Pages tagged "Social policy"

  • UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres calls for transformation of world economy



    CAHA Vice President Dr Peter Sainsbury is in Paris attending many of the side events accompanying the UNFCCC COP21 global climate change talks. He shares some reflections here on the process, stimulated by a presentation by UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figures to one of these side events. "At the beginning of the second week of the COP21 negotiations in Paris, Executive Secretary of the UNFCC, Christiana Figueres, addressed a group of philanthropic funders. I was fortunate enough to be there and she was inspiring, but the message was also concerning. The whole speech, only 10 minutes, is available at I strongly encourage people to watch it.

    My summary, to whet your appetite, is: Ms Figueres began with some upbeat observations about progress in several domains over the last 12 months and then expressed her views that:

    · An agreement to tackle climate change would be nutted out over the next week, although it would be tough;

    · An agreement would probably be made about the direction of change but not the speed;

    · ˜a completely different economic development model' is required to effect the changes necessary;

    · Markets alone could achieve the change required but not quickly enough;

    · The science is clear that carbon emissions must peak by 2020 “ especially if we are to fulfil our moral duty to protect the most vulnerable communities;

    · We must focus our attention and help on developing countries “ they have increasing carbon emissions, increasing populations and increasing needs for infrastructure;

    · The energy needs of those without current access to electricity must be met with renewables “ but different finance models will be needed in different situations, for example for on-grid and off-grid communities;

    · We must find ways of working across not within silos, and for the long not the short term “ not easy for humans; The mantra is BAU: Business As Urgent.

    Why did I find all that concerning? Because while I am sure that we (the global we) understand the problem adequately and have sufficient technological solutions already available to us to keep global warming under 2C, I'm not sure that we have the social wherewithal (for instance common purpose and national and international institutions) to achieve the policy and technical changes necessary in the very short time we have left to prevent disaster. As others have observed: the laws of physics don't negotiate."

  • Future under threat: climate change and children's health

    By Brad Farrant, University of Western Australia, Fiona Armstrong, Climate and Health Alliance, and Glenn Albrecht, Murdoch University Climate change has been widely recognised by leading public health organisations and prestigious peer reviewed journals as the the biggest global health threat of the 21st century. A recently released report, commissioned by 20 of the most vulnerable countries, highlights the size of the threat: climate change is already responsible for 400,000 deaths annually, mostly from hunger and communicable disease. And our carbon-intensive energy system causes another 4.5 million deaths annually, largely due to air pollution. Along with the old and disadvantaged, children are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change. Children suffer around 90% of the disease burden from climate change. What can our children expect if we continue the way we're going? Even if current international carbon reduction commitments are honoured, the global temperature rise is predicted to be more than double the internationally agreed target of 2°C. Humanity continues to pour record amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. It has been argued that, if this continues, reasonable hope of avoiding dangerous climate change will have passed us by in a mere 16 years. The impact climate change has on children born today may well be decided before they can vote on it. Climate change will affect global agricultural productivity and food security, with 25 million additional children predicted to be malnourished by 2050. The estimate of an additional 200 million "environmental refugees" by 2050 has become the widely accepted figure. This means, if we do not intervene, millions of children will suffer the adverse mental, physical and social health impacts associated with forced migration. The impact climate change has on children born today may well be decided before they can vote on it. Steve Slater Wildlife Encounters The intensity and frequency of weather extremes will increase. This will result in increased child illness and death from heat waves, floods, storms, fires and droughts. The increased incidence and severity of floods, for instance, will increase child illness and death from diarrhoea and other water born diseases. We're likely to see more asthma, allergies, disease and other adverse health outcomes that disproportionately affect children. A recent report observed that climate change may make serious epidemics more likely in previously less-affected communities. This report also found that changing climate conditions have the potential to stimulate the emergence of new diseases and influence children's vulnerability to disease. Australians will not be immune to these changes. It has been estimated that climate change will mean that Australian children will face a 30% to 100% increase across selected health risks by 2050. Indeed, if we fail to act, future generations of Australians may face a three- to 15-fold increase in these health risks by 2100. Because their brains are still developing, children are particularly vulnerable to toxic levels of stress. Increased exposure to trauma and stress because of climate change is likely to affect children's brain development and mental health. Children surveyed six months after the 2003 bushfires in Canberra, for example, showed much higher rates of emotional problems. Nearly half had elevated symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Research has also found that prolonged exposure to adverse weather conditions is associated with increased child and adolescent psychological distress over time. As global warming drives local and regional change to home environments, children, like many non-human animals will experience place-based distress (known as solastalgia) at the unwelcome changes. An additional 25 million children around the world are predicted to be malnourished by 2050. United Nations Photo We are only beginning to understand the impacts that climate change will have on children's physical and mental health. More research at the regional and local levels is desperately needed so we can adequately understand, prepare for and adapt to the impacts of climate change. James Hansen from NASA recently argued that:

    Children cannot avoid hearing that the window of opportunity to act in time to avoid dramatic climate impacts is closing, and that their future and that of other species is at stake. While the psychological health of our children needs to be protected, denial of the truth exposes them to even greater risk.

