The impact of UK overseas aid on environmental protection and climate change adaptation and mitigation

Written evidence submitted by Progressio

1. Summary

Progressio welcomes the opportunity to submit evidence, testimonies and recommendations to the Environmental Audit Committee on the impact of UK overseas aid on environmental protection and climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Our key points are:

· Water scarcity affects a large proportion of the world’s population. Climate change is expected to make this worse with significant impact on people and ecosystems.

· Sustainable and equitable water resources management must be a core priority for aid policy. It should include clear poverty objectives, including a gender approach, as women are often particularly affected.

· Illegal logging contributes to environmental degradation and is a driver of climate change, has a negative effect on rights and poverty levels, undermines good governance and accountability, and encourages corruption.

· Any forestry-related initiatives including the recent EU legislation on timber prohibiting the entry of illegally obtained wood in the EU market are encouraging; but policy coherence between trade, development and environmental protection needs to be in place.

2. Introduction

2.1 Progressio is an international charity that enables poor communities to solve their own problems through support from skilled workers. We lobby decision-makers to change policies that keep people poor and work in partnership with civil society organisations in 11 countries around the world. Our work is guided by three themes: Participation and effective governance, Sustainable environment; and HIV and AIDS. Progressio is the working name of the Catholic Institute for International Relations (CIIR). Progressio has a longstanding relationship with DFID and is a current PPA holder.

2.2 Progressio aims at drawing attention to the significance of water and forestry as a way of enhancing the beneficial impacts of UK overseas aid on poor and marginalised communities in regards to environmental protection and climate change adaptation and mitigation. For this purpose, in this document, we bring examples from Progressio partners and beneficiaries on these areas.

3. Water [1]

3.1 Water is essential for both life and livelihoods, but the water system stands to be severely affected by climate change [2] . Today, one third of the world’s population face water shortages, a figure that is expected to rise to two thirds by 2025 [3] [4] . Climate change is expected to account for about 20 percent of the global increase in water scarcity this century [5] . Even with a moderate 1˚C increase in temperature it is estimated that the small glaciers in the Andes will disappear, threatening water supplies for 50 million people. With a 2˚C increase there could be a 20 to 30% decrease in water availability in some vulnerable regions [6] . Climate change is also likely to cause an increased frequency and intensity of floods and deteriorating water quality, such as salt-water intrusion [7] . In addition, ecosystems suffer wide and often irreversible changes when water is in short supply or of poor quality, conditions which may aggravate the problem by reducing the ecosystem’s ability to function as a water purifier, water storage and water generator [8] .

3.2 Only 3 per cent of the world’s water is freshwater, and more than 70 per cent of this water is used for agriculture, leading to direct linkages with food security. Water should be seen as a cross border issue affecting regional, national and international levels, which can lead to trans-border tensions and conflict. Furthermore, an increasing body of evidence is highlighting the issue of the ‘water footprint’ of products and ‘virtual water’ – which refers to the full amount of water that is needed to produce a good. In our report ‘Drop by drop’ (2010), Progressio, CEPES and Water Witness International highlight the negative impact on local communities of water usage for asparagus production in Peru, where the asparagus is primarily produced for the export market, including the UK [9] .

Gender and water

3.3. Women are commonly the family’s primary caretakers and often the first to become aware of environmental changes. As resources become scarce, their workload increases leading to problems with sustaining their families [1] . The traditional gender roles that prevail in many developing countries drives women to search for water for household needs, such as cooking, washing, hygiene and raising small livestock. In Africa, women do 90% of the work of gathering water and wood, for the household and for food preparation [2] . Children, in particular girls, often share these responsibilities. In contrast, men are primarily in charge of water for irrigation or livestock farming, but they are also the primary decision makers about water resource management and development at both the local and national level [3] .

3.4 In developing countries, women and girls spend an estimated 40 billion hours every year hauling up water. This can mean spending as much as 8 hours a day carrying up to 40kg of water on their heads or hips [4] . Girls are often given the task of collecting water, carrying 15 to 20 litres of water from the water point to their home [5] . The strain of water collection already causes ill health in women, and often their children, since mothers often take their children with them, feeling it is unsafe to leave them while they travel long distances for water [6] .

3.5 During increased water stress, women and girls may have to walk further to collect water, leaving even less time for other activities, such as gaining an education and earning an income. 41 million girls worldwide do not attend school, one of the key reasons is that they are responsible for collecting wood and water [7] . Failure to collect sufficient water, or complete other household tasks, sometimes results in verbal or physical abuse from other family members [8] . Longer walks can increase the risk of harassment or sexual assault, particularly in conflict zones. In urban areas, time commitments can increase through long hours waiting at communal water points. Furthermore, increased water stress can result in collection of water from sources that are more susceptible to pathogens and bacteria, increasing the risk of spreading of diseases, and further increasing the workload for women in caring for the sick [9] . .4 million people a year die from water-related diseases, most of whom are children, suffer debilitation from water-borne diseases [10] .

