GENEVA — Today, over 800 million people are malnourished while approximately one billion people live on less than $1.25 a day. The human experience is further being degraded by the neglect and mismanagement of the environment, as evidenced by the increase of natural disasters, scarcity of resources and extremity of temperatures worldwide. Climate change also decreases food production, access and utilization, therefore increasing malnutrition. The prospects for a positive future increase through addressing these issues holistically with both long-term and short-term solutions.
Climate change and poverty affects life across time, space and culture. Climate change is especially harmful in developing areas, therefore reversing the effects of numerous human developments. The effects of the environment on developing countries is deleterious, while their capacity to address and resolve these problems is often very limited.
According to the World Bank, “As climate change worsens, eradicating poverty will become more difficult. We have a short window of time to put in place the climate and social protection policies that can slow climate change while also protecting the poor.” As the effects of climate change worsen, the ability for the underprivileged to cope decreases and poverty becomes harder to escape.
The capacity for domestic and international communities to address and influence the root causes of climate change and poverty is vast. Organizations, such as the United Nations Development Program, attempt to address the issue of countries being unable to alleviate the causes and effects of climate change through improving the area’s access to water, food, sanitation, energy, infrastructure and political freedom. An example of multilateral efforts in addressing climate change and poverty is the United Nations Development Program has an initiative to integrate climate change into development. This initiative ncludes targeted efforts to integrate climate risks into UNDP programming, provides methodological tools, and especially links policy setting with the financing of solutions.
The Lima Climate Change Conference was held in December of 2014, and the next arrangement will be held in Geneva, Switzerland in 2015. The meeting in Lima was described by the Minister of Environment of Peru, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, as achieving a range of other important outcomes and decisions and “firsts” in the history of the international climate process. According to Vidal, “Levels of transparency and confidence-building reached new heights as several industrialized countries submitted themselves to questioning about their emissions targets under a new process called a Multilateral Assessment.The Lima Ministerial Declaration on Education and Awareness-raising calls on governments to put climate change into school curricula and climate awareness into national development plans.”
While it is critical to address environmental atrocities and the impact of climate change, the policies and negotiations directed towards these issues must include protection of the poor and reduction of poverty. From reducing fossil fuel subsidies, to carbon taxes, to improved infrastructure and efficient land use; the capacity to combat poverty and climate change is vast and underway.
– Neti Gupta