One planet to share: Sustaining human progress in a changing climate

14 May 2012

Asia-Pacific not only has many of the world’s most climate-exposed territories, it is also home to millions of the most vulnerable people. The unprecedented pace and scale of human activities have been transforming the natural environment and contributing to climate change. Emissions cross borders, and so do some of the most affected natural systems, such as glaciers, coral reefs and mangroves. Some of these natural systems that act as natural buffers to the impacts of climate change are increasingly at risk of deterioration and destruction, posing a serious challenge to people’s lives in the region. While the most vulnerable people have contributed little to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, they will face some of the most serious consequences. They are not just highly exposed and sensitive to climate events, but also lack adequate adaptive capacity. Unlike the developed countries of today, in a time of climate change, growing first and cleaning up later is no longer an option. Developing nations must grow, support climate resilience, especially among vulnerable populations, and shift to lowercarbon pathways to sustain hard-won human development gains attained in the past decades.