LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Governments are failing those most at risk from climate change by not placing them at the heart of efforts to adapt to more extreme weather and rising seas, researchers said in a report on the U.N. development goals, calling it “a critical concern”.
The analysis of progress made by 86 countries found that just over half their strategies aimed at building climate resilience overlook groups bearing the brunt of environmental pressures, such as indigenous people and low-caste Indians.
The index from the London-based Overseas Development Institute (ODI) assessed whether countries are on track to meet a commitment to “leave no one behind”, a key pillar of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed in 2015.
Overall, it said 55 countries were “ready” to meet that commitment, 24 partially so, five were “not ready”, and two lacked sufficient data.
The 17 goals aim to tackle the world’s most challenging problems, from ending poverty and hunger to combating climate change, all by 2030.
This year’s ODI index reviews for the first time how far government strategies to adapt to climate change consider groups vulnerable to wilder weather and other global warming impacts.
ODI researchers analyzed the language in climate change action plans produced by countries reporting on their progress toward the SDGs at the U.N. High-Level Political Forum in New York this week and those that did last year.
Report co-author Amy Kirbyshire told the Thomson Reuters Foundation governments talk about helping climate-vulnerable people, but “in those documents the reality appears to be that they aren’t focusing enough on the groups who are at risk”.
In a sample of 57 climate change action plans submitted for the Paris Agreement to curb global warming, researchers found that keywords such as “poverty”, “women” and “ethnic” did not appear once in almost half, she added.
National efforts to adapt to climate change must reach the most vulnerable people if governments are to keep a promise to “leave no one behind” in fulfilling the SDGs, the report said.
Women, minorities and other marginalized groups must be included in decision-making on how to respond to climate change, Kirbyshire said.
Governments should start by paying more attention to them when they assess disaster risks, she added.
“It’s about ... making sure those groups are seen and heard, and have a voice,” she said.
Reporting by Isabelle Gerretsen, Editing by Megan Rowling. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, climate change, resilience, women's rights, trafficking and property rights. Visit news.trust.org/