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Human Development Report 2007/2008
Fighting climate change: Human solidarity in a divided world


Foreword, Acknowledgments and Contents

What we do today about climate change has consequences that will last a century or more. The part of that change that is due to greenhouse gas emissions is not reversible in the foreseeable future. The heat trapping gases we send into the atmosphere in 2008 will stay there until 2108 and beyond. We are therefore making choices today that will affect our own lives, but even more so the lives of our children and grandchildren. This makes climate change different and more difficult than other policy challenges.

Overview - Fighting climate change: human solidarity in a divided world
“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. We are faced now with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fi erce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late…We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: Too late.” Martin Luther King Jr. ‘Where do we go from here: chaos or community’, 1968

Chapter 1 - The 21st Century climate challenge

“One generation plants a tree; the next generation gets the shade.” (Chinese Proverb)
“You already know enough. So do I. It is not knowledge we lack. What is missing is the courage to understand what we know and to draw conclusions.” (Sven Lindqvist)

Easter Island in the Pacific Ocean is one of the most remote locations on Earth. The gigantic stone statues located in the Rono Raraku volcanic crater are all that remain of what was a complex civilization. That civilization disappeared because of the over-exploitation of environmental resources. Competition between rival clans led to rapid deforestation, soil erosion and the destruction of bird populations, undermining the food and agricultural systems that sustained human life. The warning signs of impending destruction were picked up too late to avert collapse.

Chapter 2 - Climate shocks: risk and vulnerability in an unequal world

“The countries most vulnerable are least able to protect themselves. They also contribute least to the global emissions of greenhouse gases. Without action they will pay a high price for the actions of others.” (Kofi Annan)
“Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.” (Nelson Mandela)

Climate science deals in measurement. Emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are weighed in tonnes and gigatonnes. Concentrations of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere are monitored in parts per million (ppm). Confronted with the data, it is easy to lose sight of the human face of the people who are most vulnerable to climate change—people such as those quoted above.
The human face of climate change cannot be captured and packaged in statistics. Many of the current impacts are impossible to separate from wider pressures. Others will happen in the future. There is uncertainty about the location, timing and magnitude of these impacts. However, uncertainty is not a cause for complacency. We know that climate-related risks are a major cause of human suffering, poverty and diminished opportunity. We know that climate change is implicated. And we know that the threat will intensify over time. In chapter 1 we identify catastrophic future risks for the whole of humanity as one of the most powerful grounds for urgent action in tackling climate change. In this chapter we focus on a more immediate potential catastrophe: the prospect of large-scale human development reversals in the world’s poorest countries.

Chapter 3 - Avoiding dangerous climate change: strategies for mitigation

“We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.” (Albert Einstein)
“Speed is irrelevant if you are going in the wrong direction.” (Mahatma Gandhi)
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” (Helen Keller)

Climate change is an immense, long-term and global challenge that raises difficult questions about justice and human rights, both within and across generations. Humanity’s ability to address these questions is a test of our capacity to manage the consequences of our own actions. Dangerous climate change is a threat, not a pre-ordained fact of life. We can choose to confront and eliminate that threat, or we can choose to let it evolve into a fully fledged crisis for poverty reduction and for future generations.

Chapter 4 - Adapting to the inevitable: national action and international cooperation

“If you are neutral in a situation of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” (Archbishop Desmond Tutu)
“An injustice committed against anyone is a threat to everyone.” (Montesquieu)

The village of Maasbommel on the banks of the River Maas in Zeeland, southern Netherlands, is preparing for climate change. Like most of the Netherlands, this is a low-lying area at risk from rising sea levels and rivers swollen by rain. The landscape is dominated by water—and by the networks of dykes that regulate its flow. Located on the Maasbommel waterfront are 37 homes with a distinctive feature: they can float on water. Fixed to large steel stilts that are sunk into the river bed, the hollow foundations of the homes act like the hull of a ship, buoying the structure above water in the event of a flood. The floating homes of Maasbommel offer a case study in how one part of the developed world is adapting to the increased risks of flooding that will come with climate change.

