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Climate Change Resilience: An Opportunity for Reducing Inequalities

World Economic and Social Survey 2016

About 4.2 billion people across the world have been affected by weather-related disasters over the past 20 years, including a significant loss of life. Low-income countries have suffered the greatest losses, including economic costs estimated at 5% of GDP. Developing countries like India are the most affected by climate change, and their poor, vulnerable and marginalised communities are those most at risk.

The Worclimate changeld Economic and Social Survey 2016 (#WESS2016) contributes to the debate on the implementation challenges of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In addressing the specific challenge of building resilience to climate change, this year’s report, “Climate Change Resilience: an Opportunity for Reducing Inequalities”, focuses on how vulnerable population groups and communities are disproportionately affected by climate hazards.

It argues that, in the absence of transformative policies which coherently address the economic, social and environmental dimensions of development, building climate resilience will remain elusive and poverty and inequalities will worsen. The report stresses the need to advance understanding about the link between climate change and inequalities.

Engaging local communities in the planning, implementation and monitoring of resilience interventions is vital. Local indigenous knowledge provides a significant contribution to the design and rollout of climate resilience strategies. Case in point is the city of Gorakphur in India, where communities, constantly challenged by climate-related disasters, were instrumental in generating an understanding of local climate threshold risks derived from historical events.

  • Evidence is growing that climate change is taking the largest toll on poor and vulnerable people.
  • Climate hazards disproportionately affect vulnerable populations and further aggravate existing socioeconomic inequalities.
  • Governments can take steps to reduce the risks of climate change to vulnerable populations. Policies to address the root causes of inequalities are needed to build climate change resilience.
  • While climate adaptation and resilience are often overlooked in climate discussions, they are vital for addressing climate change and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

According to the report, building resilience to climate change provides an opportunity to focus resources on reducing long entrenched inequalities that make people disproportionately vulnerable to climate hazards. It emphasises the need for policies aimed at building climate resilience since these provide an opportunity to address the structural determinants of poverty and inequality in their multiple dimensions.

About the World Economic and Social Survey

The World Economic and Social Survey focuses on specific medium- to long-term development challenges to implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and related international commitments.

For more information on the Survey and to download the full report, please visit the website: wess.un.org