Minister for International Development Heidi Hautala gave a speech in TERI Seminar ”Changing climate – Is resource efficiency a way out of crisis?” in Joensuu, University of Eastern Finland, on 12 August 2013.[:]
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Minister Heidi Hautala: Resource efficiency and its potential impact on development and conflicts
Doctor Pachauri, Professor Tahvanainen, colleagues, friends
Although global population growth is slowing, it is still projected to reach 8 billion by 2030, over 9 billion by 2050 and possibly over 10 billion by 2100. By 2030 a further 3 billion people will rise from subsistence to consumer economies. This means major changes in consumption patterns for those households. While we of course welcome this rising well-being, we are also now already over-consuming global resources nearly twice as fast as they can be renewed.
The environmental consequences of megatrends such as population growth, a demographic transition coupled with youth unemployment and urbanization coupled with increasing coastal populations are immense. Poor living conditions can lead to migration both within states and beyond their borders, causing further destabilization. A changing climate means an increase in threats to security, at the national, regional and global scales. An increase in global mean temperature means droughts, melting glaciers, floods, super-storms, rising sea levels and lack of fresh water. Increasing competition over natural resources and climate change bring additional challenges, especially for developing countries. The situation is most acute in least developed countries and in fragile states that suffer from conflicts and environmental degradation.
Global emissions from greenhouse gases continue to grow, be it in the energy and manufacturing sectors, or the land use and forestry sectors. Changing land use patterns can of course also mean loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services, caused by unsustainable use of natural resources. In addition, we must contend with increased risks from chemicals and wastes. You don´t need to be an economist or ecologist to understand that to keep within our planetary boundaries, a drastic change to our patterns of production and consumption needs to be made, and it is for us to choose whether it is a painful or a managed change.
Resource Efficiency and development
Resource efficiency in the context of development must be seen through the prism of an inclusive green economy that promotes employment. Economic growth should generate equal human development within nature’s carrying capacity. Finland’s Development Policy Programme also highlights the need for sustainable management of natural resources and environmental protection. This will ensure that revenues collected from those resources benefit the country of origin and are dispersed equitably throughout the population. Water, energy and land form a nexus that needs to be properly managed to ensure that the poor are not the frequent losers in a resource constrained world. On the other hand a majority of the world’s poorest people live in countries with abundant natural resources and should therefore be in a good position to promote their own development by means of a green economy and sustainable use of natural resources.
In the water-energy-land nexus one has to immediately evoke the widespread links water and forests have with development, poverty reduction and security. Development cannot be achieved without the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation, and accordingly the guiding principle of Finland’s development cooperation is water security, which seeks to reduce risks relating to the health and well-being of individuals, communities as well as states. Finland’s aid instruments are selected in a given country or region to support the implementation of the principle of Integrated Water Resources Management principle at the local, national and regional level. Balanced and integrated management of water resources is a prerequisite for ensuring the various needs for the use and protection of waters as well as human well-being. In addition, the equitable management of water resources prevents conflicts both between and within countries.
On the other hand, the role of forests as a source of food security and livelihood as well as carbon sinks to combat climate change is indisputable. Forests sustain biodiversity and the productivity of land and assist in combating desertification. Forests strengthen the viability of arid areas and the food security of peoples dependent on those areas. Community forestry is an important way to achieve sustainability and a more equitable distribution of benefits and better livelihoods.
In this context I’m happy to announce the launch this week of Finland’s new development policy guidelines for the forest sector that highlight more than before good and democratic governance of forests and equal distribution of benefits. All our development policy is human rights-based. The Guidelines address six themes, including forest rights, forests as sources of energy, sustainable production and climate change mitigation. In the forest and energy context, for example, the global reality is that 2,6 billion people depend on biomass, principally fuel wood, for their energy needs. The problem of course is unsustainable harvesting and inefficient use. This leads to forest destruction and health problems. Also here it’s important to move towards a green inclusive economy, which means more efficient and sustainable uses of resources. To promote this Finland supports more efficient cook stoves, for example. Finland also shares its know-how in efficient use of wood, utilizing waste wood and integrating it into energy production. Finland also supports the global REDD+ programme, which provides a means for creating economic incentives to prevent deforestation and forest degradation, and the EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Programme.
