The report shows that governments could address the root causes of inequalities and build climate change resilience. But it suggests that governments have been negligent in not closing the gap between rich and poor, putting their own people in harms way.
The report, entitled Climate Change Resilience - an Opportunity for Reducing Inequalities, finds that governments can play a significant role in reducing the risks faced by the most vulnerable, as climate change creates more extreme weather across the world.
The report shows that governments could address the root causes of inequalities and build climate change resilience. But it suggests that governments have been negligent in not closing the gap between rich and poor, putting their own people in harm's way.
"While there is considerable anecdotal evidence that the poor and the vulnerable suffer greater harm from climate-related disasters, the report determined that much of the harm is not by accident, but that it is due to the failure of governments to close the development gaps that leave large population groups at risk," it reads.
In the past 20 years, 4.2 billion people have been affected by weather-related disasters, including a significant loss of lives. Developing countries are the most affected by climate change impacts. Low-income countries suffered the greatest losses, including economic costs estimated at 5 per cent of their national wealth.
Lenni Montiel, the Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) said the evidence was becoming incontrovertible.
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The report argues that while climate adaptation and resilience are overshadowed by mitigation in climate discussions, they are vital for addressing climate change and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
Families living in poverty systematically occupy the least desirable land to damage from climate hazards, such as mud slides, periods of abnormally hot water, water contamination and flooding. Climate change has the potential to worsen their situation and thereby worsen pre-existent inequalities.
Looking ahead, the report recommends the use of improved access to climate projections, modern information and communications technologies, and geographical information systems to strengthen national capacity to assess impacts of climate hazards and policy options statistically.
The report voices a concern that international resources to support climate change resilience are insufficient. At last year's Paris climate conference, COP21, countries committed to setting a goal of at least US$100 billion per year for climate change mitigation and adaptation activities in developing countries.
However, adaptation costs alone range from $70 billion to $100 billion per year by 2050 in the developing countries and these figures are likely to underestimate real costs.