Notes, Bibliographical notes, Bibliography
Readers guide and notes to tables - Acronyms and abbreviations
Human Development Indicators

Monitoring human development: enlarging people’s choices …
1 Human development index
1a Basic indicators for other UN member states
2 Human development index trends
3 Human and income poverty: developing countries
4 Human and income poverty: OECD countries, Central and Eastern Europe and the CIS
… to lead a long and healthy life …
Demographic trends
6 Commitment to health: resources, access and services
7 Water, sanitation and nutritional status
8 Inequalities in maternal and child health
9 Leading global health crises and risks
10 Survival: progress and setbacks
… to acquire knowledge …
Commitment to education: public spending
12 Literacy and enrolment
13 Technology: diffusion and creation
… to have access to the resources needed for a decent standard of living …
Economic performance
15 Inequality in income or expenditure
16 Structure of trade
17 OECD-DAC country expenditures on aid
18 Flows of aid, private capital and debt
19 Priorities in public spending
20 Unemployment in OECD countries
21 Unemployment and informal sector work in non-OECD countries
… while preserving it for future generations …
Energy and the environment
23 Energy sources
24 Carbon dioxide emissions and stocks
25 Status of major international environmental treaties
… protecting personal security …
Refugees and armaments
27 Crime and justice
… and achieving equality for all women and men
Gender-related development index
29 Gender empowerment measure
30 Gender inequality in education
31 Gender inequality in economic activity
32 Gender, work and time allocation
33 Women’s political participation
Human and labour rights instruments
Status of major international human rights instruments
35 Status of fundamental labour rights conventions

Technical note 1 - Technical note 2 - Definitions of statistical terms - Statistical references - Classification of countries - Index to indicators
Index to Millennium Development Goal indicators in the HDR indicator tables


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Background papers

The national and regional reports

Human Development Reports (HDR) at the regional, national and sub-national levels take the human development approach to the regional or country level and are prepared and owned by regional and national teams. They both feed into and draw upon the data and analysis of the global Report. Over 600 regional, national and sub-national reports have been produced so far in over 140 countries.
National reports place human development at the forefront of the national political agenda. They are tools for policy analysis reflecting people's priorities, strengthening national capacities, engaging national partners, identifying inequities and measuring progress. As instruments for measuring human progress and triggering action for change, regional reports promote regional partnerships for influencing change, and addressing region-specific human development approaches to human rights, poverty, education, economic reform, HIV/AIDS, and globalization.
As policy advocacy documents, they have introduced the human development concept into national policy dialogues — not only through human development indicators and policy recommendations, but also through the country-led and country-owned process of consultation, research and report writing.
As advocacy tools designed to appeal to a wide audience, the reports can spur public debates and mobilize support for action and change. They have helped to articulate people’s perceptions and priorities, and have served as a source of alternate policy opinion for development planning across varied themes.

Background Papers:

Gaye, Amie - 2007
Access to Energy and Human Development

Access to modern energy services is fundamental to fulfilling basic social needs, driving economic growth and fueling human development. This is because energy services have an effect on productivity, health, education, safe water and communication services. Modern services such as electricity, natural gas, modern cooking fuel and mechanical power are necessary for improved health and education, better access to information and agricultural productivity.
There are wide variations between energy consumption of developed and developing countries, and between the rich and poor within countries, with attendant variations in human development. Furthermore, the way in which energy is generated, distributed and consumed affects the local, regional and global environment with serious implications for poor people’s livelihood strategies and human development prospects1. This paper attempts to examine the linkages between energy services and human development in developing countries. It does so by comparing modern energy use in developed and developing countries and argues that a threshold of modern energy is required to achieve growth and improvement in human development. The paper also assesses the effect of fossil fuel use on greenhouse gas emissions and developing countries’ capacity to adapt to climate change. It discusses the dual challenge of mitigating climate change and meeting the energy demands of developing countries in a sustainable way.

