On Earth Day, world’s poorest still paying highest price of Climate Change

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Climate change, conflict and COVID are pushing millions more to the edge of survival, warns World Vision.
Wesley, 12, lost his family in 2019 when flash floods devastated his village in western Uganda. Over 17 people lost their lives, and about 800 people were displaced as a result of these floods. Climate change is means devastating events like this are becoming more frequent. Photo: Sophia Aloikin
(April 22, 2021)
To mark Earth Day, World Vision is calling on global leaders to fully respond to the climate change crisis as a tsunami of climate related disasters threaten to wipe out decades of development advances. The agency warns that the triple threat of climate change, conflict and COVID will push hundreds of millions of people into poverty and forced displacement without strong international commitments to mitigate impact, support adaptation and build resilience in the most at-risk communities. 

"Climate change threatens all of us, but the world's poorest, who pollute the least, pay the highest price," says Michael Messenger, President and CEO of World Vision Canada. "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. We will reverse decades of progress in reducing poverty and hunger without massive efforts to stop climate change."

Nearly 24 million people were forced from their homes because of weather-related disasters in 2019 and approximately 100 hundred million more people will be pushed into extreme poverty over the next decade because of climate change, according to the World Bank.

"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 in West Africa alone. "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. But we need to act now before it is too late."

World Vision believes that climate change is a justice issue that exacerbates inequalities, especially amongst women, girls and boys. World Vision is calling on governments, corporations, and the international community to ensure climate action targets the most vulnerable communities and to support the full realization of global climate commitments established by the UN's Decade of Ecosystem Restoration, 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. World Vision is calling for bold Canadian leadership to secure meaningful climate action at the Earth Day Summit.

World Vision is asking global citizens to:

  • Donate to Raw Hope. Donations reach children directly affected by climate-related disasters with emergency food, water and shelter while protecting their rights.
  • Sponsor a child. Child sponsorship improves community resilience and environmental sustainability through cost-effective solutions in at-risk communities around the world.
Media Resources:
  • World Vision Climate Action report: HERE
  • Details on Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration and other inexpensive environmental solutions: HERE
  • World Vision report linking climate change with violence against children: HERE
How climate change impacts the most vulnerable:
  • 23.9 million people were forced from their homes because of weather-related disasters in 2019, nearly triple the 8.5 million people displaced by conflict in the same year (Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre).
  • 11 of the 20 countries considered most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change have had humanitarian response plans each of the past seven years.
  • 8 worst ongoing global food crises are all closely linked to both conflict and climate shocks (UN).
  • Climate change could push more than 100 million additional people back into poverty by 2030. (World Bank).
  • Over 2 billion people around the world suffer food insecurity; 1.3 billion people live on degraded agricultural land; 60 million children live in areas of drought severity (International Organization for Migration).