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World Resources Report: Leaders Will Have To Adapt To Climate Change

First Posted: 10/21/11 12:49 PM ET Updated: 12/21/11 05:12 AM ET

A new report released this week suggests that world governments need to prepare for the likelihood of climate change in the coming decades, especially in the face of more frequent and extreme weather events.

The 2010-2011 World Resources Report, entitled "Decision Making In A Changing Climate," is a joint effort of the World Resources Institute, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Bank.

According to the executive summary, the report is comprised of research and consultations in 30 countries, and aims to give policymakers, especially in developing countries, the tools to adapt to short and long-term climate change risks.

It noted, "Some countries are already making an impressive start in addressing these elements and accounting for climate risks. Others, however, are just beginning to grasp the enormity of the challenge -- even as they are dealing with the pressing demands for energy, jobs, education, and health care."

An ongoing water crisis on the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu may point to future global problems associated with rising sea levels. Tuvalu's low-lying islands have had to begin using desalinated water, as rising sea levels are partly to blame for contamination in precious groundwater supplies.

The report's authors contend that recognizing and adapting to climate change will be a multi-faceted endeavor. Olav Kjorven, director of the Bureau for Development Policy at UNDP, said, "Governments must start now to incorporate climate risks into plans and policies across all sectors, including urban development, coastal planning, agriculture, water and forestry management, and electricity production," reported Inter Press Service.

Looking at 2010, the World Resources Institute believes the number of weather-related natural disasters offers a glimpse of the sorts of challenges world leaders will face in the future. They cite research from insurance company Munich Re, which found that 90 percent of the world's 950 natural disasters in 2010 were weather-related. As the second-worst year for natural disasters since 1980, losses amounted to $130 billion in 2010.

Munich Re was named the greenest company in the world in Newsweek's 2011 Green Rankings.

This week, the world's largest investors group, representing 285 organizations and over $20 trillion in assets, claimed that current investment in low-carbon technology is too low and implored governments to take "urgent policy action to tackle climate change and stimulate investment in clean technology."

The president of a conservative environmental group recently told HuffPost he thinks the Republican Party has "lost its way" by diverging from the traditionally conservative and Republican values of conservation and environmental stewardship.

According to the final report, "Decision making in a changing climate requires addressing three different types of change to the Earth’s climate system: more frequent or intense climate extremes, heightened variability, and long-term change."

For more information and to read the full World Resources Report, click here.

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Filed by James Gerken  |