Kelkar, Ulka, and Suruchi Bhadwal
- 2007
South Asian Regional Study on Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation: Implications for Human Development

It is now increasingly realised that even with the currently agreed regime of emissions control, concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHG) are likely to rise over the next few decades and over the millennia. Climate change is likely to threaten all life forms on earth with the extent of vulnerability varying across regions and populations within regions. The impacts however are likely to fall disproportionately upon developing countries, in particular, the poor living within them. Reduced capacities to be able to effectively respond to increased climatic variability and change in the climate exacerbates vulnerabilities.
Changes in temperature and precipitation patterns and numerous other factors will impact both natural and human systems. Climate sensitive sectors like agriculture, forestry, water resources and coastal regions, and, human systems including human health, human settlements, industry and energy sectors will be drastically affected (IPCC 2001).

Volpi, Giulio
Climate Mitigation, Deforestation and Human Development in Brazil

Climate change mitigation in developing countries is a growing priority for many governments. Much of the current research into this area concentrates on emissions from industry and households. However, in many countries changing land use patterns drives carbon flows into the atmosphere. This Thematic Paper for the UNDP Human Development Report 2007 focuses on tropical deforestation as a major source of rising carbon emissions and wider human development problems in the Brazilian Amazon–the largest area of tropical forests in the world. Consistently with the Terms of Reference, this paper cover five broad themes: (i) the scale, pace and location of deforestation; (ii) an analysis of the factors driving deforestation, including public policies; (iii) how deforestation is contributing to carbon emissions; (iv) the human development effects of deforestation, and; (v) what can be done to address the problem.

Chaudhry, Peter, and Greet Ruysschaert
Climate Change and Human Development in Viet Nam [224 KB]
Viet Nam is a low-income country, but has recently made spectacular progress in terms of both economic growth and poverty reduction. The official poverty rate has fallen from 58 percent in 1993, to 19.5 percent in 2004 (VASS 2006). Strong economic growth is likely to continue following recent accession to the World Trade Organisation, with increased international trade and direct foreign investment reinforcing Viet Nam’s progress towards middle-income country status. As Viet Nam continues to be transformed from a highly centralised command economy, to a more market based one, the urgent challenge is to ensure that the relatively equitable growth that has taken place to date is sustained. Inequality is already increasing, with growth and poverty reduction rates in remote areas markedly lower than those in and around the growth poles of Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, and this may have significant long term consequences for Viet Nam’s future ability to respond collectively to climate related vulnerabilities.

Climate Change and Human Development in Africa: Assessing the Risks and Vulnerability of Climate Change in Kenya, Malawi and Ethiopia [2,305 KB]
Human induced climate change emanating largely from increase in the concentration greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and sustainable development are two closely related challenges facing human kind in the 21st century. The challenges associated with the devastating effects of climate change has been addressed by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which calls for stabilization of the Greenhouse gases (GHGs) emissions in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent ‘dangerous anthropogenic interference’ with climate system, with a time frame sufficient to allow ecosystems and the environment as a whole to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened, and enable economic development to proceed in sustainable manner.

Carvajal, Liliana
Impacts of Climate Change on Human Development [663 KB]
Scientific research throughout the past decades has demonstrated how climatic changes have important impacts on the livelihoods of people around the world. For most of developing countries their level of structural and social vulnerability, are a dangerous combination and a formula for impacts of higher magnitude. Therefore, climatic phenomenon such as tropical storms, floods and droughts, more often become tragedies in these countries. This paper analyzes the impacts of such phenomenon in the human development of people across the world. Some of the climate change related issues analyzed in this parte are: Droughts and water security, tropical cyclones and storms, rising tides, warming seas, coral bleaching, fish stocks, melting glaciers, heat waves and cold spells and the impact on human health are discussed in this paper along with the differentiated impact on countries in various levels human development is also discussed

Arroyo, Vicki, and Peter Linguiti
Current Directions in the Climate Change Debate in the United States [486 KB]
Barker, Terry, and Katie Jenkins
The Costs of Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change: Estimates Derived from a Meta-Analysis of the Literature [265 KB]
Boykoff, Maxwell T, and J. Timmons Roberts
Media Coverage of Climate Change: Current Trends, Strengths, Weaknesses [578 KB]
de la Fuente, Alejandro, and Ricardo Fuentes
The Impact of Natural Disasters on Children Morbidity in Rural Mexico [211 KB]
Helm, Dieter - 2007
Climate change: Sustainable growth, markets, and institutions

