Posts Tagged ‘environment’

Does the Pope like the SDGs? Considering the 2030 Agenda through the lens of Laudato Si’

February 5, 2018

Photo 1 - Graham Gordon is Head of Policy at CAFODGraham Gordon, CAFOD’s Head of Policy, introduces a paper which explores the relationship between the Sustainable Development Goals and Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment and development, Laudato Si’

Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is the result of many years of collective thinking across the international community about what international development looks like and how it should be ‘done’. It is an ambitious Agenda with an aspirational preamble and declaration, as well as 17 specific Goals (the Sustainable Development Goals or ‘SDGs’) and 169 targets.

In many ways, the SDGs offer a new way of approaching international development. They emphasise the importance of tackling inequality, of integrating environment and development and of deepening citizen participation. Most fundamentally, they state a clear commitment “to leave no-one behind”.

The SDGs demand that no-one be left behind

The SDGs demand that no-one be left behind

However, we need to address the way the SDGs are being implemented and some of the assumptions underlying the Goals if the 2030 Agenda is going to achieve the ambitious change it targets.

In a new discussion paper, we at CAFOD with a group of friends at other Catholic development organisations have taken inspiration from Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si‘ – On Care for our Common Home and suggest that we can address these challenges by Engaging in the 2030 Agenda through the Lens of Laudato Si’.


Localization, Inclusion and Integrated Approach on Disaster Risk Reduction

June 23, 2017

Written by Nanette Salvador-Antequisa

Nanette is the Executive Director of EcoWEB, a non-governmental organisation based in the Philippines. Here she comments on discussions and lessons learned from the Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction (GPDRR) held in Cancun on 24-26 May.


CAFOD’s hopes for COP21

December 2, 2015

After much anticipation the Paris climate negotiations, or COP21, are finally upon us. It is no exaggeration to say that governments, businlogo-cop21-webesses, charities and faith communities have been working towards this point for years. Failure to secure a meaningful agreement on climate change in Copenhagen in 2009 made many decide to work differently, building political will from the ground up.

Much good work on communicating the urgency of the climate challenge has already been done, from Ban Ki-Moon’s Climate Summit in New York in September 2014 to Pope Francis Encyclical, Laudato Si’. This process will reach its zenith over the next two weeks in Paris. CAFOD, together with sister Catholic development agencies, is now attending the negotiations in Paris to represent the experience of our partners on the ground, advocating for a deal that protects the world’s most vulnerable people. Paris needs to demonstrate the international community working together at its best, delivering a binding agreement which can be assessed and strengthened every few years and ultimately delivers a shift away from fossil fuels to sustainable energy that protects the planet and provides energy for everyone, including the poorest.


What makes a green economy a fair one too?

April 25, 2014

Guest blog post by Kate Raworth


Kate Raworth is a Visiting Fellow in Economics at IIED. Her research focuses on rethinking economics in the faces of extreme social inequalities and planetary boundaries. She blogs at and tweets @KateRaworth

Ask any country’s leaders about their nation’s strategy for the next decade, and chances are, its colour will be green. ‘Green economy’ and ‘green growth’ policies are moving to centre stage in a surprising number of countries, including many low- and middle-income ones. From Vietnam and Barbados to Ethiopia and Mozambique, there’s a new focus on combining environmental sustainability with economic growth – particularly by cutting or curbing greenhouse gas emissions, while ensuring a rising GDP.

For the sake of ecological integrity, that’s good news – but what about social justice? Green policies to transform key sectors – ranging from energy and transport to infrastructure and agriculture – bring many implications for women and men in vulnerable and low-income communities. And it would be dangerous to assume that they will automatically bring benefits. Indeed, without care, green policies could well do the opposite. (more…)

COMPASS 2015: a faith perspective

March 12, 2014

CAFOD’s participatory research project, COMPASS 2015, engages with the perspectives of poor and marginalised people and communities as a resource for formulating development policy after the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire in 2015. The research involved 1,420 participants from 56 different communities in four countries – Philippines, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Bolivia – and guides CAFOD’s policy priorities in the global debate.

But what does this mean from a Catholic perspective?


Designing models to deliver energy services for people living in poverty

September 16, 2013

Collecting water from the solar based purification system supplied by CAFOD, Chila Union, Mongla District, Bangladesh, 2012

As trailed in my previous blog on what COMPASS says about climate change impacts on our partners, we are today launching a paper outlining an approach to designing energy delivery models that work for people living in poverty.

See also today’s The Guardian’s Poverty Matters blog.

This paper is the first output of an ongoing collaboration between IIED and CAFOD that aims to understand better how energy services can be designed to work for people living in poverty so as to maximise their development benefits and ensure they operate sustainably over the long term.

To reiterate, the big picture here is that 1.3 billion people still have no electricity and 2.7 billion cook over open fires – including many of the communities CAFOD works with.  Increasing access to modern, safe, sustainable and affordable energy is a hot topic in the post-MDGs debate. This is a potential “win-win” for poor people and tree huggers, since to reach universal access, 55% of new electricity must come from decentralized sources – 90% of them renewable.

The CAFOD and IIED approach starts from the insight that people’s energy needs must be understood holistically, in relation to their broader development needs, and services must be tailored to their specific local context. It aims, firstly, build a holistic understanding of people’s energy needs and wants and the interests of other stakeholders and then to analyse the local context in which a service will operate. Socio-cultural factors, as well as the formal enabling environment, are a crucial to the success of any ‘energy delivery model’.

