Volviéndose Mayor en el Cambio Climático

Compartimos el artículo que escribió Rosa Kornfeld, experta Independiente para el disfrute de los Derechos Humanos de las Personas Mayores, donde señala que las acciones y estrategias que se acuerden en la ‪#‎COP21‬, deben reflejar las necesidades y derechos de las ‪personas mayores‬, como una de las poblaciones más vulnerables y afectadas por el cambio climático

Growing Older In a Changing Climate

Population aging is a triumph of development. The proportion of people aged 60 and over is projected to grow in all regions of the world. Moreover, older people are disproportionately impacted by disaster and climate-related stresses such as heat waves and drought.

There are currently 901 million people aged 60 and over in the world and this figure is projected to rise to 2,092 million by 2050. Hyper aging societies are increasing too. A country is considered as hyper-aging when 30 percent of its population is aged 60+. Currently Japan is the only country in the world that can be considered as hyper aging but by 2050 this is likely to increase to 62 countries.

This global trend of population aging coupled with increasing disaster risk due to climate change presents us with a significant vulnerability nexus and this is only set to increase over the next few years. How we respond to this challenge now will make a difference for future generations of older people everywhere.

From 30 November until 11 December world leaders will meet at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris, with the challenging but urgent task of creating the first universal, legally binding agreement to effectively tackle climate change.

This agreement will aim to reduce global warming to an adequate limit in order to prevent catastrophic, irreversible climate change. Currently this is being identified as 2 degrees or less. It must also make a significant contribution to delivering an approach that adequately responds to the immediate and specific needs of the most vulnerable, including older people.

As we get older we are more likely to experience reduced mobility, impaired sight and hearing, chronic health conditions such as diabetes, respiratory illness and dementia, as well as greater vulnerability to heat and cold. These conditions can quickly overwhelm an older person’s ability to adapt to climatic stresses or to cope during disasters where access to appropriate health services can be severely limited.

Disasters and climate-related stresses such as heat waves, flooding and drought are all projected to increase in the future as a direct or indirect result of climate change. During a disaster, older people are often less able or willing to leave their homes and communities to escape from harm. They can struggle to obtain food, travel long distances or endure periods without shelter. Older people face barriers to realising their rights to health and housing and their needs are frequently neglected by decision makers.

In addition, loss of family members and weakened community support from migration or displacement due to climate stresses and disaster can leave older people isolated at a time when they are most in need of support.

International and local humanitarian agencies are currently not doing enough to engage the participation of older people and often ignore the contributions they make within their families and communities.

Older men and women lack opportunities to express their views, so the wealth of knowledge and experience they have from living through previous disasters is under-utilised. As a result agencies are not yet equipped to identify and respond to older people’s specific needs within national and local responses.

Any new framework agreed in Paris should strengthen the principles agreed in the Cancun Adaptation Framework, focusing on a strong commitment to follow ‘A country-driven, gender-sensitive, participatory and fully transparent approach’ making use of ‘traditional and indigenous knowledge.’

There is also a need for the establishment of a Climate Change Displacement Coordination Facility, as proposed by some quarters, to provide assistance to people displaced by the impacts of climate change with a particular focus on certain groups such as older persons.

The new framework should move towards seeing older people as rights holders rather than mere recipients of aid. Implementation of national climate change strategies following the COP21 negotiations must reflect the needs and rights of older people and an aging population as they are disproportionally affected by climate change.

The need to consider all individuals, without discrimination, as a resource for disaster risk reduction and resilience, was echoed in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, which was adopted on March 18, 2015.

Old age cannot be considered within the frames of a finite group. The children and youth of today will be the older people of 2050; we must not ignore these projections. We must meet the needs and protect the rights of a growing population of older people who will be subject to the greatest impacts of climate change over the coming century.

The desire to live in a safe and secure planet does not diminish with age, for us to create a sustainable future for our planet we have to ensure every stage of the life course is considered in development and climate change discussions.

The negotiations in Paris are our chance to demonstrate we really do mean to truly leave no one behind.

This post is part of a «Climate Justice» series produced by The Huffington Post, in conjunction with the U.N.’s 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris (Nov. 30-Dec. 11), aka the climate-change conference. The series will put a spotlight on populations who are adversely affected by climate change. To view the entire series, visit http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/paris-cop21/