Climate change taking "largest toll" on the world's poor

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Flooding in Cap-Haïtien, Haiti. UN Photo/Logan Abassi

Climate change is taking its "largest toll" on the world's poor, and "further aggravates" existing inequalities according to a senior UN official working on economic development.

Lenni Montiel was speaking at the launch of the World Economic and Social Survey 2016.

Matthew Wells reports.

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.

But the report also suggests that some governments have been negligent in not closing the gap between rich and poor enough, putting their own people in harm's way.

Mr Montiel, who is the Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) said the evidence was becoming incontrovertible.

"Climate change is taking the largest toll on poor and vulnerable people. Resilience to climate change cannot be achieved and sustainable development cannot be reached, without removing the underlying inequalities that keep specific groups of people disproportionately exposed and vulnerable."

In the past 20 years, 4.2 billion people have been affected by weather-related disasters, "including a significant loss of lives" according to the report.

Low-income countries have suffered the most, with economic costs estimated at 5 per cent of national wealth, or GDP.

In his contribution to the report, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that "we have not time to waste, and a great deal to gain, when it comes to addressing the socioeconomic inequalities that deepen poverty, and leave people behind."

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1'19"

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