Where does the COMPASS point on climate change and poverty reduction?

August 23, 2013

Woman farmer in Bolivia

The environment has changed. Now stronger rains come, the land collapses, and just stones are left behind. It is now three years that we have had this bad weather. Before there were just showers and the rain did not destroy the crops. Now it comes with hailstones and it takes the land away. It brings all kinds of diseases for the plants and does not let them produce well. There are more thunderstorms now and that kills sheep, men… before, this was not happening’ (Source: Artisan workshops, Yamparáez, Bolivia, COMPASS).


 COMPASS puts a human face on the intensifying costs of climate change and environmental degradation. The participants’ experience reinforces the view that climate change is a ‘threat multiplier’ amplifying existing stresses, and offers important insights for would-be planners of “climate smart” development paths.

Its – depressing – key finding is that for most of the 1,420 people taking part, things have got worse in the last 15 years.  This is down to a combination of different factors, but among the most significant are resource stress, natural disasters and conflicts.

Changing climatic conditions and weather impacts – such as the increased droughts and flooding described by people in Bolivia, Uganda and the Philippines – often play their part. Communities in Kormatan, Philippines give us a glimpse into how conflict and environmental degradation can be mutually reinforcing. Farmers with livelihoods impacted by disputes between armed groups turned to illegal logging – which leads to further environmental stress. 


 ‘We make some progress but then, every 10 years, something happens that brings us back to where we were or worse than before. All the work done, the efforts and sacrifices are lost. This could be due to violent conflict or a severe drought.’ (Vicar General, Diocese of Soroti, Uganda).


Communities also describe the devastating and long-lasting impacts of conflict and natural disasters, resulting in emotional and cultural as well as material loss. This echoes the experience of poor people globally, who are bearing the brunt of global warming caused by the rich world.  In fact, climate change is the poster child for COMPASS participants’ awareness of ‘increased interconnectedness [and] how decisions and actions in one country have global implications’.

All this points to a shared responsibility to limit global warming and increasing environmental degradation – with the onus for action on rich countries, whose unsustainable economic paths are its root cause.  Otherwise the deterioration in poor people’s well-being so eloquently articulated by COMPASS participants will continue, and their ability to build viable livelihoods – their central demand – will be further undermined.

Poor communities and vulnerable groups must be supported to build resilience to unavoidable climate impacts, which requires national and local governments integrating resilience and climate change adaptation into development planning, plus adequate financial and technical support from rich countries. As CAFOD’s DRR adviser Kate Crowley puts it, ‘fair, local-level and participatory’ planning, supported by the right international frameworks is critical. And as COMPASS has found, meaningful participation of poor people in such processes takes time, resources – and political will on the part of elites.

This brings me to the participants’ fundamental goal: control over their own well being and self-reliance.  To support them to achieve this, “climate smart” development must be built around the varying needs and wants of people living in poverty, and respond to their varied circumstances and local contexts. It cannot be top-down or “one size fits all”.

This is the bottom line for any truly “bottom up” approach. CAFOD and IIED are exploring how to apply this insight to designing sustainable energy services for people living in poverty.

‘In the community of Rogongon [in the Philippines], the school has a computer lab but the computers are falling into disrepair since the area has been without electricity for more than a year. Even if they had electricity, there are no other computers in the area, and so IT skills may not be very relevant to local life.’ (COMPASS)

 1.3 billion people still have no electricity and 2.7 billion cook over open fires so increasing access to modern energy is a hot topic in the post-MDGs debate. This is a potential “win-win” for poor people and tree huggers, since to reach universal access, 55% of new electricity must come from decentralized sources – 90% of them renewable.

However, energy needs must be understood holistically, within people’s broader development needs. For instance, more and better quality education is identified as a crucial need by COMPASS participants. This will not be met by providing electricity alone. It also requires books, computers that work, classrooms, well-trained teachers and so on.

CAFOD and IIED have developed an approach to designing energy delivery models that starts by building a holistic understanding of people’s energy needs and wants and the interests of other stakeholders, using a participatory process. It then analyses the local context in which a service will operate- which for us includes socio-cultural factors, such as local preferences, as well as the more formal enabling environment.

All these factors are built into the design with the aim of producing an “energy delivery model” with a greater chance of being financially, socially and environmentally sustainable. We have begun to test our approach with partners on the ground. Watch this space for more news, including a forthcoming paper.



Britain out in front?

March 26, 2012

Last week, speaking at a security conference, Energy and Climate Change Minister Ed Davey bemoaned the lack of public awareness of how much a threat climate change is to our future security and well being – both in the UK and globally.

The Minister also recognized that decisions taken now by governments, businesses – and, by extension, by voters and consumers – means we will (or won’t) manage this risk. As he put it: “Many of the homes, the cars and the power stations we build today will be operating in the middle of the century. We are choosing our future now, but most people don’t realise it.”

This view is backed up by yet another report on the dire state of our planet – this time by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, not known for its tree-hugging tendencies. The report, called The Consequences of Inaction, says that by 2050, without changes to current policies, a world economy 4 times larger and a population much greater will mean an exponential increase in demand for food, water and energy. And ditto for the production of waste. In terms of energy, demand will be up by 80% on today’s levels, with fossil fuels still making up 85% of the mix. (more…)