- New report by ActionAid says without funding to help countries rebuild from climate disasters, nations are being pushed deeper into debt, emptying the public purse and cutting off access to key public services.
- Women in communities vulnerable to climate disasters say ‘world is ending’ as climate disasters set to stifle their rights for decades to come.
- ActionAid calls for long-overdue financing facility to address loss and damage and urges governments to commit to set one up at COP27 in November.
A new report by global women’s rights organisation ActionAid has revealed the long-term extent of climate disasters on women and girls as vulnerable countries with no access to loss and damage funding are pushed further into debt.
‘The Long Shadow of the Climate Crisis: Why a new funding facility must address loss and damage’ demonstrates how women and girls are even more affected by climate disasters than previously recognised in UN climate discourse, with their lives being impacted for years, decades and even generations to come.
The financial toll of climate emergencies like floods, cyclones and drought is causing devastation and pushing nations even deeper into debt. Instead of being offered debt relief after a climate disaster, countries are often forced to draw finances from the public purse, diverting funds from public services, and adopting punishing austerity measures in order to repay their creditors.
During climate disasters, women and girls are disproportionately affected by hunger, displacement, debt and violence. Then, in the aftermath of disasters, when national budgets are severely strained, they are impacted more by reductions in public service provision such as education and healthcare, and public sector job cuts. These cuts also mean women and girls are expected to fill the gap in care provision with their own unpaid time and work, affecting their education and ability to earn incomes.
Government cuts in essential public services to cover the costs of recovery from climate disasters and to repay debt, results in millions of people losing their rights, their opportunities for development, and key lifelines out of misery.
Teresa Anderson, Global Lead for Climate Justice and lead author on the report, said: “This report shows for the first time just how far-reaching and long-lasting the consequences of not having a financing facility to address loss and damage are on women and girls at the sharp edge of the climate crisis.
“In the aftermath of disasters there’s a window of opportunity to help communities bridge crises, recover and rebuild. But if no help is forthcoming, countries are likely to fall into spiralling poverty. Cuts to the public purse mean that critical lifelines out of hardship, such as investment in education, healthcare and climate adaptation – are all lost to the communities that need them most.
“Governments must stop dragging their feet and address the glaring gap of loss and damage finance at COP27.”
Michelle Higelin, Executive Director, ActionAid Australia adds: “Climate-induced loss and damage is a daily reality for communities in the Asia-Pacific region. Women and girls, particularly those with a disability, are disproportionately impacted by this crisis because of pre-existing, deeply rooted gender inequalities. Climate change puts women and girls at greater risk of experiencing gender-based violence and increases their unpaid care burden.”
“Australia, as a wealthy nation and major polluter, has an international responsibility and moral obligation to support women and girls from vulnerable communities to adapt to the climate crisis. At COP27, the Government must unequivocally support the proposal from Pacific Island nations and other low-income countries, for a standalone finance arm to address loss and damage.”
Flora Vano, Country Manager, ActionAid Vanuatu, who is working alongside Ni-Vanuatu women who are directly experiencing climate-induced loss and damage, says: “Climate change is chipping away a whole piece of us. It is like seeing your world demolished before your eyes. This is how we describe loss and damage. The local landscape is changing because of climate change. Traditional plants are becoming extinct. Our islands might disappear. How can we reclaim our identity and our connection to our land if it is submerged under water or destroyed by a severe cyclone. How can you compensate for such losses.”
The report also highlights the impact of the climate-induced drought across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia which is leaving communities at the mercy of the global food crisis, with fatal consequences. The report finds that:
- While average food prices in Europe increased by 3.15% in the two months following the start of the war in Ukraine, local communities in East Africa experienced far more extreme price rises. In Somaliland for example, some communities faced price increases of 163% for wheat, 86% for pasta and 260% for cooking oil.
- More than 1 in 9 people are at risk of starvation across East Africa.
- More than 40% of the population of Somalia are facing acute food insecurity from this October.
- Nearly 55% of Somali children are acutely or severely malnourished.
- The number of people facing starvation in the region is more than twice the population of Sweden, or more than four times the population of Ireland.
ActionAid has launched a petition calling on Australia, the US, the UK, and the EU to agree at COP27 to a funding facility to address loss and damage caused by climate change. To sign the petition click here.
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To read the full report, visit: https://actionaid.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/The-Long-Shadow-of-the-Climate-Crisis-FINAL.pdf