It’s getting hot in here. Key scientific evidence recognizes with 85-100% certainty that human influence has been the dominant cause of observed warming since the mid-20th century. With climate change being such a hot topic (literally) on everyone’s minds, common frameworks such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by United Nations member states in 2015, serve as a global blueprint towards a sustainable future. At the heart of this Agenda are the Sustainable Development Goals, 17 interlinked goals that act as a shared reference to help countries develop strategies for a better and more sustainable future for all. But how does this interconnected blueprint actually work? We’ll show you.

The work of the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada (JGI Canada) is driven by our purpose of inspiring hope through action. This can be seen in our conservation work in Africa’s ‘chimpscape regions’ – areas where chimpanzees and communities live alongside each other, sharing the natural environment and its resources. JGI Canada collaborates with partners to support a holistic community-centred approach that focuses on local knowledge, and nature-based solutions at the intersection of people, animals and the environment.

Here’s what that approach looks like in action. In 2020, JGI Canada and its partners launched the “Building Community Resilience to Climate Change in Senegal” (BCR) a climate change adaptation project, funded in partnership with Global Affairs Canada. The main objective of this project is to improve the resilience of communities to climate change in the Kedougou region, located southeast of Senegal. This region is highly susceptible to the impact of climate change, including erratic rainfall patterns, frequent floods, prolonged and unpredictable droughts, and increasing rates of soil erosion. This climate change mitigation and adaptation project centers the interconnectedness of people, animals and the environment, understanding that each group relies on one another to adapt and thrive in this rapidly changing context.

The BCR project was developed with partners and local stakeholders to address the most important threats communities face every day. This led to different pathways for change, including supporting community members, especially women, to use climate-smart agriculture to produce crops that can survive droughts; to produce and market alternative fuel to address deforestation and provide opportunities for livelihood; and to prevent and manage uncontrolled bushfires that threaten the health of the forest and the people and animals who depend on it, all while planting Indigenous trees and plants.

Remember those Sustainable Development Goals mentioned before? They’re actually the focus of this year’s International Development Week, an annual initiative from Global Affairs Canada, to engage Canadians on global issues. The theme of the event is Go for the Goals, and this climate change adaptation and mitigation project is doing just that. The strategies outlined above can be directly linked to the following SGD targets: 13.1 – Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries; 5.5- Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life; and 15.2 – Promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally. The blueprint of SDGs works, and it reminds us one issue cannot be addressed without considering the others.

Seeing the challenges climate change puts on communities, especially those that are the most marginalized and vulnerable, is vital to understanding how to use abstract blueprints such as the SDG framework to create tangible solutions. With collaboration and support from Global Affairs Canada and partners in the Kedougou region of Senegal, we can provide support to local communities as they steward their own lands and use nature-based solutions to heal and protect the fragile ecosystem. Climate change is the most urgent issue to tackle to ensure communities, animals and the environment can thrive. By working together, and using shared resources and frameworks (like the SDGs), we chip away at big issues and bring ourselves towards a better planet for all who call it home.

Photo Credit: JGI Spain, Fernando Turmo/JGI

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