News / Science & Technology

Report: Environmental Degradation Threatens Global Progress for Poor

A Somali man from southern Somalia cuts tree branches to construct a makeshift shelter in refugee camp in Mogadishu, Somalia, August 11, 2011.
A Somali man from southern Somalia cuts tree branches to construct a makeshift shelter in refugee camp in Mogadishu, Somalia, August 11, 2011.
Lisa Schlein

This year's Human Development Report warns environmental degradation threatens global progress for the poor. It says inaction on climate change and habitat destruction is jeopardizing health and the pursuit of higher income in developing countries.

The 2011 Human Development Report warns development progress in the world's poorest countries could be halted or even reversed by mid-century because of environmental degradation.  

It says this can be stopped if bold steps are taken now to slow climate change, prevent further environmental damage, and reduce deep inequalities within and among nations.  

The report notes both developing and developed countries have made significant progress in human development since 1980. But it argues many of these gains will be lost if environmental deterioration goes unchecked.

Lead author of the report Jeni Klugman says nations in sub-Saharan Africa are at particular risk.

"The main problems that we see in sub-Saharan Africa are around land degradation and desertification, which are affecting livelihoods of many millions of people, obviously in rural areas," said Klugman.  "We also see some significant problems around access to water and safe sanitation in both rural and urban areas."  

The report says half of all malnutrition in sub-Saharan Africa is caused by environmental factors. It says environmental degradation is expected to cut agricultural productivity and cause food prices to soar by up to 50 percent in the coming decades.  

It says environmental deterioration could undermine decades of efforts to expand water, sanitation and access to electricity to the world's poorest communities. While drought in sub-Saharan Africa is of concern, the authors say sea level rises in low-lying nations in South Asia and the Pacific will put more than 100 million people at risk in the decades ahead.

A key feature of the report is its Human Development Index, which ranks countries on their achievements in health, education and income. This year, Norway, Australia and the Netherlands top the rankings of 187 countries, while the Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger and Burundi are at the bottom.  

Klugman draws a comparison between the best- and worst-achieving countries.

"For example, life expectance in Democratic Republic of Congo is 48 years if someone is born today, whereas if they were born in Norway, it would be 81 years," noted Klugman.  "So, it is a huge difference. And, if you go to each of the components of the index, so for example, the average number of years that you would expect a child to go to school in Norway is nearly 13. If they are in the DRC, it is only three-and-one-half years. So, it is just stark differences."  

The United States, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Germany and Sweden round out the top 10 countries in the 2011 Human Development Index. The 10 countries that place last in the rankings are all in sub-Saharan Africa.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs