Blog: Experts mull ‘long-term perspective’ and meaningful role for youth in response to climate impacts

Blog: Experts mull ‘long-term perspective’ and meaningful role for youth in response to climate impacts
26 February 2021

The Climate Centre earlier this week jointly hosted an expert workshop on responding to climate impacts in support of the virtual UK Climate and Development Ministerial session on 31 March, in partnership with Italy.

Addressing the central question of how to focus on a “long-term perspective” in managing risk today, the workshop brought together specialists from the global South and North, and generated a consensus that current risk-management mechanisms are “not fit for purpose”.

Current responses to the humanitarian impacts of climate change are just that, responses – stuck in a frustrating cycle of often predictable disasters followed by recovery and reconstruction.

The existing system fails to reliably bridge the climate-development-humanitarian divide. There is a lack of long-term thinking on the part of donors who are not incentivized to plan beyond three-to-five-year ‘projects’.

And the building blocks of development are often missing, providing the backdrop for a failure to anticipate and manage risk.

We need to tackle marginalization
and vulnerability…starting with local
ecosystems and education, creating space
for meaningful engagement of the young

How can we do better? We can start by moving to a more desirable sequence of innovating, preparing and adapting, replacing some systems entirely with more resilient ones that include investing in early warning, planned urbanization, infrastructure, and social protection.

The crucial policy instrument of social protection, for example, underpins more resilient societies, but currently does not focus enough on climate, is not anticipatory or shock-responsive itself, or is simply absent. 

We need to think of climate change as a challenge demanding different national policies on education, health, social protection, and growth to establish stronger rights-based foundations for citizenship.

This involves embracing long-term visions and policies extending as far as 30 years ahead, supporting systemic approaches for managing and financing the reduction of risk.

Financial support for both adaptation and loss and damage should be focused on locally led priorities and initiatives, with the great bulk of support reaching the grass roots.

We can also learn lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic, putting local actors at the centre of decision-making for effective, flexible and accessible climate finance, and to thwart capture by elites.

‘Step change’

We need to tackle marginalization and vulnerability, investing in flexible and innovative responses – starting with local ecosystems and education, creating the space for meaningful engagement of young people in forming policy.

Participants saw accountability as a key principle in development and adaptation, but only when applied to all actors at all levels – not just accountability of beneficiaries to donors.

Monday’s workshop was the first of four jointly organized with the European E3G think tank, the International Institute for Environment and Development, and the World Resources Institute.

The UK Ministerial it provides input to – itself part of the run-up to COP 26 in Glasgow – “will bring together countries and partners to focus on… mitigating the impacts of climate change, debt relief, and access to finance,” its official website says. 

“This process from the UK government is critical for bringing together experts from all regions to design practical solutions with developing countries to deliver a step change on climate and development this year,” said IIED Director Andrew Norton.

Reyen fled to Turkey from fighting in Syria and now lives in Gaziantep with her father and sister. She volunteers at her local Turkish Red Crescent community centre, helping with art classes, and the family receive cash assistance from the Turkish Red Crescent and the IFRC, supported by the European Commission. “I want peace for us,” she says. “I have big dreams that I want to achieve despite the hardship. The secret to life is trying.” (Photo: Corrie Butler/IFRC)