Updated estimates of the impact of COVID-19 on global poverty
The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, which forced economies around the world to lock down last year, may have increased global poverty by 119 million-124 million, according to updated estimates by World Bank.
- The estimates are based on the forecasts from the Global Economic Prospects (GEP) made by the international financial institution in January 2021.
- The number of COVID-19-induced new poor is calculated as the difference between poverty projected with the pandemic and poverty projected without the pandemic.
- The estimated increase in global poverty in 2020 is truly unprecedented.
- Before COVID-19, the only other crisis-induced increase in the global number of poor in the past three decades was the Asian financial crisis, which increased extreme poverty by 18 million in 1997 and by another 47 million in 1998. In the two-decades since 1999, the number of people living in extreme poverty worldwide has fallen by more than 1 billion people. Part of this success in reducing poverty is set to be reversed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- For the first time in 20 years, poverty is likely to significantly increase. The COVID-19 pandemic is estimated to increase extreme poverty by between 88 million (baseline estimate) and 93 million (downside estimate) in 2020.
India’s adaptation action agenda
- Many parts of India have turned from being flood-prone to drought-prone.
- This has happened to Cuttack in Odisha, Guntur in Andhra Pradesh and Paschim Champaran in Bihar.
- Exactly the reverse has happened in Nagaur in Rajasthan, Surendranagar in Gujarat and Aurangabad in Maharashtra.
- These areas used to be drought-prone. Now they have become flood-prone.
- The next economic crisis could be set off by a series of climate shocks.
- Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (at 417 parts per million) are as high as they were four million years ago.
- India witnessed 250 extreme climate events between 1970-2005; but there have been 310 such since 2005 alone.
- Mitigating emissions has always tended to overshadow the climate agenda. But the Climate Adaptation Summit being planned for January 25-26 in the Netherlands can begin to reshape the conversation.
- The world needs a climate risk atlas.
- This atlas should connect past trends to future scenarios.
- India should make a detailed assessment of localised climate risks.
- Climate risks need to be communicated to households and communities.
- India should investing in cost-effective resilient infrastructure.
- India’s leadership of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) is noteworthy.
- The Climate Adaptation Summit can extend CDRI’s work on research.
This note is based on the “Commit to a decade of climate resilience“, published on The Hindustan Times.