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Natural resources and climate change

Climate change could devastate agriculture, cause financial ruin and push the world’s poor deeper into poverty. ACIAR is helping people in developing countries to cope with the worst effects of climate change.

Developing countries are the most vulnerable to climate change, even though they are least responsible for it. The West has damaged the environment over the last two centuries, pumping carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, but is most immune to the effects of climate change. Poorest countries emit the least carbon dioxide, but are most affected by it.

The world’s poorest regions – Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia – will be worst hit.  They are the most vulnerable to severe weather and rising sea levels.  Heavy rains that lead to floods, intense hurricanes, and long, severe drought could devastate crops.  Rising sea levels could destroy island nations like Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Solomon Islands, even though they are some of the lowest emission producing countries in the world. Hotter temperatures and scarcer water could put more people at risk from malaria or diarrhoea, while pests and epidemics devastate crops. 

As food becomes scarce, rising prices will put more people in poverty.  The World Bank estimates that 100 million more people could be in poverty by 2030.  Competition for scarce resources would cause mass migration, famine and war.

We can end extreme poverty, even in the face of climate change – but doing so will require a concerted effort.

The world must work together to address this global problem.

Research, development and policy must be integrated to lessen climate change’s consequences for agriculture, natural resources and food security.

Farmers have always been vulnerable to extreme weather and variable climate.  Because climate change disproportionately affects the rural poor, helping poor people who depend on agriculture, fish or forests and whose livelihoods are most at risk is a priority.

ACIAR is helping smallholders in vulnerable, developing Indo-Pacific and African countries to mitigate and adapt to climate variability and change.

ACIAR is developing climate-resistant livestock and drought-resistant crops, and helping farmers to improve their water management and become more resilient to climate change through climate smart practices.

ACIAR’s focus is based on:

  • Prevention – developing more climate resilient farming systems
  • Preparedness – managing the risks that can’t be prevented
  • Responsiveness – responding to seasonal issues such as drought and to short-term disasters such as fires, cyclones or excess rainfall
  • Rehabilitation and recovery – minimising future damage

ACIAR is helping farmers to adopt management practices and to reduce their losses.