Investing in measures to adapt to climate change would pay better returns than paying for emergency disaster relief, said global climate justice advocate Jan Egeland.
The Norwegian expert, who spoke at the Foreign Correspondents' Club on Friday, said he was disturbed that many developing Asian countries are prioritising development over climate change adaptation.
"We are burning so much oil and gas, stealing from our children's resources. The severe impact of climate change also stands to make many people vulnerable, but we still lack global governance on this issue," said Mr Egeland, who is now Europe director for Human Rights Watch.
He was speaking at the club's Brian Ward Memorial Lecture. Brian Ward is a founding father of the Bangkok-based Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre.
"When sea levels increase by 1cm, 30% of all rice-producing areas of the world will be submerged; and by that time the world population will have increased from seven to nine billion people.
"It will affect the global livelihood terribly," he said in a lecture titled "Disaster Risk Education and Climate Change Adaptation _ Areas Where Urgent Actions Are Needed."
Global actions are needed now, Mr Egeland said. The effects of this looming disaster will be suffered by the next generation, he said.
A former chairman of the UN's high-level taskforce for the global framework for climate services, he called for immediate investment, particularly in Asia, in climate change adaptation.
"Regional centres already exist, but we need capacity-building for individual members," he said.
"For example, Thailand and Vietnam should help Laos and Cambodia in improving the needed facilities for weather and climate services."
About the author
- Writer: Achara Ashayagachat