Human Rights Policy and Nonprofit Organizational Development

Climate change and poverty

In Policy Blog on April 25, 2009 at 10:43 pm

I just returned from a four-day training on volunteer organizing with Oxfam America, which was held in Washington DC.  Oxfam’s strategic action plan this year is around climate change and poverty.  As usual Oxfam really has it together–it’s a critical political moment.  There is climate legislation in draft form in the House, and around the corner in the Senate.  In December, the international community will come together in Copenhagen to renew some version of the Kyoto protocol.  It’s critical that any agreement include what is being called adaptation funding to help poor communities cope with climate change and its effects.

I’ll be organizing for the New York City Action Corps, so be on the lookout for notices about events and political action oportunities.

Global warming wasn’t too terribly important to me until I realized that its effects are being felt primarily by poor communities around the world.   Desertification, deforestation and severe weather are already creating disastrous effects.

This is a classic case of externalities being borne unequally– with the developed world largely responsible for the emissions causing the problem and those in marginalized communities disproportionately bearing the brunt. 

Speaking of unequal impact, women in the developing world are far more vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and have less voice in community disaster response planning or resource allocation.   In the developing world, women are responsible for between 60% and 80% of food production, and are generally also responsible for collecting water and fuel like firewood.  When the weather is unpredictable, agriculture becomes more difficult.  Women often have to travel further for water and firewood, taking valuable time away from activities like education.  More on this from the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO).


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