3.6 70% of farmers worldwide are women, but they often have little access to decision making structures and their needs can be different to men as they are more likely to rely on rain fed agriculture, supplemented by small-scale or hand irrigation. Legal constraints can limit women further. In most countries water allocation for agriculture is linked with land ownership, yet in many places women have little or no rights to own land [11] . Globally, women only hold title to less than 2% of private land [12] . Similarly, resources that are available may not be suitable for women. For example, water pumps can have handles that women cannot reach or manipulate or that they haven’t been trained to repair. Due to these limitations, women are often the first to be affected in times of water shortages for productive use, too. [13] [14]

Recommendations

3.7 As water resources become increasingly unreliable and scarce, sustainable and equitable water resources management must be a core priority for aid policy. Governance is key as decisions about water resources, who makes them and how they are made, are often at the core of problems around water availability and access, problems that are likely to escalate significantly under climate change [1] . In addition, Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) is a key component for building social, economic and ecological resilience to climate change, as it is designed to build resilience by balancing increasing and often competing demands for water with the need to guarantee environmental flows [2] .

3.8 It is important that these elements are guided by a sustainable and equitable approach, ensuring that they cater for those most vulnerable with clear poverty objectives, including a gender approach. This should recognise that men and women have particular needs, knowledge, interests and aspirations, and thus contribute to the management of water resources in different but equally important ways [3] . Women’s ‘hidden’ role in water management incorporates considerable knowledge about water resources, including water quality and reliability, but it is often ignored as they rarely participate in decision-making structures [4] [5] . As a result women’s adaptive capacity to climate change is likely to be reduced.

Testimony: Women protecting the páramo in Ecuador [6]

3.9 Indigenous farmer Fabiola Quishpe lives in the páramo, a sensitive area of grassland high up in the Andes, that acts like a giant sponge, soaking up water and gently releasing it into the valley below. In recent years, up to an estimated 30% of it has been destroyed, which means that water resources for agriculture and consumption, as well as a vital ecosystem, are at risk. Fabiola, along with other villagers in her community, has been working with Progressio-partner the Institute of Ecuadorian Studies (IEE). As a result, a women’s association was set up and 150 women across the region have become involved in the scheme. Already they’ve seen a significant change.

Fabiola says: "Water is a very important liquid and it is necessary for all human beings, and for all who live and exist as part of this pachamama (mother earth). […] The women are the ones who work here. The men, the husbands, they go away to work down there [in towns], they migrate, often to the coast. They come back here when we have festivities and for the harvest seasons. But the people who mainly live here are women. […] In our community we are 17 women working together to recover our native seeds and protect our water resources. We have noticed that when women work together the family benefits. [...] People don’t even think about damaging the grasslands anymore, instead, they see it as a source of water and know that it’s important for conserving water. If we don’t have water how are we going to survive?"

4 Illegal logging

The eradication of illegal logging is crucial to Progressio’s development goals because:

· Illegal logging has a negative effect on people’s rights and poverty levels, brings about environmental degradation and affects water supplies, exposing communities to environment vulnerability.

· Illegal logging erodes sovereignty and good governance, and encourages corrupt practices at all levels of the supply chain.

· Illegal logging is a strong driver of climate change, through the release into the atmosphere of billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases.

· Illegal logging has a detrimental effect on accountability and unwittingly forces consumers to purchase timber obtained from illegal sources.

· Illegal logging contributes to the loss of biodiversity and reduces the opportunities for sustainable management and good management of the world’s forests.

Forestry

4.1 In 2008, the World Bank reported that the world’s total forest area in 2010 is estimated to be just over 4 billion hectares of 31% of total land area. However, the area of forest is unevenly distributed. The five most forest-rich countries (the Russian Federation, Brazil, Canada, the United States of America and China) account for more than half of the total forest area (53%), while 64 countries with a combined population of 2 billion people have forest on no more than 10% of their land area. These include a number of fairly large countries in arid zones, as well as many small island developing states (SIDS) and dependent territories. Ten of these have no forests at all [1] .

4.2 Agriculture is the major competitor to forest areas. According to the World Bank, around 13 million hectares of forest were converted to other uses – largely agriculture – or lost through natural causes each year in the last decade. The World Bank has estimated that 90% of the 1.2 billion people in the world living in extreme poverty are affected by deforestation. Forest destruction damages food and water supplies, causes loss of bio-diversity, increases vulnerability to natural disasters, and contributes to the denial of indigenous communities’ rights.

