Monday, January 6, 2014

The year that resilience gets real

Roger-Mark De Souza and Meaghan Parker in New Security Beat: ... [W]e must understand the environmental and demographic trends that increase our vulnerability. The areas of the Philippines hit by Haiyan, for example, had high population densities in vulnerable coastal and urban areas and degraded coastal forests and mangroves, leaving more people than ever exposed to the brunt of the typhoon’s storm surge. Similarly, the coastal communities devastated by Sandy were long ago stripped of their protective wetlands and natural contours by development. Three key trends will continue to drive global insecurity in 2014:
Population dynamics: The world is projected to add another 82 million people this year, 24 million of them in sub-Saharan Africa, where total fertility rates continue to outpace the rest of the world. In parts of the Middle East and Asia, changing age structures and ethno-religious demographic shifts will affect the potential for conflict and thus the ability of communities to respond to shocks, both natural and manmade.
Climate change impacts: We will continue to experience climate change-related shocks, including quick hits – floods, disease outbreaks, and food price increases – and slower-burning ones like drought, food price volatility, and environmental degradation. The impacts of these shocks on the poorest and most vulnerable will increase both in intensity and frequency. This year more attention will be paid to how developed and emerging middle-income countries (Brazil, India, China) can mitigate those impacts by curbing their emissions or by providing meaningful assistance through climate-resilient development programs.
The food-water-energy nexus: Today, one in eight people in the world suffer from chronic hunger, many of them in sub-Saharan Africa, where one in five are undernourished. About 1.2 billion people live in areas of water scarcity. More than 1.3 billion people don’t have electricity, and about 2.6 billion use wood and other solid fuels for cooking, leading to deforestation and illness from indoor air pollution. In these already stressed communities, more shocks will lead to even poorer health and slower economic growth. But these impacts will not just affect the poorest. An estimated 20 percent of today’s global economic output is based in countries that will face high risks from the impacts of climate change by the year 2025. The interconnected global economy means the effects of complex crises will ripple around the world....
A hand water pump in China, shot by 劉久弘, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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