Parliaments need to act on climate change

Parliaments need to act on climate change
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Climate change is one of the most serious threats to sustainable development. © Issouf Sanogo/AFP

Parliaments should take stronger action on climate change through their legislative and oversight roles. This was one of the conclusions of a high-level regional seminar, which was jointly organized by the IPU and the National Assembly of Viet Nam in Ho Chi Minh City from 11 to 13 May. The seminar aimed at helping parliaments in the Asia-Pacific region achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The discussions focused on climate change, which according to Tòng Thị Phóng, Vice Chairperson of the National Assembly, is one of the most serious threats to sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region. She said that environmental degradation and disaster risk need to be part of parliamentary engagement on climate change.

“Climate change is not going to wait for us. It will continue to cause destruction,” said the IPU Secretary General, Martin Chungong. He added that: “Well-being for all is key.”

Parliamentarians play a crucial role in translating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into legislation and policies, and in integrating them into national development plans with country-specific goals. Participants stressed the importance of involving citizens, especially vulnerable groups—who are disproportionately affected by climate change—in the development of such plans.

Moreover, participants discussed the impact of climate change on women—who tend to be more adversely affected by it than men—and on public health. The outcome document calls on parliaments to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment to help achieve sustainable development. It also calls on parliaments to ensure that affordable and quality health care is available for all citizens, especially those adversely affected by climate change.

The IPU’s role in helping to integrate the SDGs into legislation was highlighted. Parliaments were urged to use the IPU/UNDP self-assessment tool on the SDGs to advance on implementing those goals.