The Wrong Direction: Countries at Risk from Climate Change Face Shrinking Resiliency

Author: Joyce Coffee

In its latest stark report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change describes significant and worsening environmental risks to the world’s poorer countries.  Indeed, the situation is so severe in 11 countries that any amount of corporate investment right now isn’t likely to improve their situations should global shocks strike, including climate change.

The countries – Algeria, the Congo, Cuba, Ethiopia, Honduras, Libya, Madagascar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Syria and Venezuela – all rank below 100 on the  University of Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index, a measure of a country’s vulnerability to global challenges in combination with its readiness to improve resilience.

The critical issue for these countries remains their preparedness to accept investment in adaptation or resiliency. In countries such as Yemen, Syria, and Nepal, political instability and violence are trending downward, decreasing investment readiness.  In Venezuela, it’s the rule of law; in Nicaragua and Madagascar, it is a dearth of education opportunities. And in Libya, it’s the lack of a voice and accountability.

Many of these countries already have experienced weather extremes. Consider Syria’s drought that forced 800,000 farmers to migrate to the cities in recent years, or the unprecedented flooding in Nicaragua in 2013. Will they prove to be resilient to the next climate disruption?  It’s not likely.

They must focus on their governance, social systems and economic structures to turn their readiness trend around and increase the likelihood that they can attract private and public investments to help them endure their vulnerabilities to climate change.