THE VULNERABILITY OF DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
While economic growth and development are priorities in all countries, the needs in developing and least developed countries are on a different scale altogether than those in the developed world. Developing countries are constrained by their particular vulnerability to the impacts of climate variability. The poor in these countries are also at higher risks to both current and future climate change impacts, given their high dependence on agriculture, strong reliance on ecosystem services, rapid growth and concentration of human and livestock populations and relatively poor health services.
In fact, about 99% of the casualties due to the vagaries of climate take place in the developing world. As a result of global warming, the type, frequency and intensity of extreme events, such as tropical cyclones, floods, droughts and heavy precipitation events are expected to rise even with relatively small average temperature increases. New climate studies show that extreme heat waves are very likely to become common in the tropics and subtropics by century’s end. Add to this gloomy scenario insufficient capacity to adapt to future climate change impacts, inadequate infrastructure, meager household income and savings and the limited supporting public services and you have a veritable time bomb in the offing.
CLIMATE CHANGE GOES AGAINST THE GRAIN
Climate change is already inevitable, but in the absence of robust adaptation strategies will almost certainly exacerbate food insecurity. Millions of people in countries that already have food security problems will have to give up traditional crops and agricultural methods as they experience changes in the nature of the seasons, for which, over time, they have developed coping strategies that have enabled them to survive. Given the fact that two billion people already live in the driest parts of the globe, where climate change is projected to reduce yields even further, the challenge of putting enough food in nine billion mouths by 2050 is daunting!