Countries must use this Earth Day as an opportunity to invest in climate adaptation measures, Ban Ki-moon, the former United Nations secretary-general, said in a statement on Wednesday.
The veteran diplomat said that climate change already poses “risks to lives and livelihoods,” and that these consequences will only multiply in the decades to come. Countries have to rapidly accelerate their climate commitments to prevent further environmental decline.
“No nation or community is immune from the impact of climate change, but the vulnerable are feeling the effects first and worst,” Ban said.
Climate change is a neutral force, but it's happening to societies rife with inequalities. As a result, people living in poverty are more likely to be impacted by climate change. Women are also more impacted than men, and Black people, Indigneous people, and people of color (BIPOC) are disproportionately harmed. The intersectional nature of climate impacts means that all efforts to protect the planet must prioritize climate justice.
This means that at-risk communities must receive the resources they need to prepare for and adapt to climate shocks, setting them up for a resilient future.
The world’s smallholder farmers, in particular, need urgent assistance. In many agricultural hotspots, climate change is making it harder to grow crops. Farmers who tend small plots of land are both losing their sources of income and food in the process. Without money to recover and adapt, these farmers are often forced to sell their livestock and land to avoid hunger.
Supporting farmers means first and foremost reducing greenhouse gas emissions to prevent catastrophic global warming. In material terms, it also means providing them with the technology, seeds, and market access that will allow them to withstand climate impacts. Facilitating farmer cooperatives can help farmers build local networks of power and resources.
Global Citizen is joining the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens in its advocacy around this cause and overall climate action.
Supporting smallholder farmers would have benefits beyond local harvests and individual income levels. It would also reduce global hunger at a time when hunger is on the rise, bolster local and national economies, support broader community welfare, and mitigate the factors that lead to conflict.
More than 40 leaders are attending the US Leaders Summit on Climate on Earth Day. While they’ll primarily focus on how to align policy with the Paris climate agreement, they can also carve out space to collaborate on global adaptation efforts, Ban said.
“Only through such solidarity can we limit climate risks and build a world of peace, dignity, and prosperity on a healthy planet — leaving no one behind,” he said.
Disclosure: The Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens is a funding partner of Global Citizen.