Poverty reduction efforts, economic growth in Asia-Pacific vulnerable to climate change: Senator Mushahidullah Khan

Islamabad, June 28, 2015 (PPI-OT): Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Mushahidullah Khan said growing risk of climate change-induced natural disasters is most likely to aggravate state of poverty in the Asia-Pacific region. However 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,” the minister said in a statement issued here on Sunday.

Senator Mushahidullah Khan suggests, “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.”

According to the world-acclaimed German-based research institute’s Global Climate Risk Index-2015, five of the top 10 countries most affected by climate change-induced disasters during 1994-2013 are located in the Asia-Pacific regions, namely Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Philippines and Vietnam, the minister highlighted.

Senator Mushahidullah Khan said that recent UN report ‘Economic Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific’ concluded that region has borne the brunt of the physical and economic damage of increased disasters. It 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 quoted from the reported that incidents of precarious weather extremes are occurring in the Asia-Pacific region more often than any other region of the world.

“This, however, gives the region, which accounts for nearly half of the world’s total heat-trapping global greenhouse gas emissions, 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,” the minister highlighted.

The Asia-Pacific countries urgently needed to boost investment in disaster management, climate-resilient infrastructures, he said referring to different global studies, Mushahidullah underlined. The Minister says, “Investing in disaster risk reduction (DRR) as part of climate change adaptation does make sense. Because, every dollar spent for DRR saves at least US$4 in post relief and rehabilitation costs.”

We must realize as various studies indicate that the climate change-induced extreme weather events, particularly floods, heat waves, tropical cyclones, shifting rainfall patterns, expanding summers and shrinking winters are scuttling efforts to haul the poor out of poverty and measures aimed for boosting the trajectory of economic growth, Mushahidullah Khan said.

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 toward the poor, exacerbating escalating inequality in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Boosting efforts for tackling poverty and narrowing widening inequality through adaptation measures in the climate-vulnerable region should, however, lead growth in socio-economic development and improvement in climate resilience must anchor this effort, Mushahidullah Khan suggested.

More importantly, unhampered and just access to economic opportunities, assets and financial services, and institutional capacity in regional countries would, for sure, enable the poor deal with impacts of climate change on their lives and livelihoods, he added.

The minister believes that climate-resilient infrastructure in water, irrigation, water, sanitation in both rural and urban settings is also crucial in disaster-prone countries, which should be viewed at the heart of effective climate change adaptation and resilience development programmes in the regional countries.

He said that it is a matter of concern that climate change is not viewed as an urgent development agenda at the local level in most of the regional countries including Pakistan. Besides, awareness of climate risks is still at the lowest ebb and institutional commitment to confront climate change is weak.

“Strengthening climate resilience at all levels to mitigate negative impacts of the climate change on socio-economic and poverty reduction gains in the region will inevitable require increasing levels of understanding about severity of climate risks/vulnerability of socio-economic sectors as well as institutional commitment at all levels,” Mushahidullah Khan stressed.

For more information, contact:
Muhammad Saleem
Deputy Director
Media and Communication
Ministry of Climate Change
Government of Pakistan
LG and RD Complex, G-5/2, ISLAMABAD
Ph: 051-9245565
E-mail: moccpakistan@hotmail.com
Web: http://www.mocc.gov.pk/