Food security at risk: Climate change hitting poor the hardest, says minister

Mushahid says institutional commitment to confront climate change weak

News Desk June 30, 2015
Mushahid says institutional commitment to confront climate change weak. PHOTO: EXPRESS

Minister for Climate Change Mushahidullah Khan has called for making country’s agriculture sector adapt to changing weather patterns caused by global warming. 

In a press release issued on Sunday, the minister said growing risk of climate change-induced natural disasters was most likely to aggravate state of poverty in the Asia-Pacific region.

“The best viable way to tackle poverty in the region is to help people, particularly farmers, adapt to changing weather patterns caused by climate-altering global warming.”

Boosting adaptation in climate-sensitive agriculture, water, livestock, fisheries and forest sectors in the Asia-Pacific region, which is home to two thirds (743 million) of the world’s total extremely poor people, has become indispensable to abate economic inequality as mostly the poor bear the brunt of natural disasters, Khan suggested.

According to the Global Climate Risk Index-2015, five of the top 10 countries most affected by climate change-induced disasters during 1994-2013 are Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Philippines and Vietnam, the minister highlighted.

He said the recent UN report titled ‘Economic Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific’ concluded that the Asia-Pacific region accounted for 38 per cent of global disaster-related economic losses between 1980 and 2009.

People in the regional countries are four times more likely to be affected by disasters than those in Africa, and 25 times more likely than in Europe or North America, he said quoting from the report.

He said precarious weather extremes are occurring in the Asia-Pacific region more often than any other region of the world.

“This gives the region a huge stake in mitigating global temperature rise while adapting to already rising climate change impacts in shape of floods, typhoons, cyclones, sea level-rise and heat-waves,” Khan shared.

The Asia-Pacific countries urgently needed to boost investment in disaster management, climate-resilient infrastructures, he said while referring to different global studies.

“Investing in disaster risk reduction (DRR) as part of climate change adaptation does make sense, because, every dollar spent for DRR saves at least $4 in post relief and rehabilitation costs,” Khan said.

We must realise as various studies indicate that the climate change-induced extreme weather events are scuttling efforts to haul the poor out of poverty and measures aimed for boosting the trajectory of economic growth, the statement quoted the minister.

Referring to the Asian Development Bank’s recent study “Confront Climate Change to Make Growth More Inclusive”, the minister said the report concludes that devastation caused by climate change-induced disasters is more skewed towards the poor.

The minister said it was a matter of concern that climate change was not viewed as an urgent development agenda at the local level in most of the regional countries including Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 30th, 2015.



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