Helen Clark: “What will it take to achieve coherence in the 2015 agreements?” Speech at closing session of the Development & Climate Days event on “Zero Poverty. Zero Emissions. Within a generation?” at the UNFCCC COP, Lima, Peru

Dec 7, 2014

I am pleased to participate in this panel on achieving coherence in the 2015 agreements as we strive for “Zero Poverty. Zero Emissions. Within a Generation”.

Three global agreements are scheduled to be reached next year – on the post-2015 agenda, on a new framework for disaster risk reduction, and on climate change. The outcomes of each will be more powerful if there is synergy between them. There are signs that a consensus is emerging that eradicating extreme poverty, building resilience to disaster, and reducing carbon emissions must go hand in hand.

This convergence is driven by awareness that while remarkable development progress can be and has been achieved, it can also be knocked off course by untrammeled climate change, and by lack of resilience to disasters and shocks in general. As well, many people have yet to benefit from global or national development gains.

Around one-seventh of the world’s population continues to live in extreme poverty - on under $1.25 per day[1].  A majority of the extremely poor are dependent on climate-sensitive livelihoods and environments. For them, climate change raises issues of economic and personal survival.

According to the World Bank [2], from 1980 to 2012, more than 18,000 natural disasters were reported, amounting to nearly $3,800 billion in economic loss and claiming 1.4 million lives. These impacts, along with those related to climate change, often send hard won development progress into reverse.

At UNDP, we have no doubt that coherence across the poverty eradication, disaster reduction, and climate agendas is essential for inclusive, low emission, and climate-resilient development. Achieving sustainable development requires that we achieve that coherence.

The process to gather inputs into the post-2015 development agenda has been unprecedented in its inclusiveness and scale. The proposal of the UN’s Open Working Group echoes the calls of citizens around the world to protect current and future development gains by advancing across the strands of sustainable development, with progress being underpinned by building more peaceful, more inclusive societies.

Such an integrated approach is at the core of the partnerships which UNDP has with developing countries. In our experience, it is possible to tackle poverty, lower carbon emissions, and address other environmental and development priorities at the same time.

Through our partnerships, including with the Global Environment Facility, and the Governments of Japan, Germany, Canada, Australia, and the European Commission, UNDP has supported more than 140 countries to access over US$1 billion in grant financing. This helps countries to adapt to climate change and pursue low emissions development in ways which also advance socio-economic progress.

The lessons we have learned from such integrated and coherent approaches are available to UN Member States as they work on finding the synergies across the post-2015, disaster reduction, and climate agreements. These lessons include:

1) The importance of mainstreaming climate risk management into development planning and disaster reduction, and ensuring that the capacities are there to follow through are built.

UNDP, in partnership with a number of UN Agencies, including UNEP, FAO, and UNITAR, supports countries to integrate provision for disaster risk reduction, including around climate change, into their development planning, policies, and strategies. The objective is to assist Finance and Planning Ministries to budget appropriate amounts for key line ministries, such as agriculture, infrastructure, and health, so that climate change risks can be addressed effectively in each sector.

For example,

• we have been supporting Mali to make its agriculture more climate resilient – in ways which are grounded in the Government’s overall Poverty Reduction Strategy.

• we have been supporting Samoa to adopt a whole-of-government approach to climate change adaptation. With financing from the Global Environment Facility’s Least Developed Countries Fund, the Government will be able to incorporate consideration of its long-term climate change and disaster-risk management challenges in its planning and budgeting processes. This will enable Samoa to manage around its fast changing climate conditions – which, without adaptation, could otherwise erode its impressive development gains.

2) UNDP has learned that empowering communities to identify solutions and scale up local innovations is an effective way of supporting climate-resilient livelihoods.

In Sudan, for example, UNDP is deploying resources from the Government of Canada and other sources to help communities acquire the tools, know-how, and support they need to address climate risks and food security. Incomes among the 20,000 beneficiaries - at least half of whom are in women-headed households - have increased by twenty per cent. This is helping to improve education, health outcomes, and the stewardship of natural resources.

3) UNDP has learned the importance of strengthening the capacity of countries to chart their own path towards a zero poverty – zero emissions future. With sufficient capacity, countries can, for example, develop plans for, and access and attract investment for, energy sources which are environmentally sustainable and widely accessible to poor communities.

In northern Pakistan, with GEF financing, UNDP has supported local authorities to bring energy-efficient housing improvements to more than 2,500 households. More than 14,000 others followed suit – adopting the same standards on their own. As a result, 64 kilotons of wood fuel has been saved, and more than 100,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions have been avoided. New livelihoods have also been developed for villagers, mainly women, including in the sale and promotion of cook stoves. Wood fuel consumption has fallen by more than fifty per cent, freeing up valuable disposable income, improving indoor air quality, and allowing women and children more time for other activities.

4) UNDP has learned the importance of supporting countries to stimulate green entrepreneurship. We help countries incentivize low-emissions and climate-resilient solutions by reducing the barriers small and medium-sized enterprises active in these areas face to the necessary markets, credit, and technologies.

Niger, for example, used climate finance secured with the assistance of UNDP, to increase farmers’ access to water resources during droughts. More than 3,500 farmers were supported to make the transition to drought-resistant varieties of millet, sorghum, and cowpea. Through this vegetable garden programme, the annual income of women farmers increased, on average, by more than US$200 [3].

To support decision-making on when to plant, rain gauges were installed in eighty villages, and women received training on reading them. This combination of support led to an increase in the quality and quantity of agricultural goods, and helped families in Niger become more resilient to drought conditions.

The lessons UNDP has learned from integrated approaches across the development, disaster risk reduction, and climate change agendas are helping us to support many countries to lay solid foundations for sustainable development. To build on these foundations in the 2015 summits and agreements, it will be important to draw on the experience of what works in practice. That should inform the finalisation of coherent agendas across the three agreements, and help improve the lives of people everywhere and the health of the one planet we all share.




[1] World Bank, 2014
[2] World Bank 2013, Building Resilience: Integrating Climate and Disaster Risk into Development.
[3] UNDP Project Implementation Review. 2014.

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