The link between climate change and sustainable development derives from the idea that climate change is a constraint to development and as a result sustainable development is the key to capacities for mitigation and adaptation. This means that the strategies for dealing with sustainable development and climate change have common elements such that applying them together creates interactions (Yeung, 2000).
Furthermore, developing countries with poor economies, weak socio-economic structures and misguided agricultural policies fall victims of the climatic phenomena known as El Niño. The droughts and floods which were caused by the El Niño cycle in 1982-83 led to a fall in gross consequences on the economy and health care. Populations in the southern regions of the world are more vulnerable to floods and deforestation than industrialized nations and as a result the severity of natural disasters such as hurricanes, droughts, and floods appear to be increasing as global warming increases. For instance, China has been hit by increased flooding in recent years and in 1998 more than 3,000 people died and four million were rendered homeless due to floods (Foley, 2014).
People and the ecosystems in Africa are currently under threat from deforestation, land degradation and heavy dependence on biomass for energy. In sub-Saharan Africa over 80 percent of the population depends on traditional biomass for cooking. Therefore, climate change is likely to be an additional stress factor. The key vulnerable sectors include agriculture, food and water. Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to suffer the most not only in terms of reduced agricultural productivity and increased water insecurity, but also in increased exposure to coastal flooding and extreme climatic events, and increased risks to human health.
Sustainable development in Africa cannot be addressed effectively without accounting for the impacts of climate change on agriculture, conflicts and disease patterns all of which have particular impact on the poor. In facing the challenges of climate change, the priorities for African countries are
- Achieving high political recognition for Africa on the platform of international negotiations.
- Allocating resources appropriately ensuring food and energy security.
- Managing and adapting to long-term climate risk.
However, these goals require good governance; access to technology; investment in innovation; the involvement and commitment of all segments of society; and international, national and regional cooperation.
Climate change is also shifting climate zones such that traditional farming areas are being lost because agriculture cannot adapt rapidly enough to the new conditions. Therefore the traditional farming knowledge which were passed down from one generation to the next have become irrelevant as the annual rains come at different times with different volumes of rainfall changes which are no longer predictable (Peng, Chen, and Cheng Y. (No date).
Natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, floods and storms have the ability to destroy fields and crops such that productivity on small farms becomes curtailed for many years. The effect of this is that it limits the ability for farmers to grow enough food for themselves and for the rest of the population because natural disaster can lead to an economic crisis as it causes a drop in income in urban regions.