The Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens is a Quasi-International Organization based in Vienna, Austria. The Centre was established in January 2018 and is co-chaired by Ban Ki-moon (Secretary-General of the UN 2007 – 2016) and by Dr Heinz Fischer (President of the Republic of Austria 2004 – 2016).


Monika Froehler says the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens thinks of developing countries’ adaptation priorities in terms of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to provide context. Below, she provides us with some examples:

additional hardships including (sexual) violence. Furthermore, scarcity of resources like water or fuel hit women harder as the main household providers of these commodities. A loss of a harvest, for example, can mean a woman loses her income and the ability to feed her family. But due to inequalities, women are prevented from making decisions about land or family finances. Nor are they educated about land use or financial management. By integrating gender considerations and women into medium- and long-term adaptation, measures become more effective and implementable. Such measures would not exacerbate inequalities and other vulnerabilities; they would help protect the needs of the most vulnerable; and include men and women in adaptation decision-making and implementation. Developing countries often still need to ensure that women and girls have equal tenure rights and access to land, fisheries and forests, independent of their marital status. If I had a big pot of money, I would use it to help developing countries include more women in adaptation strategies. Women’s involvement means better outcomes and more sustainable solutions. Educating more women about reproductive rights would boost mitigation efforts, since population growth is hugely detrimental to climate outcomes. Educating more women about land use and financial management would boost adaptation capacity. At a micro-scale, employing equal numbers of women and men to teach climate change adaptation in developing countries would help remove cultural stigmas and provide women with salaries. It would torpedo cultural norms of women not having financial access and making decisions about resources. More simply, the international community can help to promote policy reform and new legislation to promote gender equality. But don’t reinvent the wheel – use what is there already. Assist and advise countries to be cognizant and active about what they are obliged to do with already existing pro-women legislation. There should also be more investment in the basic social services infrastructure in developing countries to reduce women’s workload and increase their time for education and income generating opportunities. We should create opportunities for women to self-organize, support skills training for women and have women train women – it makes a big difference to break patriarchal structures.

SDG 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages. Developing countries need plans and capacity to protect human health from the worst impacts of climate change, such as heat waves, floods and droughts, and the ongoing degradation of water and food security. There are more than 1.6 million deaths worldwide attributed to indoor-air pollution every year, just as an example of one health-related risk. More healthcare workers are needed to better manage these new risks, as well as existing diseases such as cholera and malaria or massive outbreaks like Ebola or COVID-19.

SDG 6: Ensure access to water and sanitation for all. Climate change is increasing variability in the water cycle and reducing the predictability of water availability, affecting water quality, exacerbating scarcity and threatening sustainable development. Developing countries have to focus on clean water and sanitation – on ensuring their pumping, transportation and treatment infrastructure meets the needs of their growing populations. Some mitigation measures, such as the expanded use of biofuels, are further exacerbating water scarcity. Women in developing countries are hit harder by this climate risk: if water is harder to find, women’s toil becomes even more burdensome, and their opportunities for income generation are further eroded.

SDG 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. Adaptation in developing countries must take account of energy risks. Energy is critical and people without sustainable access to energy are deprived of the opportunity for socio-economic progress. Approximately one billion people around the world live without access to energy and many millions still do not have access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking. With the depletion of forests, women will again spend longer collecting fuel at the cost of economic opportunities. There will be wider implications, too. Hydro-power-reliant countries, for example, are impacted increasingly by unpredictable rainfall. Efforts to diversify the energy mix in developing countries are more important than ever.

SDG 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. We need to strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters globally, but particularly in developing countries. It will also be crucial to improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change adaptation, impact reduction and early warning, but not at the expense of mitigation. This applies to developed and developing countries alike. Climate change after all is no local or regional phenomenon, but a veritable global challenge.

SDG 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss. Adaptation needs to address agriculture that is under pressure from extreme weather conditions. Even forecasting weather can be difficult for farmers – they can’t make informed decisions about managing risk – because they don’t have access to technology. Efforts to find resilient crops and multi-year yields need ramping up, too. Life on land is also important when considering the positive and negative impacts of migration upon local land systems. Deforestation can degrade soil systems and more than 70 percent of the world’s poor live in rural areas and depend directly on biodiversity and ecosystems for their subsistence. Like many of the other adaptation priorities we have addressed above, the dangers of failing to act are significant and multi-fold.


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