Copenhagen was a unique opportunity to turn the world’s course away from climate disaster, towards a safe future for all of us on this small planet. Massive global public mobilisation demanded it. But leaders of the major powers negotiated for their national interests, instead of safeguarding our shared destiny. In the closing hours of negotiations, world leaders drew up the Copenhagen Accord. It grabbed headlines, but offered no lifelines – and so may end up on the sidelines. The talks ended with little more than agreement to keep talking, offering just a dim beacon for the way forward.
For countries rich in minerals and hydrocarbons, such natural resources should provide an essential source of financing for development. Against all logic, however, it seems that in many cases exploitation of such resources is linked to poverty, inequality, poor public services, and stunted economic growth. This apparent paradox is known as the ‘resource curse’.
Much has been written about the wars in Afghanistan and the basic narrative of the conflict, in one form or another, has been repeated in countless books, academic articles and news reports. But the voices of ordinary Afghans are often absent from these accounts, and yet it is the Afghan people who are most affected by the violence.
To better understand how Afghans have experienced and understand the conflict, eight non governmental organisations operating in Afghanistan conducted research in 14 provinces across the country. This research focused on individual experiences of the past thirty years of conflict, perceptions of the current conflict and recommendations for alleviating the violence and addressing its root causes.
The research collected and compiled in Oxfam’s new joint report, “The Cost of War”, paints a grim picture of a country brought to its knees by 30 years of fighting. The survey reveals that seventy per cent of Afghans surveyed see poverty and unemployment as the major cause of the conflict in their country.
Worldwide, 1.7 billion small-scale farmers and pastoralists are highly vulnerable to climate change impacts. They live on marginal rural lands characterised by conditions such as low rainfall, sloping terrain, fragile soils, and poor market access, primarily in Africa and Asia. Such farmers are vulnerable because their farms depend directly on rainfall and temperature, yet they often have little savings and few alternative options if their crops fail or livestock die. Given existing hunger and looming climate change, donors and national governments must take immediate action to help vulnerable farmers build their resilience in order to improve their food security despite climate shocks.
The Pacific has huge potential and a richness of natural, social and human resources that should assure a bright future. However, in the short term the pacific's problems are mounting. The legacy of conflicts over recent years continues to affect countries, including Solomon Islands and Tonga, and Fiji is suffering a serious downturn as a result of the coup and declines in its sugar and clothing exports. The Pacific now sits with sub-Saharan Africa as the two regions in the world falling furthest behind in progress towards the Millennium Development Goals.
In July 2009 a team of Oxfam researchers travelled to three areas of Bolivia to take a snapshot of how poor families are experiencing the changing climate, and how they are adapting to it. The researchers also interviewed key government and international officials, social movements and NGO representatives. The main findings and recommendations are presented in this report.
Twenty-five years ago Ethiopia was struck by one of the worst famines in its history. An estimated one million people died and millions more suffered from extreme hunger and malnutrition. Today, millions in Ethiopia and across East Africa are facing severe food and water shortages after years of poor rains. It is estimated that drought costs Ethiopia US$1.1bn a year – almost eclipsing the total annual overseas assistance to the country.
In this report, published to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the Ethiopia famine, Oxfam argues international donors need to adopt a new approach to humanitarian disasters which focuses on preparing communities to prevent and deal with disasters such as drought before they strike, rather than relying mainly on short-term emergency relief, such as imported food aid.
What does the future hold for the poorest people who depend on agriculture for their livelihood and for the environment that sustains us? The subject is controversial. As Oxfam, both the allies we work with and the institutions we target espouse deeply-held visions about agriculture’s role in our society, whether as a process that binds us to the natural world and ensures self-sufficiency for the poorest communities, or as an economic sector that can drive industrialisation for the poorest countries. Global poverty will continue to be located in rural areas for at least another generation, although with significant variation by region. However, understanding the role that agriculture plays in the livelihoods of these poor communities, and its potential as a sector to reduce poverty levels, is more complex. Agriculture is certainly an important part of the mix of activities that sustain household economies, but has to be viewed in the context of increased multi-activity by poor households, deepening urban-rural linkages and heightened national and international out-migration.
Climate-related shocks are affecting the lives of millions of poor people with increasing frequency and severity. Without urgent action, recent development progress will stall – then go into reverse. It's time for the international community to make a new commitment to fund adaptation to climate change. These funds must be raised and managed in new ways as well as being additional to the promise to deliver 0.7 per cent of rich country income as aid.