In the energy sector, access to sustainable energy can be increased by promoting energy efficiency and the widespread use of renewable energy sources. Solutions lie in addressing not only demand, but also increasing the quantity and quality of renewable energy supply. Good governance in the energy sector is also essential. In energy investments and other infrastructure projects social impacts need to be assessed: negative impacts must be minimised in both planning and implementation, and assessments must be truly participatory.
Returning to the land sector, patterns of food production and consumption need to be reformed: although food production itself outstrips demand, 870 million people globally remain undernourished. Promotion of global food security requires a wide range of cooperation between different actors as well as coherence between development, agriculture, fisheries, trade, energy, health, and environmental natural resource policies. We are nationally piloting on practical coherence work especially on food security. Doubling the productivity of smallholder farmers who grow the bulk of food in the developing world, and making food systems resilient in the face of environmental and economic shocks is paramount. In the agriculture sector efficiency can also be increased through technology transfer and innovations and partnerships.
The hunger gap can further be closed by minimizing today’s food system’s loss and waste: currently at least one third of all food produced fails to make it from farm to table. In developing countries, pests, inadequate storage facilities and inefficient supply chains contribute to a great part of food loss. Developing infrastructure and technology can reduce the amount of food that perishes. Increasing overall agricultural productivity in an ecologically and socially sustainable manner throughout the food value chain promotes economic growth also in other sectors of society.
The importance of accountability, openness and transparency of enterprises operating in the natural resource sector can also not be stressed enough. In this context Finland supports the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and will be a member of its Board in 2014-2015. We support the additional transparency of the initiative with the view to permits, contracts, licenses as well as with appropriate linkages to national public financial management. Reporting with more current data and on a project-by-project and company-by-company-basis is most welcome, as it has the potential to prevent tax avoidance and transfer mispricing, which is a globally relevant development issue.
Resource Efficiency and conflicts
The megatrends I identified at the beginning have the potential to increase competition for natural resources and land. At their worst, environmental degradation, land ownership and disputes over the use of natural resources can cause violent conflicts. On the other hand the social, political and security aspects of climate change are extremely complex. There is very little empirical analysis on this issue, and causality is difficult to illustrate.
In any case, although climate change affects human security first, in the longer term it can also affect national security. We can’t exclude the possibility of conflict within states or between states as a result of climate change, even though climate change is not so much a direct security risk as an amplifier of existing risks. In the short and medium term extreme weather events, including the increase or intensification of droughts and floods, can push states or communities to collapse, or at the very least destabilize them. Even in the next decades the risk of climate change-induced destabilization through modified ecosystems and failing states is there, especially in countries with limited capacity to adapt to climate change. These are frequently the least developed countries and fragile states.
There are nearly fifty states in the world that are classified as fragile states. More than 1.5 billion people live in countries that suffer from violent conflicts or constant political and criminal violence, which causes immense human suffering, distress and insecurity. At least 40% of internal conflicts over the past 60 years have had a link to natural resources. Since 1990 there have been at least 18 violent conflicts fuelled by the exploitation of natural resources. At the same time, development is curtailed.
Conflicts are bred especially by illicit trafficking in natural resources, title to valuable and scarce natural resources, soil degradation, and climate change. Indeed, natural resources often play a role in fuelling conflicts, undermining peace-building efforts and, if they are not properly managed, can contribute to a relapse in conflict.
Natural resources can, however, be a means to social stability and do not, of course, automatically translate to a resource curse. The transparent and fair management of natural resources increases social stability and plays an important role in conflict prevention and resolution. Shared natural resources as well as joint agreements and institutions related to their use can build confidence between countries and communities. Sustainable and low-carbon urban development that takes into account surrounding rural areas supports the sustainable use of natural resources. In this context the importance of the community is paramount, and grass roots level solutions promoted through civil society organizations, for example, should be promoted. Openness, the right to information and access to decision-making are fundamental principles of the rule of law and good governance. This applies equally to the right to information about the environment, including state and trends, as well as the right to participate in environmental decision-making.
