Impact of Climate Change on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
On September 25th 2015, countries adopted a set of goals toend poverty,protect the planet, andensure prosperity for allas part of a new sustainable development agenda. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years (www.un.org). However the adverse effects of climate change may hinder the ability of Developing Countries to achieve all the SDGs. Below is a brief analysis of how climate change will affect each goal.
End poverty in all its forms everywhere; Climate change worsens existing poverty, inequalities and trigger both new vulnerabilities and some opportunities.
End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture; All dimensions of food security including availability, accessibility, utilization and stability will be affected by climate change. Climate change may lead to 170 million more undernourished people in 2080.
Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages; Children and pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to climate related health risks. There is medium confidence about the increasing risk of waterborne diseases and water pollution. Health costs are also most likely to rise, for instance in Burundi, Malawi, Rwanda and Sudan in patient treatment costs could increase by 20%.
Ensure inclusive and equitable Quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all; Education facilities could be vulnerable to climate related disasters (Target 4a). In Ethiopia and Malawi, droughts and floods have increased pressure to take children out of school.
Achieve gender equality and Empower all women and girls; There are significant gender dimensions to climate change. Statistical evidence from 141 countries shows that disasters kill more women at an earlier age than men. Climate change also threatens equal access to resources (Target 5a). In Uganda, men were found to be able to amass land after floods while droughts reduced women’s non land assets.
Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all; Many climate change effects are change related including increased floods and droughts. Sanitation (Target 6.2) and water quality (Target 6.6) are both threatened as storm off adds to sewage. Water ecosystems including mountains and forests are vulnerable to climate change effects. Adapting water infrastructure may add 10-20% to the costs needed by developing countries to meet water related SDGs.
Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all; As Low developed countries (LDCs) are vulnerable to climate impacts, increased fossil fuel use could particularly affect them. Hydropower and bioenergy are both vulnerable to climate induced changes in water availability.
Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all; Target 8.1 aims at sustaining GDP growth in LDCs above 7% per year. However climate related hazards affect GDP.
Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster Innovation; Climate change can impact on energy, water, transport and health infrastructure. The IPCC provides robust evidence about impacts on water supply infrastructure and high agreement about negative impacts on transport.
Reduce inequality within and among countries; The IPCC highlights robust evidence that the socially and economically disadvantaged are disproportionately affected by climate impacts because they have the weakest buffer to climate hazards.
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable; Extreme events damage housing and particularly affect informal structures threatening safe housing. Floods and mudslides have led to huge urban settlements.
Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns; Rising temperatures may threaten efforts to reduce food losses including post harvest losses (Target 12.3) as changes in temperature can result in geographical shifts of pests and diseases.
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts; Target 13.1 aims to strengthen resilience to climate related hazards, however limits to climate change adaptation include lack of resources, information and physiological limits.
Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development; Marine species composition is changing as the ocean warms. Uganda is one of the 19 countries identified as highly dependent on fisheries. In East Africa, warming has increased. Lake Tanganyika’s primary productivity with fishing yield reducing by an estimated 30%.
Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss; Tree species are vulnerable to drought and fire induced mortality during dry periods. An estimated 20-30% of assessed plant and animal species are at increased risk of extinction with 2 to 3 degrees warming.
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels; Some risk factors for increased violence within states are climate sensitive for example conflicts resulting from shared water sources.
Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development; Climate change will increase the financial resources and capacity building required for LDCs to achieve the SDGs in context of increasing competition for resources.