Addressing the triple emergency: poverty, climate change, and environmental degradation

Delivering coherent policy outcomes in 2020-2021

Bond Development and Environment Group

Friday, June 5, 2020

2020 marks the start of a decade in which we must collectively limit climate change, restore nature, and make our societies more equal and just.

Otherwise, we will emerge from this global pandemic locked into a climate emergency, a nature emergency, and a poverty emergency. We will undermine our and future generations’ ability to produce food, to have enough water, to remain healthy, and to thrive.

2020 was set to be a landmark year on global action to tackle this triple emergency, with global summits on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change COP 26 planned to be in Glasgow this November. While these events have rightly been postponed due to the global pandemic, these issues remain urgent and must be at the heart of recovery plans in order for humanity to succeed in our goal to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C, halt and reverse the decline of nature, and build the resilient and inclusive future envisioned in the Paris Agreement and the SDGs. Coherent and integrated solutions are now more important than ever.

This report was developed by the Bond Development Environment Group, and includes case studies from WWF, WCS, Christian Aid, ActionAid, Oxfam, World Vision, RSPB, CARE, Plan International UK, Mercy Corps, and Practical Action. The paper outlines:

  • the interactions between poverty, climate change, and nature loss
  • the need for and opportunities to address this triple emergency in an integrated way
  • case studies from NGO programming seeking to work in an integrated way
  • an action plan for tackling the triple emergency. 

We call on governments, businesses, and civil society to work together in 2020 and 2021 to recognise and support the interdependency of people, nature, and climate with the following commitments:

  • Increase ambition: Action is not matching what the science tells us is needed. Ambition must be ratcheted up and implementation started in earnest across the SDGs, CBD, and the Paris Agreement.
  • Increase coherence: Governments and businesses can no longer make commitments under these conventions, while continuing with business as usual that is driving the triple emergency. All areas of domestic and international policy must be consistent with all the conventions, and accompanied by measures that drive real world change.
  • Achieve balance: Social and environmental factors must urgently become ‘equals’ to economics in all policy making, decision making, and investments. The triple emergency is a result of unsustainable development, and truly sustainable development – that balances the environmental, social, and economic limitations we face as a society – is the only viable option left on the table.
Resource type: briefing

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