As if armed conflict and economic downturn were not enough doom, climate change is likely to accelerate humanitarian crises around the world in 2023. Poverty is expected to affect 8.4 to 9.1 million people in Pakistan, with 7.6 million facing food insecurity. If these figures aren’t frightening enough, consider that approximately 17 million women and children are at risk of preventable disease, and 640,000 women and girls are at risk of gender-based violence.
The World Bank hinted at all of this in a recent report shared with Pakistani authorities. Without a doubt, climate change has played a significant role in this, emerging as a significant factor in pushing people into greater misery. According to the Bank, the 2022 floods have hampered Pakistan’s progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 2022 superfloods flooded one-third of the country, killing 1,700 people.
Despite being the most affected by climate change, Pakistan contributes to global carbon emissions in negligible amounts. Furthermore, climate change-related events such as the 2022 floods, as well as the country’s growing economic disparities, are not only increasing poverty but also bringing with them increased food insecurity, as highlighted by the World Bank.
Food security, according to the FAO, is “when all people have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life at all times.” Needless to say, Pakistan does not meet any of the criteria outlined in this definition. In the past, the FAO has stressed the importance of regional cooperation in order to improve agricultural outcomes and share hunger-fighting experiences.
The need for agricultural collaboration should go hand in hand with the agenda of poverty reduction. There is little chance of addressing hunger if the distribution of wealth does not improve. The region continues to produce distributive inequalities that rob urban and rural populations of food. This must be changed immediately through concentrated effort.
There is also a need for an emergency response to climate change and its consequences for Pakistanis. The only way forward is to ensure sustainable development while also confronting the climate-change threat head on by collaborating with other countries in the boat and pressing the Global North to assist us in dealing with the consequences of their actions. According to the World Bank, the government of Pakistan must seriously consider ways to improve the people’s lot by investing in jobs and working to recover and rebuild critical assets, services, and infrastructure.
GDP is typically used by countries to justify economic growth. However, impressive statistics do not always reflect the true state of economies. Various surveys and reports have already highlighted the wide disparities that exist around the world. The recently released World Inequality Report 2022 has refocused policymakers’ attention on widespread inequalities, including income inequality, gender inequality, carbon inequality, and wealth inequality.
According to the report, 50% of the world’s population controls only 2% of its wealth, while the top 10% control 76%. The same is true for income, with 50% receiving 8.5% and 10% receiving 2.0%. In terms of gender, women make up 35% of the global labour force, while men make up 55%.
In terms of carbon emissions, the 10% wealthiest people on the planet produce 48% of them. According to the report, colonialism contributed to the emergence of this inequality by increasing social spending. Between 1910 and 1980, inequality decreased as the world implemented progressive taxation and other measures aimed at reducing inequality. However, it appears that all progress has been reversed.