Although climate change has cast a dark shadow on Western countries, it has hit the world’s poor hardest, and population forecasts predict an even gloomier picture, UN-HABITAT Executive Director Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka has warned.
Mrs. Tibaijuka made the remarks 20 October when she delivered the 55th Annual Beatty Memorial Lecture at the McGill University.
“Slum dwellers emit the least amount of greenhouse emission but are affected most by climate change. Who were the most affected by Hurricane Katrina?” she asked the audience.
UN-HABITAT’s recently published Global Report on Human Settlements 2007, she said, showed that urban slum dwellers, now numbering almost 1 billion globally, are the segment of the urban population most vulnerable to the rising incidence of disasters. The report showed that the number of natural disasters increased three-fold between 1975 and 2006 and that climate change has led to a 50 per cent increase in extreme weather events between the 1950s and 1990s.
“The report further shows that the greatest increase in the incidence of disasters in recent decades has occurred in Africa and Asia, and that the increasing vulnerability of cities to disasters is partly a result of the expansion of slum settlements into marginal land prone to flooding, land slides and pollution. Another significant finding of the report is that, of the 211 million people affected by natural disasters annually from 1991 to 2000, 98 per cent were living in developing countries. This is not surprising, given the large numbers of people living in unplanned and un-serviced urban slums,” she said.