Tehran hosts UNFPA climate change meeting

November 19, 2009 - 0:0

TEHRAN – The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) center held a conference in Tehran University on Wednesday elaborating about the state of the world population in 2009.

The meeting entitled “Facing a Changing World: Women, Population and Climate”, calls attention to women and vulnerable populations in the response to climate change.
UNFPA representative in Iran, Mehmet Hulki Uz, the deputy chairman of Majlis Health Committee, Anoushiravan Mohseni, Environment Department Director Mohammad-Javad Mohammadizadeh as well as university professors and population experts attended the meeting.
This year’s report points out that the climate change is not just about technology. It is a human problem brought about by human activity. People are affected by climate change. People need to adapt to it. And only people can stop it.
The following is a short summary of the report:
Family planning, reproductive health care and gender relations could influence the future course of climate change and affect how humanity adapts to rising seas, worsening storms and severe droughts.
International climate-change agreements and national policies are more likely to succeed in the long run, if they take into account population dynamics, the relations between the genders, and women’s well-being and access to services and opportunities.
Most of the debate about climate change today has revolved around countries' relative responsibilities for limiting the growth of green house gas emissions and for funding efforts to shift to low-carbon energy and other technologies.
The climate debate of the future must take into account the human and gender dimensions of every aspect of the problem.
----Elements of climate change
The temperature of the earth’s surface has risen 0.74 degrees Celsius in the past 100 years. This increase may not seem much, but this warming has been sufficient to disrupt many of the planet’s ecosystems to pose significant risks to human well-being. More importantly, if recent trends continue or accelerate as many climate scientists predict, the earth’s temperature may raise another four to six degrees by 2100, with likely catastrophic effect on the environment, habitats, economies and people.
----Impact on people
Climate change has the potential to reverse the hard-earned development gains of the past decades and the progress toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Setbacks are likely to result from climate-driven water scarcity, intense tropical storms and storm surges, floods, loss of glacial melt water for irrigated agriculture, changes in food availability and possible health crises. Climate change threatens to worsen poverty and burden marginalized and vulnerable groups with additional hardships. In Southeast Asia, for example, about 221 million people already live below the $2-a-day poverty line. Many of the region’s poor live in coastal areas and in low lying deltas, and many of these poor people are smallholder farmers or people who earn their living from the seas. Poor households are especially vulnerable to climate change because their marginal income provides little or no access to health services or other safety nets to protect them against the threats from changing conditions. Also as a result of climate change, sea levels will rise, threatening low-lying densely populated coastal areas and small island states.
----Mitigating climate change
The influence of human activity on climate change is complex. It is about what we consume, the types of energy we produce and use, whether we live in a city or on a farm, whether we live in a rich or poor country, whether we are young or old, what we eat, and even the extent to which women and men enjoy equal rights and opportunities. It is also about our growing numbers -- approaching 7 billion.
---Disproportionate burden on women
Climate change will also exacerbate the gaps between rich and poor and amplify the inequities between women and men. Women -- particularly those in poor countries -- will be affected differently than men. They are among the most vulnerable to climate change, partly because in many countries they make up a larger share of the agricultural work force and partly because they tend to have access to fewer income-earning opportunities. Women manage households and care for family members, which often limits their mobility and increases their vulnerability to sudden weather-related natural disasters. Drought and erratic rainfall force women to work harder to secure food, water and energy for their homes. Girls drop out of school to help their mothers with these tasks.
----Reining in climate change
Governments must anticipate and prepare for the stresses climate change is likely to add to the already-challenging business of advancing development, alleviating poverty, assuring access to education and health care, and moving toward gender equality. Successful approaches to climate change are much more likely to emerge in the context of sustainable economic and social development, respect for human rights and cultural diversity, the empowerment of women and access to reproductive health for all