Climate change presents a fundamental challenge to sustainable development. Poor and developing countries, particularly the least-developed, will be among those most significantly affected and least able to cope with the anticipated shocks of climate change on their social, economic and natural systems. Given the difficulties in getting climate change on to the policy agenda in developed countries, it's no surprise that it remains a low priority in developing countries. But with scientific evidence increasingly clear on the potential impacts, it is now essential that climate change moves up the priority list, and countries understand their responsibilites, in addition to their risks.
Though scientific evidence strongly indicates that some climate change is now unavoidable, coherent action today still has the potential to mitigate some of the worst impacts. For developing economies, this presents a dilemma: their growth may be intimately linked to exploitation of fossil fuels, while the costs of green or clean technology may seem, at first glance, prohibitive. In such circumstances, how can a case be built for investing in climate change mitigation?
The vulnerability of poor and developing countries to natural disasters needs no introduction. But with climate change threatening to increase the frequency of extreme weather events, the call from the international community to focus on preventative and protective measures rather than emergency relief is only getting louder. The challenge is to identify what measures can be practically adopted to reduce the impact of these events and engage measures which contribute to change over the longer-term and work towards achieving sustainable livelihoods.
Where governments are tackling urgent needs in, for example, healthcare, basic infrastructure or education, and where resources are at a premium, climate change may seem like a distant concern. However, studies by the World Bank make it clear that “developing countries face 75-80 percent of the potential damage from climate change.” A policy of climate change adaptation, rooted in an understanding of local risk factors and what can be done to respond to them, is therefore a vital and practical way forward.
Human Security is a new departure for the forthcoming Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report. The chapter examines new and emerging findings on climate change. Read more
Click below to view our projects in Climate change