The attainment of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals would be derailed due to changes in weather patterns around the world, experts warned. Scientific research and medical journals say it will affect food production and economic growth in many countries especially developing ones.
Experts say those factors and others will make it harder to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, which seek to respond to the world’s main development challenges. The MDGs, include efforts to improve health, cut child mortality and reduce poverty and the spread of HIV/AIDS.
A Zambian non-governmental organization, the Civil Society MDG Campaign, says in order to reach the goals, the government will have to address global warming. Henry Malumo is former campaign coordinator for the NGO. “Studies that have been conducted so far do indicate that the whole world or Africa in particular, may not actually attain these goals due to climate change. Climate change would be extreme conditions of floods and droughts. Climate change does affect most of the MDGs related to health, gender and issues of water and sanitation. Experts say there are many ways climate change can affect efforts to reach the MDGs.
The UN resident coordinator for Zambia, Aeneas Chuma, says HIV is not a health issue, it’s a development issue, and so if you look at the socio-economic impact of HIV, of course its linked to what is happening in the economy, what's happening in the weather, what's happening in agriculture.
He says HIV-infected people and other vulnerable groups could end up as "climate refugees", HIV makes it more difficult for infected rural people to farm. So they leave their homes to seek treatment or jobs in urban areas.
Experts say climate change also affects MDGs aimed at improving women's health and economic and political empowerment. Most women are involved in some form of agriculture, and the decline in crop productivity puts an increased burden on their health as they try to earn an income.
Maternal and child health are affected by heat-related deaths, shortages of drinking water and increases in diseases carried by mosquitoes.Displacement leads to reduced access to education, which is another of the MDGs.
Climate change also affects agriculture. Increasing floods and droughts lead to a decline in food production. And this in turn leads to an increase in poverty, hunger and environmental sustainability, slowing MDG efforts to reverse these problems. Variations in rainfall and flooding put additional strains on poorer communities. Many grow their own food, but climate change is likely to increase rainfall.
A youth-oriented environmental pressure group – Development Partnership International (DPI) is calling for concerted efforts to protect the environment.
The DPI's media and strategic coordinator, Richard Musauka, said over-cutting of trees will lead to environmental degradation because trees absorb carbon dioxide, the primary gas causing climate change. They also release oxygen, needed for humans to breathe. We are just posing a death trap for ourselves by cutting trees carelessly. We need to regard these forests or the environment as our survival partners because we can not survive as human beings when there are no trees or forests, he said.
The British High Commissioner to Zambia, Alistair Harrison, says climate change needs to be fought by every citizen of the world. He recommends that developing nations and industrialized countries work together to fight global warming by taking urgent action.
The world has got to do more, not just the developing countries, not just the developed countries. The sad fact is that its the developed countries that have more contributions to the green house gases which have led to global warming but its many of the developing countries and I think many of the developing African countries who will probably suffer most because of global warming and the fragility of the climates in Africa and the fragility of the agriculture systems. But I think the only conclusion to draw from that fact is that we got to act together, he said.
UNDP has been involved in an inter-agency effort to explore and summarize the current state of knowledge on adaptation to climate change and the need for its integration into efforts to eradicate poverty and sustain development efforts. The UNDP suggests that the world start using safer ways to protect the environment and ensure that green house emissions be monitored and controlled.
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