How climate change is hitting world’s most vulnerable hardest

  • 23.9 million people were forced from their homes due to weather-related disasters in 2019 – nearly triple the 8.5 million people displaced by conflict in the same year
  • 140 million people could be forced to leave their homes by 2050
  • World Vision’s land restoration programme (FMNR) is used in over 26 countries and has restored more than15 million hectares of farmland in West Africa alone

A tsunami of climate-related disasters could wipe out decades of development progress, World Vision has warned, urging global leaders to respond to the climate change crisis. Almost 24 million people were forced from their homes because of weather-related disasters in 2019 and it is estimated that 140 million people could be forced from their homes by 2050, and 100 million could be at risk of extreme poverty, driven by climate change, by 2030.

Daniel Wordsworth, World Vision Australia CEO, said: “Climate change threatens all of us, but the world’s poorest people, who pollute the least, pay the highest price. Climate change limits access to food and clean water for millions of people living on the world’s margins, while making them more vulnerable to natural disasters and disease.”

World Vision laments the slow response by the international community in the face of a global crisis that is disproportionately impacting the world’s most vulnerable. It is calling on governments and corporations to support the global climate commitments established by the UN, Paris Agreement and Sendai Framework. This includes reducing global emissions, restoring deforested landscapes and building community resilience to both climate change and climate-related disasters.

“Climate change, ecological crises, land degradation and pollution have put all of us in grave danger,” says Tony Rinaudo, Senior Climate Action Advisor for World Vision and chief architect of Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) – an innovative and cost-effective process that has restored more than 15 million hectares of farmland in West Africa alone. This has resulted in 1-2 tons of CO2 per hectare being sequestered each year.

“Earth Day gives us an opportunity to pause and commit to a fresh start. We can reverse the damage done, to regreen barren land, grow more drought-resistant crops and apply green technologies. Studies have shown conflict reduced by 70 per cent as resource availability improved in Niger. But we need to act now before it is too late. Numerous experts endorse FMNR – putting it before donors, implementers and governments as a best-practice land restoration intervention. When you consider that FMNR was barely known to the world as recently as 2012 – today, few stakeholders in the land restoration space would not have heard of it.” Mr Rinaudo added.

World Vision is warning that immediate global investments in mitigation, adaptation and resilience-building are needed to stop millions being forced into life-threatening situations. The NGO has recently been confirmed as a supporting partner of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration and will continue to prioritise its work to support those most impacted by climate change and to build upon its work on reversing the impacts of climate change through FMNR. Its goal is to bring this innovative reforestation initiative to 100 countries.

“Decades of success in reducing poverty and hunger could be reversed without immediate and robust efforts to stop climate change, and to help people deal with the devastating impact it has already had. We call on the international community to act urgently in response to this very real crisis.” Mr Wordsworth said.

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