshes and seagrasses. In addition to restoring ocean biodiversity, the protection of marine areas is motivated by the fact that oceansserve as major carbon sinks; marine ecosystems provide protection against storm surges and sea level rise as well as the resources that sustain communities in coastal and marine areas, particularly women from different marginalized groups, including indigenous peoples, and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

 Therefore, all environmental efforts must take into account the commercialization of oceans, plundering of natural resources, pollution, global wealth inequalities, and the striking gaps in ocean governance, with different legal instruments governing different uses of the ocean (shipping, fisheries, deep sea mining, etc.), in addition to the impacts of neoliberal economic policies, binding free trade and investment agreements, and corporate capture of the blue economy.

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