View of an archipipelago in the Artic Ocean View of an archipipelago in the Artic Ocean

Disasters, Resilience and Land Management

Cities and local action

A primary premise of the Paris Agreement is consensus on the need to strengthen the resilience to climate impacts, focusing on the poorest and most vulnerable.

A primary premise of the Paris Agreement is consensus on the need to strengthen the resilience to climate impacts, focusing on the poorest and most vulnerable. Poorer communities, particularly rural areas in developing countries, are less equipped to deal with increasing natural disasters; livelihoods are lost in already fragile economies, forcing people to leave their homes and, at times, sparking conflict over land and food sources. The UN is helping to enhance climate-resistance in vulnerable communities, through the introduction of improved farming techniques, development projects and better land management and development projects, all with an emphasis on strengthening resilience and adaptive capacities.

Somalia, where 70 per cent of the population is dependent on climate-sensitive agriculture and pastoralism for their livelihoods, is one such country where the UN and partners are implementing programmes to counter the increasing desertification impacting the nation. For conflict-prone Somalia, the scarcity of natural resources, mainly water, presents great challenges, making Somalis even more vulnerable to climate change. Innovation initiatives such as integrative farming training and the construction of dams and pools called ‘berkeds’ have helped to preserve livelihoods. Tapping into solar power has provided an affordable and reliable option for electricity for community hospitals and schools and enhanced preparedness for future emergencies.

One of the most comprehensive drought initiatives, as referenced in the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) 2018-2030 Strategic Framework, links environment and development to sustainable land management. It commits to restoring drought-affected land and improving the livelihoods of 1.3 million people. UNCCD collaborates with global partners to support expansive projects such as the Great Green Wall, which will revive land in the Sahel region of Africa alleviating such threats as climate change, drought, famine, conflict and migration, and increase food security and jobs. Once completed, the Great Green Wall expects to be the largest living structure on the planet, three times the size of the Great Barrier Reef.

Smaller initiatives undertaken in countries where flooding is escalating as a result of climate-change are no less effective and life-sustaining for the communities in which they are implemented. In Bangladesh, a nation particularly vulnerable to climate-change, deadly landslides have claimed the lives and livelihoods of many. UN Women came to the aid of local residents through the support of a programme that provided financial assistance to women as well as training in sustainable agriculture and livestock management. Likewise, in disaster-prone Viet Nam, where data indicate that an average of 400 lives are lost annually due to climate disasters, an established programme is helping to reduce fatalities by teaching residents advance preparations and long-term planning to reduce crop failure. While such programmes aim to build resilience to climate change-induced disasters, the impact is far-reaching, including helping to maintain stability in areas where lack of natural resources and resulting displacement can result in further instability and conflict. 

After decades of poverty and underdevelopment, both countries are steadily rising up the socio-economic ladder, so it is critical to ensure climate change considerations are mainstreamed into development to prevent them from losing economic gains. The UN is supporting this goal in both Bangladesh and Viet Nam working with the Governments, at the national and local levels. 

Once a seasonal occurrence, wildfires are increasing in frequency and size due to global warming with devastating effects resulting in loss of life, property, livelihoods, and biodiversity. Exacerbating the situation is that wildfires add greenhouse gases to the environment and destroy the trees that absorb carbon dioxide. More than ever, wildfire management is a critical tool in reducing the death and destruction of precious resources. Although covering a small amount of territory, South Africa’s Fynbos Biome contains nearly one fifth of all know African flowering plants and is dubbed as “global biodiversity hotspot.” The UNDP-supported "Fynbos Fire Project", with funding from the Global Environment Facility, is working to change the way wildfires are managed and to implement strategies to better cope with increasing wildfire risks and damages due to climate change.

The International Fund for Agriculture (IFAD) promotes better land management and farming practices to help reduce environmental degradation and lower greenhouse emissions. Proper farming methods can help to increase crop tolerance and reduce further environmental destruction.

IFAD maintains that smallholder farmers have a key role in fighting global warming through agricultural transformation. A number of initiatives, including the reduction of deforestation, which is frequently undertaken to make way for commercial agriculture, and reducing post-harvest losses, are a few interventions that IFAD has helped smallholder farmers to implement. As an International Financial Institution, IFAD helps mobilize funding for innovative projects that governments may not be able or willing to undertake alone, and to access expertise and new methods on better utilization of land and other natural resources. Partnering with the Global Environmental Fund, IFAD has helped to mobilize funding in 24 countries for projects that focus on climate change.