    We must listen to the fears and concerns of children and young people and include their voices in discussions about climate change. The existence of cost effective ways to reduce climate change means there is no excuse for inaction. Climate change and the carbon-intensive energy system are currently costing 1.7% of global GDP and are expected to reach 3.5% by 2030. This is much higher than the cost of shifting to a low carbon economy. Right now the science is telling us that we are not doing enough. As children are innocent and non-consenting victims of climate change, adults have an ethical obligation to do everything possible to prevent further damage to their ability to thrive in the future. To do otherwise is to ignore the very thing many of us see as the most important reason for living. Brad Farrant is supported by funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council. He has no commercial interests of any kind. Fiona Armstrong is Convenor of the Climate and Health Alliance. Glenn Albrecht has previously received funding from an ARC DP project and an NCCARF grant. This article was originally published at The Conversation. Read the original article.

  • Do you have the Power to Persuade? A workshop on building knowledge and capacity for policy change

    By Fiona Armstrong How to translate research evidence into policy? What research methodologies offer the best results for social policy outcomes? How can researchers, policymakers and the third sector work together to deliver better results for people and communities? How do we create policy networks that can be adaptive, resilient and flexible enough to respond to the significant societal challenges we face? The Power to Persuade forum hosted by University of Melbourne and Good Shepherd on Wednesday 5th September 2012 brought together researchers, service providers, policymakers and policy advocates to discuss some of these questions to build a better collective understanding of the necessary elements of effective social policy outcomes. Transforming governance Keynote speaker Mark Considine acknowledged the need for transformational change in public policy development, and proposed the establishment of civil society governance networks, built on "deep partnerships" between institutions and other actors, and guided by judicial bureaucratic mandates, may provide a model for the kind of societal leadership that can fill the gaps currently created by the 'short termism' endemic in current political governance. Considine pointed to complex policy challenges such as climate change, food insecurity and people movement, suggesting that the capacity for transformational change needed to address these issues may not reside in existing institutions, and if we are to avoid disruption and upheaval triggered by environmental shock, new governance networks are needed. Building the sorts of partnerships required for adaptive resilient policy responses can begin through, for example, data sharing, pooled budgets and shared research, to build trust and common goals - and these smaller steps can lead to deeper ties over time that can better manage and respond to transformational change. Economics and policy decision-making Economist Alan Sheill spoke about the harsh realities of having to determine priorities in health and how economics can provide important insights about cost: benefit ratios to inform decision-making. While for health and welfare professionals, service providers and policymakers this is a challenging dimension of social policy, Shiell says: "we do not have enough resources (time, finances, space etc) to do everything we would wish to do to promote health and social well-being - therefore we need to choose". However, economic evidence is not always necessary, not does it always inform policy decision-making, Friell said, pointing out that very often, the public and politicians are not aware of the economic cost of political decisions. It was important for social policy advocates to use the rhetoric of economic costs to build support for actions, but recognize that economic analysis does not always reflect broader social benefits and there is a need to develop research methods that can incorporate less easily quantifiable health and social wellbeing gains from social policy initiatives. Methodologies and case studies Other speakers outlined case studies and research methodologies that offer powerful and effective examples of social policy innovation, such as J2SI, a long term program for homelessness. Damon Alexander shared some insights into the benefits of Social Network Analysis, a research method that is being used in multiple ways eg to map strategic information networks to evaluate innovation in government, look at information flows of strategic advice within primary care partnerships, and understand formal and informal relationships within organisations. Social network analysis was a powerful tool for understanding relationships between actors in a particular policy environment, and mapping "what" happens and "when" but not so much about "how" or "why"¦ Other case studies included great examples of participatory rights based methodologies from Karen Dowling from the Victorian Department of Education on ˜Listen 2 Learners'; and Leo Fieldgrass from the Brotherhood of St Lawrence on ˜Mobile Matters'. Final word John Falzon from St Vincent de Paul responded to this session, and spoke about the exceptionally important job of engaging with community and with people in developing social policy, finished with a poetic warning from Martin Luther King in saying: "A riot is at best the language of the unheard." Like all good modern events, the Twitter stream provided insight into people's thinking. You can search for some of the twitter stream on the forum by using the hash tag: #powertopersuade - a small sample is reproduced here: Dean Lombard?@vcossDean Evidence is important, but clearly not enough. Plenty evidence of the social harm of problem gambling; but still no change #powertopersuade Philip Wallis?@philipwallis Hearing from @KazzaD1 about using social media for student participation in policy development #powertopersuade   John Falzon?@JohnFalzon The question has been posed: who should we be trying to persuade? #powertopersuade #powertothepeople nyunkia tauss?@nyunkiatauss In effective system, all doors shd be the right door, whether it's for people in dire need or not. Great concept @vcossdean #powertopersuade Karen Dowling?@KazzaD1 Kathy Landvogt, Good Shepherd at #PowertoPersuade used SNA to look at effectivenss of financial services 4 ppl needing help.'No wrong door' GSY&FS Advocacy?@GoodAdvocacy How do you know you are making a difference? Using health economics to measure outcomes #powertopersuade Marie McInerney?@mariemcinerney Great insights into challenges and promise of Sacred Heart Mission's J2SI chronic homelessness research proj #powertopersuade - stay tuned. CAHA Inc?@healthy_climate Economist Alan Shiell: valuable health interventions via unexpected approaches eg reduce HIV through micro financing #powertopersuade

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