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Social protection and climate change: Greener economies and just societies

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James Canonge

Around the globe, climate change is affecting people’s lives.  Higher temperatures, droughts, flooding, sea level rise and other extreme weather events pose significant challenges to individual livelihoods and national economies.  Whether recurrent or isolated, the need to protect people from the effects of climate change is of primary concern for many policymakers, as is tackling its root causes.

 

A "just transition"

Efforts to fight climate change, in particular those to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, can create new “green” sectors of the economy.  But individuals whose livelihoods are tied to less environmentally-friendly practices will require assistance as countries make the difficult choices to phase out certain industries. 

Measures to re-skill workers and protect those who lose their jobs and livelihood opportunities will be necessary to ensure a just transition toward greener economies and societies.

 

Protection against the worst impacts

At the same time, social protection is also powerful tool to protect populations at greater risk of climate-related hardship.  Well-designed social protection systems can quickly deleiver relief in the wake of extreme weather events, including storms, droughts and floods, which are on the rise globally.   

Ensuring that these are covered by social protection is important to offset losses in income or assets that could threaten their livelihoods and wider economic activity.

 


 

Through a partnership between the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the International Labour Office (ILO), a series of case studies has been developed based upon real country experiences to document the link between climate change and social protection based on the dual aims of protecting people from adverse environmental effects and protecting the environment from the increasing pressures of human activity.