Years of extreme weather events have put the science of climate change in the spotlight—forwarding irrefutable evidence that the planet is indeed at the brink of unmanageable and irreversible change. Informed by climate science, efforts to prevent the looming climate crisis have led us to alternative practices that are key to sustainable development. Unfortunately, the political economy of climate change tells us another story.
Knowing the consequences all too well while navigating the politico-economic landscape of climate change is like reading the same book, but not all are on the same page. Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) met before the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD) in Pattaya, Thailand and took note that climate change, environmental sustainability, and planetary boundaries are crosscutting development issues that are already impacting negatively on complex global systems and therefore should be comprehensively addressed in the framework for sustainable development goals (SDGs).
The development of these renewed goals must in turn, be guided by the twin imperatives of equity and ambition in order to prevent the devastating effects of climate change.
While we welcome that one of main themes of the APFSD is ‘shared prosperity within planetary boundaries’ there remains a need to have a shared understanding of the challenges, opportunities as well as the essence of what it means to have ‘shared prosperity’ amid the tipping points of planetary limits. This vision can only be realized in the context of redistributive justice, to ensure that the people and planet benefit from genuine sustainable development.
In line with this, we reiterate the need to uphold the Rio Principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibility (CBDR), recognizing that solving the climate problem requires collective efforts and that some countries however, are more responsible than others based on historical emissions, capabilities and potential for action. Furthermore, it is important for member States in the region to take leadership in the following:
The over-fixation with economic growth has led to economic, social and ecological crises that impact most on the poor and marginalized communities in the region. Aside from exacerbating poverty and magnifying inequalities between countries, societies, and between women and men, climate change poses an existential threat to people, entire communities and countries.
As such, it becomes imperative to respond to the urgency of the situation – climate change should be a stand-alone goal and must be embedded in the principles of environmental sustainability and equity and must be entrenched throughout the SDG framework.
We know all too well that we need to change tack if we are to live up with the promise of shared prosperity. A promise to ‘leave no one behind’ AND ‘let no one get away.’
Maria Theresa Nera-Lauron is one of the co-chairs of the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE). She is also co-chair of the Working Group on CSO Development Effectiveness and, the CSO representative to the Building Block on Climate Finance (now called Busan Partnership for Climate Finance and Action). She is also the chairperson of the Asia-Pacific Research Network (APRN) and helps coordinate the Peoples’ Movement on Climate Change (PMCC) – a global network of individuals and organizations campaigning for a Peoples’ Protocol on Climate Change.