International development ‘needs radical change’

International development policies need to be radically changed to address the challenge of climate change in poor countries, a leading expert has said.

Professor Kate Brown, a leading specialist in climate change and international development at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, said current policies adopted by governments in the developed world were not enough to reduce poverty.

Long term solutions that are tailored to the needs of specific countries and their particular changing climates are needed, she said.

“Mainstreaming climate change into international development thinking is not going to urgently help poor people in poor countries,” Professor Brown said.

“Regions of the world need fundamentally different approaches if meaningful progress is to be made in poverty reduction in the face of climate change.”

The Tyndall Centre has been carrying out research in Burkina Faso, one of the world’s poorest countries, which suffers severe flood and drought and part of its natural climate variability and recent hikes in food prices and living costs have also caused unrest.

Ministers and local organisations believe climate change is already having an impact on these problems, and many predict it could cause mass migration and hunger in the future.

Professor Brown said: “Acknowledging climate change as simply another constraint to the alleviation of global poverty, alongside poor healthcare, education, poor governance and infrastructure is not enough to deal with it.

“It requires a very different set of approaches to those currently adopted by international development organisations and donors.

“We need to re-think whether economic growth is an effective driver of development and target different sectors of societies.”

Professor Brown was speaking at a Government-sponsored Policy Forum on international development policies in the face of climate change at the University of Greenwich, in London.

Kate Martin

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie