Human activities are having an impact on the composition of the atmosphere. The natural background greenhouse effect is gradually becoming the greenhouse problem. It has been estimated that if current trends continue unabated, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will reach double the pre-industrial level by the year 2050. Physical impacts such as rising sea levels will dramatically alter the natural balance of local and global ecosystems and will infringe on human settlements.
Consequently, vulnerable groups such as poor women and men will be faced with problems such as food insecurity, loss of livelihood and hardship due to environmental degradation, all of which leads to displacement and a whole host of potentially devastating economic and social consequences.
Most developing countries, especially the small island states and those in Africa and South Asia, have few resources to contend with these impacts. Agriculture, as a particular example, will be seriously affected as these nations, largely characterized by their vulnerability, often weak institutional capacity and precarious financial situations, attempt to grapple with the increasing problems of climate change.
As an illustration of limited capacity, one can review the recent experience of Mozambique in which extensive floods left hundreds of thousands of citizens homeless and destroyed much of the local infrastructure. How can we ensure that the most vulnerable groups, and poor women fall well within this category, develop the capacity to respond effectively to the threat of climate change?