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88 richest people own more than 3.5 billion poor: experts

Feb 11, 2014

Despite enough food production globally, millions of people still do not have access to the bare minimum requirements, said, Nebojsa Nakicenovic, Deputy Director General, IIASA.

New Delhi: With climate change impacting the energy, water and food triangle, the challenge before the world now is to take an integrated view of the these three elements.

As the world gears up to devise future strategies for bringing about adequate production and consumption of energy, water and food, it needs to ensure that the critical inputs of energy and water are enough for expanding food production in the future.

Growth unto itself is not the purpose as the real idea is to provide essential services like food, energy and water to the ever burgeoning population, asserted experts dwelling on ‘The energy, water and food triangle’ at the 14th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit in New Delhi.

Nebojsa Nakicenovic,Deputy Director General, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), said that though food production had increased much more than the population growth, distribution is still exceedingly skewed. “The world population has increased seven- fold, but so has the food production. The biggest problem is that many people still do not have access to the bare minimum requirements,” he said.

Nakicenovic said that while the industrial revolution has led to unprecedented levels of affluence and production, it has also led to inequity. Talking about the disparities, he said that just 88 richest people own more wealth than 3.5 billion of the poorest lot.

“Around 0.9 billion go hungry every day and another 0.8 billion lack access to safe drinking water,” he stated. Over 30 years, investment in the energy sector needs to be doubled to meet the requirements, he said.

Adding to what Nakicenovic said, Jake Schmidt, International Climate Policy Director, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC),said that energy had a very big impact on water. “The way we use energy has a big impact on water consumption. Water is the cornerstone of survival, he said.

Petteri Taalas, Director General, Finnish Meteorological Institute, talked about the threats climate change will pose to the farming sector. Changes in precipitation patterns will have more adverse impact on agriculture, Taalas warned. “We have seen sea level rise by 27 cm. We have also seen more flooding in different parts of the world,” he said.

Taalas said that there was a gross correlation between carbon dioxide emissions and GDP growth. A larger middle class is consuming more resources leading to potential emission growth, he said. He also opposed the idea of using farmland for energy production, calling it irrelevant.

Dr Georges Valentis, Managing Director, Veolia Environment Institute, acknowledged that water pollution was still a widespread problem on the planet.

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