UN warns of impact of climate change on South Asia

25 August 2008
Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization

Climate change could have a particularly severe impact on South Asia, where a large proportion of the region’s population depends on subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods, a United Nations-sponsored conference heard today.

A six-day workshop in Dhaka, Bangladesh, starting today, is examining the effects of global warming on the predominantly agricultural region, with over two-thirds of its 1.52 billion-strong population living in rural areas.

But nearly 300 million people across South Asia are undernourished, and the region shelters 43 per cent of the world’s population living on less than one dollar a day.

“Climate is a crucial factor in formulating sustainable development strategies, and therefore has an overarching and cross-cutting role in the efforts to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals [MDGs],” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud, referring to the eight anti-poverty targets world leaders pledged to achieve by 2015.

“It is essential to help countries reduce climate-induced risks that might oppose the achievement of MDGs notably in terms of poverty reduction and food security.”

He Changchui, FAO Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific, emphasized the strong linkages between climate change and food security, given that agriculture both drives and is affected by global warming.

He called on governments to implement national development strategies to cope with climate change’s impacts on the farming sector.

Participants will confer on integrating mitigation and adaptation measures in South Asia and explore options for improving information and cooperation in the region.

Drawing more than 300 experts from South Asia and beyond, the event was organized by the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), along with Ohio State University and the University of Dhaka.


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