Countries of the South are far more vulnerable than industrial countries


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State failure is one of many causes of human and community vulnerability. Global policy-makers must therefore find ways of increasing people’s resilience to crises. The following article explores key approaches in rural regions.

Global Risks 2012, the latest report by the World Economic Forum, provides highly significant insights into the assessment of global risks. Out of a total of 50 risks covered in five categories, namely economic, environmental, geopolitical, societal and technological risks, several mentioned in the leading group are particularly relevant to development in the world’s rural regions. These risks are, specifically, water supply crises, food shortage crises, extreme volatility in energy and agriculture prices, failure of climate change adaptation, unsustainable population growth, and land mismanagement.

Risk and vulnerability

However, global risk assessments of this kind often obscure the fact that there are wide variations in vulnerability to this type of hazard around the world. A country such as Japan can cope with the impacts of an earthquake of a certain magnitude far more effectively than Haiti, long-term drought affects people in the Sahel much more severely than people in Australia, and the impacts of a sharp increase in food prices are felt far more acutely by the poor in developing countries than by the average supermarket customer in an affluent region of the world.

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