INCPEN Blog


Will 2014 be the year when we stop talking about preventing climate change and start enabling societies to cope with its effects?

Since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 we’ve been setting targets that are never reached and spending money to make no difference to climate change. During that period worldwide poverty has increased with the result that developing countries are even less able to cope with the effects of climate change.
 
Just consider the difference in the rate of recovery from the floods in New York and the Philippines.
 
Perhaps it’s time to blow the dust off the 1987 UN report Our Common Future, known as the Brundtland report, and look again at its advice – "Poverty is a major cause and effect of global environmental problems. It is therefore futile to attempt to deal with environmental problems without a broader perspective that encompasses the factors underlying world poverty and international inequality”.

The world currently produces enough food to feed everyone. Yet people in developed countries throw away huge quantities of edible food and complain about the packaging that delivered it to them in perfect condition. In contrast, people in developing countries can’t get enough food because they lack our sophisticated packaging and distribution systems and food goes to waste before it reaches them.

Hopefully at the next Earth Summit developed countries will not ask developing countries to restrict their growth but instead offer to help them grow their economies so that they can alleviate poverty. In turn the environment will benefit - people in prosperous economies do not need to cut down forests for fuel.