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Global Problems Can be Solved


Students Investigate Intersection of Poverty, Climate Change

October 28, 2009



We no longer live in a world where global issues are isolated from one another. All one has to do is take a look at the eight Millennium Development Goals to realize that it’s impossible to achieve one goal without addressing another. For example, how can we reduce child mortality (goal 3) without combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases (goal 6) given that a child in Africa dies every 30 seconds from malaria? 

This fall students from more than 90 countries are addressing the reality of the world we live in and expanding their global mindset to tackle the intersection of poverty and climate change. For the past two years, the Global Debates has focused on several climate change issues - water rights, carbon emissions, action plans, obligation of developed nations and more. However, we cannot combat these issues apart from the impact that global warming has on international development and our ability to end extreme poverty.  

As one Global Debates participant from Bulgaria said, “Inevitably, poverty and climate change are strongly connected. The governments of developing countries are forced to choose between investing in either economic or environmental development. Unfortunately, their financial funds are limited, so environmentally friendly policies seem to have become a runner-up.  Let us not forget that poverty also means lack of information and resources. Once severe poverty is reduced, people from developing countries could grasp the opportunity to be active and contribute to the preservation of nature.”

Here are some sobering facts:

  • More than 2 billion people live without access to a reliable energy source.
  • Changing rainfall patterns impact agricultural production and lead to food shortages.
  • According to Red Cross, 96 percent of deaths caused by natural disasters have been in poor countries.
  • Developing nations have the least capacity to respond financially to climate change.
  • Without immediate action 50 years of development gains will be lost.

These facts are a part of the growing evidence that students will be referring to during their Global Debates activities this year. Through writing blogs on the UN’s response to climate change and poverty, and collaborating with elected leaders on the importance of a comprehensive climate treaty in Copenhagen, these students will once again be a part of the solution.