SDG 13: Climate Action

SDG 13 calls for urgent action not only to combat climate change and its impacts, but also to build resilience in responding to climate-related hazards and natural disasters.
Climate change is now affecting every country on every continent. It is disrupting national economies and affecting lives, costing people, communities and countries dearly today and even more tomorrow.

Affordable, scalable solutions are now available to enable countries to leapfrog to cleaner, more resilient economies. The pace of change is quickening as more people are turning to renewable energy and a range of other measures that will reduce emissions and increase adaptation efforts.

Climate change, however, is a global challenge that does not respect national borders. It is an issue that requires solutions that need to be coordinated at the international level to help developing countries move toward a low-carbon economy.

To strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change, countries adopted the Paris Agreement at the COP21 in Paris, which went into force in November of 2016. In the agreement, all countries agreed to work to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees centigrade. As of April 2018, 175 parties had ratified the Paris Agreement and 10 developing countries had submitted their first iteration of their national adaptation plans for responding to climate change.

Global temperature

Carbon emissions have been steadily rising over the past decades, leading to increases in global temperatures. The period from 2011 to 2015 was the hottest on record, with sea ice reaching its lowest level in history and coral bleaching – resulting from increased sea surface temperatures – threatening the world’s coral reefs.

The landmark Paris Agreement, signed in April 2016 by 175 Member States, attempts to mitigate climate change and accelerate and intensify actions and investments needed for a sustainable, low-carbon future. Central to the agreement is the need to strengthen the global response to keep global temperatures from rising no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue further efforts to limit the rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The Paris Agreement requires parties to identify their “intended nationally determined contributions” (INDCs). Progress on the Paris Agreement will be tracked every five years through a global stocktaking exercise.

Adaptation component

As of 4 April 2016, 189 of the 197 Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change had submitted 161 INDCs (the European Commission submitted one joint INDC). Of these, 137 included an adaptation component. They realized the urgent necessity to adapt to climate change, and are thus starting to design and implement adaptation initiatives of various types, scales, and coverage.

These initiatives seek to manage anticipated climate change risks at the national, sub-national, local/community levels. Some focus on developing system-wide local capacities aimed at analyzing, planning, and implementing a range of priority actions that strengthen the resilience of key stakeholders and institutions against anticipated climate change risks

Some countries stressed that adaptation was their main priority, since they see the potential impacts of climate change as strongly linked to national development, sustainability and security. Parties referred to virtually every sector and area of the economy in the adaptation component of their INDCs.

The top three priority areas were water, agriculture and health, which coincide with the top climate hazards that Parties identified – floods, drought and higher temperatures. Many parties also referred to vector- or water-borne diseases as a hazard that will require adaptation.

What does this mean and what does this look like?

In June a report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) focused on the Near East and North Africa region. Even though drought is a familiar phenomenon in the region, over the past four decades, droughts have become more widespread, prolonged and frequent – likely due to climate change. The region is not only highly prone to drought, but also one of the world’s most water-scarce areas, with desert making up three quarters of its territory.

Yemen is one of the poorest countries in terms of water resources. Agriculture is the largest sector of the economy which means that water is an important factor in life in general.

Recently, Yemen suffered from increased drought frequency, increased temperatures, and changes in precipitation patterns leading to degradation of agricultural lands, soils and terraces. And Yemen is also home to coffee plants and the dry weather actually contributes to its sweet taste.

All this surrounded by a civil war that started in 2015. As in so many other cases, no single country, and to this extent, no single person, can be judged by only a handful of factors, the whole picture is much more complex.

Coffee Trails in Yemen

The story of a journey around coffee and the port of Mocha

“Coffee is about what you build together. It’s about journeys, it’s a miraculous adventure. It crosses cultures, boundaries, and messy politics to go from the producer’s hands all the way to us. And in this cup, it brings everyone together. “

Mokhtar Al-Khanshali, Founder of Port of Mokha