Climate undermines almost all development goals

Whether it is combating hunger, poverty and disease or access to clean water and energy: climate change and extreme weather are turning the entire development agenda upside down. This is evidenced by a joint report issued by eighteen United Nations institutions and agencies.

Of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — a set of seventeen different goals that must be achieved by 2030 — barely 15 percent have been met, the report says. a reportcoordinated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Between 1970 and 2021, extreme weather caused nearly 12,000 natural disasters, resulting in more than 2 million casualties and $4.3 trillion in economic damage. More than 90 percent of these victims and 60 percent of the damage are borne by developing countries.

Not on the right path

“2023 has made clear that climate change has begun,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres. “Record temperatures are roasting the land and heating the sea, while extreme weather is wreaking havoc around the world. While we know this is just the beginning, the international response is inadequate. In the meantime, we are halfway to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals By 2030, the world is definitely not on the right track.

The report lists specific development areas made more difficult by climate change. This impact is clearly evident, for example, in the fight against hunger, because severe droughts and floods undermine food security. But climate change also has an impact on goals related to clean water and affordable energy, for example. For example, global warming is making the water cycle less predictable, while also dramatically changing the demand and supply of energy. Things are also going in the wrong direction when it comes to liveable cities, healthy oceans and multilateral cooperation.

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The report indicates that science is crucial to changing the course of matters. For example, better weather forecasts could help improve food production, and integration of epidemiology and climate information could help the world respond more quickly to pandemics.

“Revolutionary scientific and technological advances, such as detailed modelling, artificial intelligence, and very short-range forecasting, can provide the breakthroughs we need to achieve our goals,” said Petteri Taalas, President of the World Meteorological Organization. “Early warning systems for all by 2027 can not only save lives and incomes, but also help secure sustainable development.”

Climate action

Like almost every report on climate change, the authors call for rapid and radical action to mitigate climate change. To bring the world into line with the Paris Climate Agreement, emissions must be reduced by 30 to 45 percent by 2030. “This will require broad, rapid and systemic transformations.”

“Science continues to show that we are not doing enough to reduce our climate emissions and meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement,” said Inger Andersen, Director of the United Nations Environment Programme. “We must step up our ambition and action, and we must all roll up our sleeves to transform our economies through a just transition.”

Megan Vasquez

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