Over the last decade, climate change has moved from a peripheral policy issue to centre stage, and from the narrow confines of scientific research to the stuff of everyday politics. Few now deny that climate change is taking place, and few deny that the causes are in large measure anthropological. The debate now has moved on from the question of whether climate change is occurring to how it can be tackled.
It is perhaps not surprising that politicians’ desire to show leadership by signing up to ambitious targets has not been matched by much by way of supporting analysis of the mechanisms and policy instruments to achieve them, and in particular the implications for energy and transport systems.
Part of that lack of detailed engagement with the design of policy is a consequence of a serious underestimation of the scale of the changes required and the costs of achieving them. In this respect, perhaps the most worrying aspect has been the readiness of political leaders to take at face value the conclusion of the Stern Report (Stern 2006) that the costs of mitigation policies may be as low as 1% GDP (or perhaps even less), and therefore the comforting implication that people may not have to adapt much of their lifestyles in order for the problem to be addressed. Current lifestyles and patterns of consumption may need to adjust at the margin, but the 1% challenge is not likely to require a significant...

Henderson, Caspar
Carbon Budget—the agenda for mitigation: Australia, Canada, the European Union and Japan [494 KB]
O’Brien, Karen, and Robin Leichenko
Human Security, Vulnerability and Sustainable Adaptation [251 KB]
Osbahr, Henny
Building resilience: Adaptation mechanisms and mainstreaming for the poor [252KB]
Perelet, Renat
Central Asia: Background Paper on Climate Change [764 KB]
Perelet, Renat, Serguey Pegov and Mikhail Yulkin
Climate Change: Russia Country Paper [425 KB]
Rahman, A. Atiq, Mozaharul Alam, Sarder Shafiqul Alam, Md. Rabi Uzzaman, Mariam Rashid and Golam Rabbani - 2007
Risks, Vulnerability and Adaptation in Bangladesh

Climate change is one of the greatest threats to mankind in the twenty first century. Climate change is a complex, multifaceted, multidimensional, long-term, slow onset phenomenon with enormous impacts that touches many aspects of human society including most of its production-consumption processes. Further the impacts of climate change are likely to enhance the vulnerability of many of the societies and communities, particularly those are already vulnerable to climate variability as well as lack of development. Climate change is likely to threaten many development investments and efforts. Besides, the risks of climate variability are likely to be accentuated manifolds by the ensuing and extended climate change. For example, food security, water security and energy security are key elements of development. These combined with health and social securities and increments in freedoms contribute to the development of individuals and communities. The impacts of climate change are likely to impede the process of achieving those securities in many affected communities.

Reid, Hannah, and Saleemul Huq
International and National Mechanisms and Politics of Adaptation: An Agenda for Reform [183 KB]
Seck, Papa
Links between Natural Disasters, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Risk Reduction: A Critical Perspective [342 KB]
Watson, Jim, Gordon MacKerron, David Ockwell and Tao Wang
Technology and carbon mitigation in developing countries: Are cleaner coal technologies a viable option? [361 KB]
Thematic Papers:

