Thursday, March 14, 2013

Environmental threats could push billions into extreme poverty, warns UN

Claire Provost in the "globaldevelopment blog" at the Guardian (UK): The number of people living in extreme poverty could increase by up to 3 billion by 2050 unless urgent action is taken to tackle environmental challenges, a major UN report warned on Thursday. The 2013 Human Development Report hails better than expected progress on health, wealth and education in dozens of developing countries but says inaction on climate change, deforestation, and air and water pollution could end gains in the world's poorest countries and communities.

"Environmental threats are among the most grave impediments to lifting human development … The longer action is delayed, the higher the cost will be," warns the report, which builds on the 2011 edition looking at sustainable development. "Environmental inaction, especially regarding climate change, has the potential to halt or even reverse human development progress. The number of people in extreme poverty could increase by up to 3 billion by 2050 unless environmental disasters are averted by co-ordinated global action," said the UN.

"Far more attention needs to be paid to the impact human beings are having on the environment. Climate change is already exacerbating chronic environmental threats, and ecosystem losses are constraining livelihood opportunities, especially for poor people. A clean and safe environment should be seen as a right, not a privilege."

...The proportion of people living under $1.25 a day is estimated to have fallen from 43% in 1990 to 22% in 2008, driven in part by significant progress in China. As a result, the World Bank last year said the millennium development goal to halve the proportion of people living in extreme poverty by 2015 had been met ahead of schedule....

A girl selling snacks in Cambodia, shot by McKay Savage, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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