It is a great pleasure for me to join the GCSP as an Executive-in-Residence. For the past 7 years I have been the Secretary General of CARE International, one of the world’s largest humanitarian relief and development organisations. CARE ‘s work in over 70 less developed countries around the world—including conflict-affected Fragile States -- is hugely important, albeit at times extraordinarily stressful and challenging.
GCSP has been a haven for me to take stock of the key trends affecting development and humanitarian action, to think deeply about their implications and to discuss policy responses with a diverse range of GCSP Fellows, staff and other colleagues from a wide cross-section of disciplines.
The trend of greatest concern to me is global warming. It is the overarching, existential threat of our time. We are already seeing significant humanitarian impacts in many of the countries in which CARE operates. Scientists have documented that there has been an explosion of extreme weather in recent decades when compared to the decades of the 1950s, 60s and 70s. 10% of the planet is now experiencing extreme weather at any given time compared to only 0.1-0.2% previously. This increase is the consequence of only 0.7 degrees of global warming, but we are currently on course for over 4 degrees of warming. It doesn’t take much imagination to appreciate the implications.
In the absence of vigorous political action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, climate change will cause enormous death and destruction, reverse decades of development progress and, scientists estimate, it will wipeout up to one-fourth of all plant and animal species on the planet.
Marginalised and poor communities in developing countries will be the most affected by global warming as a consequence of their vulnerability, lack of resources and denial of rights.
This is an enormous injustice given that these communities have contributed least to the problem.
My research is focusing on the links between climate change and food insecurity, water scarcity and conflict as well as on the role of civil society in supporting efforts to mitigate climate change and to help poor countries to adapt to its consequences.