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The Impact of Climate Change on Poor Countries

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Climate Change has been defined as the development challenge of our generation. The scale and depth of what can happen after CO2 emissions pass certain thresholds seem unpredictable to many. And yet, among all uncertainties one thing seems almost certain: it is the poor who are going to suffer the most with the effects of climate change. The talk starts with a brief discussion of climate change, it then delves into different types of poverty in order to assess the main tipping points and impacts of climate change on different forms of poverty. By looking in depth at what is likely to happen to the poor, we can have an idea of the development challenges to be faced in the decades ahead. Many different issues are at stake here such as ‘climate as a global public good’, the role of international organisations in mantaining international order, trade arrangements within a context of food insecurity, disaster relief options and mitigation vs adaptation possibilities, to mention just a few.

Flavio Comim is a development economist. He is Director of the Capability and Sustainability Centre and a Fellow of St Edmund’s College, Cambridge. He was a Coordinating Lead-author of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment on a chapter examining the impact of ecosystem services on poverty reduction. Last year he was one of the authors of the UN Global Environment Outlook (GEO-4). He has also recently conducted two research projects for the United Nations Environment Programme on ‘Poverty&Environment Indicators’ and ‘Sustainable Consumption Indicators’. Flavio Comim has organised several international conferences on the themes of poverty, inequality and justice, exploring in particular the contribution of the Capability Approach, as developed by Professor Amartya Sen and Professor Martha Nussbaum, to human development. At the invitation of the UN he was part of the team that three months ago launched the 2007/2008 Human Development Report on Climate Change.

This talk is part of the Seminars on Sustainable Scenarios series.

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