15-16 JUNE 2016 / Tour & Taxis / Brussels

Poverty eradication & climate change: Friends or foes?

<p>Climate change is imposing a severe, growing burden on development cooperation efforts. There is a fundamental link between global poverty eradication, climate change and environmental sustainability.</p> <p>It seems impossible to meet the proposed new overarching global development goal of eliminating extreme poverty by 2030 without genuinely addressing climate change, and vice versa. Developing countries will tend to be more negatively affected by climate change, due to their greater vulnerability to climate-induced shocks and their oftentimes low resilience and adaption capacity.</p> <p>Climate change adaptation measures are therefore essential to ensuring a sustained path towards poverty eradication. At the same time, low emission approaches are increasingly built into national development strategies with the aim of ensuring sustainable and equitable growth.</p> <p>We will build upon the results of the UNFCCC conference of November 2013 in Warsaw and have to act quickly and decisively.</p>
Auditorium A
Session type: 
Wednesday, November 27, 2013 -
14:00 to 15:30
Key Points: 
  • Unless development aid is used for policies to prevent climate change, it does not support development. Politicians must move out of their silos to develop programmes that are coherent across policy areas.
  • At least 50 % of future European Commission development aid projects should be dedicated to actions that include a climate change strand.
  • Those most affected by climate change are the 49 least developed countries - that also have the lowest levels of greenhouse gas emissions and have contributed the least to climate change. They desperately need funds for adaptation, but so far more funds have been directed at mitigation efforts.
  • All governments are looking to 2015, when there will be a reassessment of the Millennium Development Goals and the Paris Conference of the Parties, which will revisit the possibility of keeping temperature rises within 2° C.



Climate change threatens poverty reduction and sustainable development. Failure to reduce the impact of climate change will push an additional 3 million people into poverty in the world’s poorest countries. These are the people with the highest exposure to risk and the least financial resources to protect themselves.

Those most strongly affected people live in the 49 least developed countries (LDCs), although they emit far fewer greenhouse gases because of their low level of industrial activity. Most of the public debate so far has been led by the richest nations and has concentrated on funds for mitigation, which the LDCs say they do not need. Their greatest need is for funds for adaptation, which has been grossly underfunded.

In some African LDCs, the combination of poverty, resource-rich land and bad governance has exacerbated the problem. For example in Mali, where the government is weak, the Tuaregs occupy resource-rich land. However, they have no access to farming land or to water. This is why they joined with outside Islamic forces in the rebellion against the government. While foreign troops have now intervened to quash the rebellion, intervention is costly. These funds could have been used to help prevent the ongoing crisis in the country caused by the effects of climate change.  

The week before European Development Days, UN Secretary-General Ban ki Moon stressed that cities are increasingly relevant to climate change, as urban areas emit over 60 % of all greenhouse gases. Massive slums to house growing numbers of poor people are continuing to grow around urban areas. This is yet another example of the need to link development with measures to slow down climate change. Without improved investment in governance and city planning, both poverty and climate change will increase. However, sustainable urban development could help slow down climate change by creating green jobs and building an economy that supports biodiversity.   

Ibrahim Thiaw, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, was frustrated by human beings’ slow response to the mess they have created. Although we have known for 20 years about climate change, and the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) report says it is 95 % certain that human activity is responsible for climate change, we still cannot fix the problem.

Speakers agreed that there is no conflict between eliminating poverty and slowing down climate change. While they rejected the term ‘mainstreaming’, they accepted that politicians had to move out of their ‘silos’ to create coherent policies.

The EU’s new budget has a more integrated approach to development aid and climate change. Within the European Commission’s new thematic budget line for development cooperation – the Global Public Goods and Challenges – the aim is to develop 50 % of activities relevant to environment and climate change.

The European Commission has also developed Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs), as flagship policies that combine national adaption plans with low emission strategies, linking the benefits with development strategies.

A growing number of projects already unite economic development and poverty reduction with mitigation and adaptation strategies. For example, France is working with the Senegalese government in reforestation projects to fight coastal erosion, improve fish reproduction and prevent the areas from becoming over-salinated.

Future international action is now focused on 2015, when the UN Millennium Development Goals will be reassessed and a new set of goals drawn up. It is also the year for the Paris Conference of the Parties, which will revisit the possibility of keeping temperature rises within 2° C.


The recent catastrophe in the Philippines – super typhoon Haiyan – is a clear example of the effects of climate change and how it can increase the vulnerability of populations. It was caused by the rise in water temperatures in the region and rising sea levels. At the same time, water depletion in Manila is causing the city to sink.

  • Body: Nobody can define any development policy today without a strong focus on the environment, climate and sustainable use of our natural resources.
    Quote Year: 2013
    Nid: 1605
  • Body: Climate change is really difficult – but if we don’t get it right, it is actually development that will be washed away.
    Quote Year: 2013
    Nid: 1604


  • Climate change

    Climate change is one of the most serious challenges facing humankind. Given the necessity to keep the global average temperature increase below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels, the EU develops and implements climate change policies and strategies to take its share and help the world meet its targets for 2020 and beyond.

    There is broad recognition that the natural resources base – including a healthy environment and sustainable energy resources – and the ability to lift people out of poverty are linked. Developing countries therefore need to have the means and capacity to implement actions on the ground to achieve their development objectives, whilst preserving the natural resources capital. Here, the EU plays an important role in catalysing investment and strengthening capacities, particularly in least developed countries.

    As regards policies, in its 2011 Communication ‘An Agenda for Change’, the EU pledged support for the promotion of cleaner technologies, energy and resource efficiency, and low-carbon development and the reduction of natural resource use, while contributing to improving the resilience of developing countries to the consequences of climate change.

    In its February 2013 Communication ‘A Decent Life for All’, the EU proposes a common approach to the follow-up to Rio+20 and the Millennium Development Goals. The elaboration of Sustainable Development Goals underline the need for actions towards an inclusive green economy.

    Recognising that the fight against climate change is increasingly being reflected in other policy areas, the Commission has proposed that at least 20 % of the 2014-20 budget should be spent on climate-relevant measures, including in development cooperation.

    In terms of support and implementation, the EU has put in place or contributed to several important initiatives. With regard to climate finance, one example is the Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund, an innovative global risk capital fund initiated by the EU in 2004 that allows for the mobilisation of private investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Both a development tool and a contribution to global efforts to fight climate change, it demonstrates the EU’s commitment to transfer clean technologies to developing countries. However, new and innovative finance mechanisms will be needed to achieve the long-term global target of mobilising USD 100 billion per year by 2020.

    Developing countries are already affected by climate change. The next step is to assess the risks and understand their potential impacts, whilst making this information ‘user-friendly’ for local communities. Interesting and valuable experiences exist that should be shared more widely. Finally, it is also important to understand that adaptation and mitigation to climate change are increasingly linked. Many actions can be beneficial to both adaptation and mitigation, whilst at the same time promoting sustainable development.