4.3 The World Bank has outlined that the problem of sustainable forest management (SFM) is highly complex and can only be addressed by a range of actions targeted at (i) the policy framework, (ii) strengthening of governance, (iii) removal of market distortions and engaging market actors, (iv) full valuation and sharing of forest benefits through market and other mechanisms, (v) capacity building, and (vi) mobilization of adequate financial resources.

4.4 All of these elements are relevant for sustainable forest management, but it is also important to acknowledge that trade and consumption patterns may negatively impact on rights and governance issues. For example, the problem of deforestation and illegal logging, until very recently, was been perceived as a failure to manage the forestry sector. This is regardless of the fact that there is high demand for cheap wood products in the developed and developing world. Moreover, most of the efforts made by the developed countries have been avoiding putting too many constraints to market demands despite of the heavy social and environmental costs in the livelihood of poor people from developing countries.

4.5 Governments and businesses have commonly seen forests as a source of income, growth and employment. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) stated ‘the forestry sector contributes more than 10% to GDP and provides formal and informal employment in developing countries for an estimated 40 to 60 million people’ [2] . The World Bank estimates that ‘90% of people living in extreme poverty depend on forests for some part of their livelihoods’ (World Bank, 2004a).

4.6 The commoditisation of natural resources has contributed to the narrow scope of the benefits of forests in the world. The reality is that forests have always represented more than just an income or employment provider to communities living in forest areas in developing nations. For indigenous people, the forest traditionally provides them with food, medicine, and wood for housing and energy consumption. Its destruction affects their customs and traditions because it transforms the relationship they have with the forest. [3]

4.7 The detrimental effect of climate change and the impact of deforestation on poverty and livelihoods have forced us to revisit our perception and relationship with forests. This is a great achievement because grave human rights abuses against environmental activists, and community and indigenous leaders did not manage to spin this around. However, the thirst for consumption of the world’s natural resources continues but there is now more awareness about a common sense approach to natural resource management.

4.8 This newly found awareness need to be supported by policy coherence between development, trade and social policies to avoid unintended results or unwanted consequences. The purpose should be achieving sustainability, which represents a fine balance between our own preservation and the preservation of the world’s rich bio-diversity. The International Development Fund (IFAD) describes that one of the guiding principles of the ‘Sustainability Approach’ [4] is being people centred integrating a ‘holistic component within these principles".

4.9 It is important to put natural resources within a new context: the human population has roughly tripled; and new sectors such as urban development (to accommodate the growing population), the growth on livestock and large scale agriculture have become new competitors for land and space. Consequently without a pragmatic recognition that forests and other natural resources might also be finite and threatened as a result of human influence, there will be a lack of responsibility for our surroundings. The unequal distribution of food and conflict over control of the world's dwindling natural resources presents a major political and social challenge to governments, likely to reach crisis status as climate change advances and world population expands from 6.7 billion to 9.2 billion by 2050 [5] .

Recommendations

4.10 New legislative initiatives in the EU prohibiting the entry of illegally obtained wood in the EU market are encouraging; but without (a) the political willingness to enforce it (b) changing the minds and operations of the timber sector (c) consumer awareness and responsibility to their own consumption (d) new relationship between us (humans) and our natural resources, it will be very unlikely that forests will survive for long. This policy coherence between trade, development and environmental protection needs to be in place before forests disappear forever.

Testimonies from community leaders in Honduras

4.11 David Amador, from the ‘La Libertad’ community in Honduras [1]

"Illegal logging here is unmerciful. Illegal loggers take the wood away with no permits, leaving our area deserted, deforested. 100,000 feet of wood are taken every year in our community and in the ‘El Diamante’ community, located next to ours. This is especially grave as water sources are in ‘El Diamante’. Illegal logging has an impact on water and air. Fires are heavier because illegal loggers leave branches and wood behind, which along with the heat, means the likelihood of fires will increase. In the summer (dry) season, the rivers’ water levels lower; as a result, we do not get enough water in the winter (rainy) season. Water sources are suffering."

"The message I would send to the European Parliament is that if wood continues to be taken, this area will end up being a desert. Europeans should be aware of what’s happening in here, in the community and stop buying illegal timber. It is ok that they buy good quality timber but always timber that is legal."

4.12 Javier Rosales, president of the Paya river agroforestry cooperative – Paya community, Sico Valley, Honduras [2]

"As a community, we strive to stop illegal logging. For forests are a heritage we all in the community share. We protect forests not only because of the timber, but because we need to preserve our water sources. If we do not prevent the destruction of the forests we will end up with no water. Since we have a forest management plan in our community, the situation has improved. Thanks to the income from the cooperative, we own two cows and a few chickens, which help us to alleviate poverty."

-. Ends. -


[1] This is an edited extract from Progressio’s contribution to Women’s Environmental Network (2010) Gender and the Climate Change Agenda

[2] See for example Bates, B., Kundzewicz, Z., Wu, S., Palutikof, J. (eds.) (2008) Climate Change and Water. Technical Paper of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change . Geneva : IPCC

[3] UN Water and FAO (2007) Coping with water scarcity: Challenge of the twenty-first century, http://www.fao.org/nr/water/docs/escarcity.pdf (accessed 31 July 09)

[4] UN-FAO (2007) Press release: Making Every Drop Count. Rome : FAO. February 14, 2007

[5] UN Water and FAO (2007) Coping with water scarcity: Challenge of the twenty-first century, http://www.fao.org/nr/water/docs/escarcity.pdf (accessed 31 July 09)

[6] Stern, N. (2006) Stern Review: The Economics of Climate Change . London : HM Treasury

[7] Reid, H., Simms, A., Johnson, V. (2007) Up in smoke? Asia and the Pacific. The threat of climate change to human development and the environment . London : New Economics Foundation

[8] Cap-Net, GWA and UNDP (2006) Why Gender Matters. A tutorial for water managers , Cap-Net and GWA

[9] Progressio, CEPES, Water Witness International (2010) Drop by drop: Understanding the impacts of the UK 's water footprint through a case study of Peruvian asparagus , London : Progressio

[1] BRIDGE (2008) Gender and climate change: mapping the linkages, Institute of Development Studies , University of Sussex , Brighton

[2] Hemmati, M., Gardiner, R. (2002) Gender and Sustainable Development, Heinrich Böll Foundation

[3] BRIDGE (2008) Gender and climate change: mapping the linkages. Brighton: Institute of Development Studies

[4] Cap-Net, GWA and UNDP (2006) Why Gender Matters. A tutorial for water managers , Cap-Net and GWA

[5] Interagency Task Force on Gender and Water (2004) A Gender Perspective on Water Resources and Sanitation . Commission on Sustainable Development, 2004 . United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs

[6] Reid, H., Simms, A., Johnson, V. (2007) Up in smoke? Asia and the Pacific. The threat of climate change to human development and the environment . London : New Economics Foundation

[7] UNDP (2009 ) Resource Guide on Gender and Climate Change

[8] Centre for Global Change in Reid, H., Simms, A., Johnson, V. (2007) Up in smoke? Asia and the Pacific. The threat of climate change to human development and the environment . London : New Economics Foundation

[9] Thaxton, M. (2004) Gender Makes the Difference: Water, IUCN

[10] Cap-Net, GWA and UNDP (2006) Why Gender Matters. A tutorial for water managers , Cap-Net and GWA

[11] Cap-Net, GWA and UNDP (2006) Why Gender Matters. A tutorial for water managers , Cap-Net and GWA

[12] Interagency Task Force on Gender and Water (2004) A Gender Perspective on Water Resources and Sanitation . Commission on Sustainable Development, 2004 . United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs

[13] Cap-Net, GWA and UNDP (2006) Why Gender Matters. A tutorial for water managers , Cap-Net and GWA

[14] Thaxton, M. (2004) Gender Makes the Difference: Water, IUCN

[1] See for example recommendations for DFID in Mayers, J et al (2009) Water ecosystem services and poverty under climate change: Key issuesand research priorities, London : IIED

[2] Water and Climate Coalition (2010) Water and Climate Roadmap

[3] Siles J (2004) Gender Makes the Difference: Watershed Management, IUCN

[4] Hemmati M and Gardiner R (2002) Gender and Sustainable Development, Heinrich Böll Foundation

[5] Thaxton M (2004) Gender Makes the Difference: Water. IUCN

[6] Interview by Brie O’Keefe and Jo Barrett, Progressio, 2009

[1] 2008 “Practical Guidance for Sustaining Forests in Developing Cooperation” World Bank (ISBN: 978-0-8213-7163-3)
http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTARD/EXTFORESTS/EXTFORSOUBOOK/
0,,menuPK:3745501~pagePK:64168427~piPK:64168435~theSitePK:3745443,00.html

[2] 2009 – “Natural Resources and Pro-poor Growth: The Economics and Politics – A good practice paper” DAC Guidelines and Reference Series OECD (Revised Version)

[3] 2010 – Forest and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Global Forest Resources Assessment 2010 No.163 Main Report

[4] IFAD: The Sustainable Livelihoods Approach: http://www.ifad.org/sla/index.htm

[5] http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/apr/16/food.biofuels?intcmp=239

[1] Interview by Keith Ewing, Progressio, 2010

[2] Interview by Lizzette Robleto, Progressio, 2010

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[2] 25 January 2011

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