News / Africa

UN Says if No Action Taken, Global Warming Will Threaten Developing Countries

Cover of Human Development Report 2011
Cover of Human Development Report 2011
TEXT SIZE - +
Kim Lewis

The United Nations says a lack of action on climate change and habitat destruction will threaten the progress of developing countries.

The issue was part of the 2011 report of the U.N. Development program (UNDP), entitled Sustainability and Equity: a Better Future for All.

The report argues that environmental sustainability is not just about focusing on the environment but encompasses a wide range of social issues. Among them are health, education, income, gender disparities and energy production, combined with protection of the ecosystem.

“Climate change, the destruction of forests, depleting resources, fisheries, the ocean, fresh water, declining quantity and quality of clean water supplies - all of those constellations of environmental factors are part of sustainability,” said William Orme, a UNDP spokesperson in New York.

In addition, said Orme, the UNDP looks at sustainability as part of society, and includes social, economic and political matters, all of which he said are connected.

While the report focuses on the world’s poorest countries, Orme said African countries as a group are most vulnerable to the effects of continuing climate and global warming.
“Droughts, intense rainfalls, cyclones, rising sea levels - all of these things conspire almost uniquely against sub-Saharan Africa,” explained Orme.

Orme said many positive things are happening in African countries and added Africa does have resources, such as great forestry resources, but even these are threatened.

“For instance, the Congo River Basin helps the entire planet by providing carbon dioxide, but those [resources] are also under threat because they are being cut both for firewood for people living in villages and also for the industrial taking of tropical hardwood for export,” said Orme.

He added that the culmination of these environmental factors mean sub-Saharan African countries are right at the center of this challenge.

However, he cautioned that not all African countries should be grouped together because they are at various stages of development and have different resources available to them.

The 2011 Human Development Report argues that if you invest in people’s health and schooling, the population will be a better keeper of its environmental resources over the long term.

“One concrete example: there is a proposal now backed by the U.N., which is discussed in the report, to provide electricity to the nearly 20% of the world’s population—1.4 billion people, approximately, who live off of the power grid. That is very true of rural sub-Saharan Africa,” said Orme.

Electricity is important for poor families because it allows children to study at night and families to cook basic meals without burning firewood inside the home.

“The fear is that this [providing electricity] would contribute to further global warming because more people would be connected to the power grid,” but that is not the case, said Orme.

“You can actually provide power to these people at reasonable cost using new technology, including solar, wind and more efficient use of fossil fuels, without significantly increasing carbon emissions,” he said.

The challenge, he said, is for governments and the international community to embrace and implement these changes.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid