…Canada`s ‘best practice’ with SDG 5 to drive progress
“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.” —-Robert Swan, Author
The nature of the environment around the world is deteriorating at an alarming rate, and communities are experiencing the undermining effects of climate change in dramatic and costly ways. Long-term development gains are diminished when the environment is threatened, because people living in poverty are disproportionately affected by climate change and environmental degradation, and their livelihoods and well-being depend on accessing a healthy and sustainably managed environment.
Climate change and environmental degradation disproportionately affect women and girls. Yet women and girls can be powerful agents of change if given access and control over environmental resources.
To eradicate poverty and gender inequality and support the transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient world, the following issues must be addressed:
- Average global temperatures have risen by one degree Celsius above pre-industrial times and are set to continue rising
- Air and water pollution leads to premature deaths.
- Sea levels and temperatures are rising, destroying coastal communities
- Freshwater supplies — both groundwater and surface water — are under significant threat
- Deforestation, desertification and land degradation threaten rural livelihoods
- Climate change and climate-induced disasters affect rural and urban areas in different ways
- Climate change and environmental degradation disproportionately affect women and girls
Canada’s ‘best practice’ to environment and climate action is human rights-based, and aims to challenge the discrimination faced by women and girls, and by all marginalized and vulnerable individuals, such as Indigenous people, migrants and people with disabilities.
Effective action against climate change and environmental degradation will support the rights of people living in developing and fragile states, whose basic needs are threatened by the effects of climate change, including conflict over the growing shortage of natural resources.
Canada works with all actors in society to create enabling environments that promote investment in climate-smart and environmentally sustainable practices and technologies. Canada also supports innovative perspectives, policies, approaches, models, technologies and partnerships to more effectively address the complex challenges faced by people who are most vulnerable to climate change and environmental degradation.
Recognizing that women and girls are uniquely affected by the damaging effects of climate change, and also that they can be stewards of change, Canada works with all sectors of society, including international organizations, government institutions, businesses and civil society, to ensure that women and girls play a leadership role in designing, developing and implementing strategic responses to climate change and other key environmental and resource issues.
Canada`s ‘best practice’ with policy
The best practice is to follow the advice posted on every railroad crossing: stop, look, listen
— Sam Keen, author, professor and philosopher
Canada`s efforts are in three routes to action:
- Strengthening environmental governance and enhancing women’s participation in decision-making
Canada’s objective in this path is to support the efforts of government institutions and international organizations to develop, finance, implement and enforce strong environment-related and environmentally responsive diplomacy, laws, policies, plans, frameworks and services. This path has a strategic focus on engaging representatives of the private sector and civil society, particularly women and vulnerable people, as active leaders and participants. This approach supports evidence-based decision making grounded in reliable environmental data and analysis.
To ensure that developing countries are supported in their efforts to safeguard the environment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, and that women and vulnerable people actively participate in climate mitigation and adaptation efforts, Canada:
- works in partnership with international organizations and government institutions to strengthen climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.
- seeks to enhance government capacity to design and enforce laws and practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to improve environment-related laws and practices that may undermine gender equality.
- works with women-led groups to help them engage on environmental issues and ensure that their specific needs and interests are taken into account in strategies that address climate change, resource use and environmental degradation;
- engages a full spectrum of stakeholders, including women and men, girls and boys, as key partners in bringing about desired environmental and social outcomes.
- fosters decision-making processes that are based on evidence and that rely on sound climate and environmental science.
- supports the training and empowerment of local, Indigenous, youth and women-led groups as part of environmental research and education processes, so that they are better equipped to ensure that their knowledge and experiences are taken into account.
- Investing in low-carbon and climate-resilient economies
Canada’s objective in this path is to promote the transition toward low-carbon and climate-resilient economies. This goal is pursued by working with a full range of financial partners, as well as with think tanks, universities and civil society, to increase investment and business opportunities and enhance livelihoods, including for women and vulnerable people, in low-carbon, clean-growth sectors. Canada aims to improve access to, and the availability of, gender-responsive financing for climate change mitigation and adaptation initiatives, and of innovative environmentally sustainable technologies, prioritizing those that respond to the needs and priorities of women.
To support the transition towards low-carbon and climate-resilient economies, Canada:
- provides concessional financing to initiatives that support clean growth and that help developing countries lower their emissions and adapt to climate change.
- supports innovative strategies and tools to enhance resilience building and adaptation, such as climate risk insurance.
- seeks opportunities to increase the use of renewable energy, phase out carbon-based energy, support clean technologies, and increase energy efficiency
- fosters innovative and gender-sensitive financing strategies to increase clean growth in sectors such as agriculture, transportation, forestry and manufacturing.
- supports women’s skills development and job opportunities in clean growth, science and environment-related fields to help ensure that the social and economic benefits of development are equally shared. This can be achieved through better access to climate finance for women-led initiatives and enterprises, and greater awareness among partners of the need for gender-responsive initiatives, such as training programs that address the specific needs and interests of women.
- Environmental practices that support healthy, resilient, adaptive communities
Canada’s objective in this path is to support the adoption of environmentally sound practices to build resilience, strengthen climate change adaptation and mitigation, reduce pollution, and improve sustainable natural resource management. This path strategically focuses on supporting the leadership and ownership of women, youth and vulnerable groups in developing local practices and technologies, such as climate-smart agriculture and food systems, sustainable agriculture and forestry, and comprehensive land and water management, that equip them to plan, prepare and respond to sustainability challenges. This approach also incorporates disaster-risk reduction, including strategies to improve climate resilience.
Addressing environmental and climate challenges requires harnessing traditional ecological knowledge and experiences, particularly those of women, who, as stewards of natural resources at the household and community levels, play a unique role in agriculture, food security, livelihoods and management of natural resources. Involving youth in these efforts is critical to ensuring that environmental benefits are sustained for future generations, as well as to foster economic opportunities.
To ensure that its development assistance helps build healthy, resilient and adaptive communities, Canada:
- supports local involvement, knowledge building and ownership of environmental practices, infrastructure and technologies that ensure that vulnerable and marginalized people are equipped and able to deal with the onset of natural disasters, environmental degradation and various consequences of climate change;
- involves local and Indigenous peoples in building, sharing and maintaining their traditional ecological knowledge, as an essential tool to understand and solve sustainability issues;
- promotes women and Indigenous people’s access to, and control over, land, water and forests, including through land ownership and community-based natural resource management, as key components of community resilience to climate change and natural disasters;
- supports the adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices and food systems (including the introduction of new techniques and seed varieties), integrated water resource management and sustainable soil, land and forest management, in a manner that recognizes and responds to the particular needs and priorities of both women and men.
- supports developing countries, particularly coastal and small island developing nations, to implement climate change adaptation measures and undertake disaster preparation, recovery and reconstruction.
- fosters improvements in the immediate economic and living conditions of women and girls, by developing climate-resilient infrastructure, technologies and practices that address the gender imbalance.
Best practices can always be leveraged by others to also make positive progress on policies and initiatives. Our nation can incorporate measures from this policy and make it count where applicable to ensure that issues on climate change and overall environmental integrity are thoroughly embraced.
Action Area Policy: Environment and Climate Action
About the Writer
Ebenezer specializes in Development Communication, International Development, Innovative Finance for SMEs and Sustainability.