- Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
- Stakeholder type: Major Group
- Submission Document: Download
- Additional Document:
The world population reached 7 billion this year and forty-three percent of those 7 billion are under the age of 25. Today?s generation of young people is the largest in history and as a result they have a critical role to play in adapting to climate change, helping mitigate the impact, and engaging governments, the private sector, civil society, and other stakeholders to set targets for a sustainable future.
Climate change has a disproportionate impact on women, particularly young women. In low and middle income countries, adolescent girls and women account for more than half the agricultural labor force and are also the primary stewards for collecting water and fuel. This heavy involvement in resource management greatly increases the risks for women and girls when their environmental stability is threatened. For example, women must walk farther to collect water, work harder to produce crops from dry soil, and cope with various natural disasters such as drought and flooding in addition to disease. Access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) education, information and services is an effective mechanism to mitigate the impacts of climate change in the context of ensuring sustainable development.
Worldwide there are about 215 million women with an unmet need for contraception. In some areas, young women between the ages of 15 and 19 are twice as unlikely to have access to contraception. Lack of access to family planning and reproductive health services and information can have severe negative outcomes. Annually, there are about 53 million unintended pregnancies and for young women aged 15 to 19, pregnancy is the leading cause of death with complications of childbirth and unsafe abortion being the major factors. When women and young girls are empowered to manage the timing of their childbearing, they will be able to invest in more resources and in their children. As such, investing in young people and their reproductive health and gender equality can help put countries on a path to accelerated economic growth and equitable development.
Using recent data on emission, program effectiveness, and program costs, climate change economists found that responding to the unmet need for family planning and supporting girls? education was much less costly than low-carbon energy development options, including solar, wind, and nuclear power, second-generation biofuels, and carbon capture and storage. Family planning and girls? education programs were found to be cost-competitive with forest conservation and other improvements in forestry an agricultural practices. In addition, empowering women would reduce carbon emission significantly, providing eight to fifteen percent of the reductions needed to avert climate change. Furthermore, for every $1 (USD) spent on international family planning efforts, governments save up to $31 in health care, water, education, housing and other costs because women who are in good health are better able to get the education and resources they need to provide for themselves and their families.
Meeting the SRHR needs of young people around the world can contribute to comprehensive strategies to combat the effects of climate change as well as ensure sustainable development for a greener future.
As such, we strongly recommend the following:
? Make sexual and reproductive health and rights, particularly among youth, a sectoral priority to renew commitments from governments, the private sector, and civil societies.
? Invest in rights and evidence-based comprehensive sexuality education and youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services to support young people?s ability to make informed responsible decisions about their sexual and reproductive health.
? Challenge the global architecture of climate change, and its technology focus, and shift the discussion to a more human rights-based adaptation approach. Such a strategy would better serve the range of issues pivotal to improving the health of women worldwide and thus helping lead to a sustainable future.
? Ensure meaningful youth participation in the planning, design, and implementation of program and policies, especially those relevant to SRHR, climate change, and sustainable development.
The following organizations, in partnership with Advocates for Youth, support this document:
Abibimman Foundation, Ghana
Animal Concerns and Awareness Club, Philippines
Brotherhood of Destiny, Inc., Philippines
Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network
Noble Missions for Change Initiative (NMI), Nigeria
Youth Against Debt Eastern Visayas, Philippines