Going back to the water sector, Finland is active in supporting regions and countries with development cooperation to promote transboundary water conventions to enable water security and avoid conflicts over water resources. Successful interventions include in Ethiopia and the Nile region, Central Asia, the Mekong Delta and Palestine. Finnish aid resources prevent conflicts by securing land tenure for subsistence farmers and providing them with knowledge in agriculture and forestry to enable them to cultivate land in a sustainable manner with water-efficient high value crops. Farmers working on their land mean less evaporation, less land degradation, less siltation, less sedimentation in dams and reservoirs and more agricultural products on local and regional trade markets. This resource efficient agriculture not only provides livelihoods, but also stabilizes geopolitical relations between countries.
Still in the water sector, just last month the European Union Foreign Affairs Council approved Conclusions on EU Water Diplomacy, strongly supported by Finland. The Council highlighted that during the next decade, tensions and conflicts over access to water are likely to become more frequent and could endanger stability and security in many parts of the world. A concrete objective of EU water diplomacy is to proactively engage in trans-boundary water security challenges with the aim of promoting collaborative and sustainable water management arrangements. This is very much in line with Finland’s support highlighted earlier
It is also crucial to involve women in conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peace-building. This is especially important from a natural resource management perspective as women are often responsible for subsistence agriculture in developing countries. For example in Africa, FAO estimates that 60 to 80 per cent of food is produced by women. Women are responsible also for fetching water and fuel wood for household consumption – women see the rivers, lakes and forests every day, and have knowledge and skills related to the management and use of renewable natural resources that are critical to livelihoods and to adapting to a changing environment. We encourage the identification of synergetic solutions, and conservation of biodiversity and adapting to climate change should be seen as mutually reinforcing, and should be taken into consideration when formulating policies and strategies.
The building of resilience and ensuring that all sustainable development becomes risk and climate proof have to be placed at the centre of development processes. Disaster Risk Reduction and resilience should also be highlighted in the post-2015 development framework. There is clear evidence that the effects of environmental change are felt primarily in the developing world, with migrants moving either internally or to countries in the same region. In this context lessons can be harnessed from the Environment and Security Initiative, which Finland has supported. Activities of the Initiative include increasing resilience to climate change, improving the safety of dams affecting supply and quality for river basin communities and beyond, promoting alternative energy solutions, and establishing forest conservation areas.
I’ve mentioned a few times Finland’s Development Policy Programme, which I’d invite you to look at. Two of its four priorities relate to an inclusive green economy that promotes employment and to the sustainable management of natural resources and environmental protection. The policy document also highlights some of the responses Finland has identified to address resource efficiency and combat climate change. From a donor perspective, resource efficiency of course also ties in with the effective use of donor resources, and aid effectiveness more generally.
Finland has also prepared a National Programme on Sustainable Consumption and Production, one of the first of its kind in the world, and has taken an active role in the preparation of an international framework programme on sustainable consumption and production. Against this backdrop, it is important to promote corporate responsibility and international regulation to embed human rights in global product chains, as well as to ease stress on the environment.
Finland is also in the process of revising its 2006 National Strategy for Sustainable Development. Along with the revision of the strategy, a national concept of ‘Society’s Commitment to Sustainability’ will be launched. Through the commitment, the government and the administration pledge to promote sustainable development in all their work and operations.
A few weeks ago the Finnish Foreign Service approved its new UN Strategy. Its guiding principles are peace and security, human rights and development. The Strategy identifies sustainable development as our greatest shared challenge. It’s four priority themes are all closely related to our discussions here today: conflict prevention and resolution; promoting gender equality; supporting democratic institutions and the rule of law; and eradicating extreme poverty, reducing inequality and promoting environmental sustainability.
As I already mentioned earlier, this week Finland will be launching its new development policy guidelines for the forest sector.
State-building requires long-term vision and commitment. A new approach to the development of fragile states was agreed at the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness held in Busan. In this context Finland is updating its own guidance on engaging with fragile states, and aims to complete this work by the end of this year.
Climate change already constrains the viability of many communities and threatens livelihoods. As the competition for natural resources accelerates with population increase, the needs of local communities and the principles of sustainable development must remain as points of departure for the use of natural resources. Also, special emphasis must be paid to the rights of women in this context.
Addressing this multidimensional prism of issues presents a unique challenge. However, it also presents unique opportunities. The multi-sectoral nature of climate change means that there are several ways to mitigate climate change and of adapting to climate change. In this context I welcome the forthcoming fifth assessment report of the IPCC, starting with the Working Group 1 report next month. I truly hope this new report will finally awaken the world to act against climate change.