Brown, Oli
Climate change and forced migration: Observations, projections and implications [303 KB]
Conceição, Pedro, Yanchun Zhang and Romina Bandura
Brief on Discounting in the Context of Climate Change Economics [396 KB]
Conde, Cecilia, Sergio Saldaña, and Víctor Magaña
Thematic Regional Paper: Latin America [264 KB]
de Buen, Odón
Decarbonizing Growth in Mexico [175 KB]
de la Fuente, Alejandro
Private and Public Responses to Climate Shocks [297 KB]
de la Fuente, Alejandro
Climate Shocks and their Impact on Assets [244 KB]
Dobie, Philip, Barry Shapiro, Patrick Webb and Mark Winslow
How do Poor People Adapt to Weather Variability and Natural Disasters Today? [480 KB]
Khoday, Kishan
Climate Change and the Right to Development: Himalayan Glacial Melting and the Future of Development on the Tibetan Plateau [616 KB]
Krznaric, Roman
Food coupons and bald mountains: What the history of resource scarcity can teach us about tackling climate change [360 KB]
Krznaric, Roman
For God’s Sake, Do Something!: How Religions Can Find Unexpected Unity Around Climate Change [318 KB]
Kuonqui, Christopher. "Responding to Clear and Present Dangers: A New Manhattan Project for Climate Change? [54 KB]
Leiserowitz, Anthony
Public Perception, Opinion and Understanding of Climate Change: Current Patterns, Trends and Limitations [4,866 KB]
Li, Junfeng
Mitigation Country Study: China [248 KB]
Mathur, Ritu, and Preety Bhandari
Living Within a Carbon Budget: The Agenda for Mitigation [391 KB]
Matus Kramer, Arnoldo
Adaptation to Climate Change in Poverty Reduction Strategies [129 KB]
Menon, Roshni
Famine in Malawi: Causes and Consequences [164 KB]
Newell, Peter
The Kyoto Protocol and Beyond: The World After 2012 [188 KB]
Tolan, Sandy
Coverage of Climate Change in Chinese Media [69 KB]
Winkler, Harald, and Andrew Marquard
Energy Development and Climate Change: Decarbonising Growth in South Africa [270 KB]
Yue, Li, Lin Erda and Li Yan
Impacts of, and Vulnerability and Adaptation to, Climate Change in Water Resources and Agricultural Sectors in China [431 KB]
Issue Notes

Arredondo Brun, Juan Carlos
Adapting to Impacts of Climate Change on Water Supply in Mexico City [1,006 KB]
Bambaige, Albertina. "National Adaptation Strategies to Climate Change Impacts: A Case Study of Mozambique [344 KB]
Birch, Isobel, and Richard Grahn
Pastoralism: Managing Multiple Stressors and the Threat of Climate Variability and Change [130 KB]
Canales Davila, Caridad, and Alberto Carillo Pineda
Spain Country Study [98 KB]
Cornejo, Pilar
Ecuador Case Study: Climate Change Impact on Fisheries [793 KB]
Czisch, Gregor, and Jürgen Schmid
Mitigation Country Study for Germany [165 KB]
Donner, Simon D.
Canada Country Study [93 KB]
Lemos, Maria Carmen
Drought, Governance and Adaptive Capacity in North East Brazil: A Case Study of Ceará [100 KB]
Meinshausen, Malte
Stylized Emission Path [703 KB]
Nangoma, Everhart
National Adaptation Strategy to Climate Change Impacts: A Case Study of Malawi [81 KB]
Nguyen, Huu Ninh
Flooding in Mekong River Delta, Viet Nam [705 KB]
Orindi, Victor A., Anthony Nyong and Mario Herrero
Pastoral Livelihood Adaptation to Drought and Institutional Interventions in Kenya [338 KB]
Painter, James
Deglaciation in the Andean Region [240 KB]
Pederson, Peter D.
Japan : Country Study [448 KB]
Regmi, Bimal R., and A. Adhikari
Country Case Study: Nepal [228 KB]
Salem, Boshra
Sustainable Management of the North African Marginal Drylands [172 KB]
Seck, Papa. "The Rural Energy Challenge in Senegal: A Mission Report [98 KB]
Sullivan, Rory
Australia Country Study [176 KB]
Trigoso Rubio, Erika
Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation in Peru: The Case of Puno and Piura [335 KB]

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You can access statistical data from the Human Development Report (HDR) and resources to help you better understand this data. You will also find helpful information about the human development index (HDI) and other indices, links to other background materials, data resources and on-going debates and discussions on human development statistics
Human Development statistical tools

Explore the world through  animations and various online tools that transform the data behind the concept of Human Development into intuitive visual presentations. HDI calculators, animated graphs and a statistical tables building application are  available

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