Observable trends of ongoing climate change and current projections indicate increasingly severe negative impacts on all countries, with the most severe impacts disproportionately affecting the poorest countries with the weakest capacity for climate resilience. Equally, within countries, climate change is disproportionately affecting the poor and vulnerable in society. The projected impacts pose a serious threat to the achievement and sustainability of the Millennium Development Goals in developing countries and the effective enjoyment of human rights in both developed and developing countries.

Wide ranging implications are expected for communities in terms of increased water stress, food insecurity, abrupt changes in population dynamics, vulnerability of human settlements, livelihoods and society as a whole, as well as major negative repercussions on the health status of millions of people. A probable result of climate-induced disruption on a large-scale is an acceleration of human displacement resulting in increased competition for land, resources and housing with attendant unrest in both urban and rural settings, within and between countries. Africa, Small Island Developing States and Asian and African mega deltas are likely to be particularly affected. People living in poorly constructed settlements in high risk areas will increasingly be at the mercy of extreme weather events.

It is ultimately the human dimensions of climate change and the consequences for individuals, especially the most vulnerable around the world that mobilize us all to action to find sustainable solutions. The international community is faced with an urgent need to develop and implement ambitious programmes to respond to what the UN Secretary-General has called “the defining challenge of our times.”

Climate change presents an unprecedented challenge – but also an opportunity. An opportunity to create a new development paradigm that links policy setting with investments, as well as an opportunity for development practitioners, donors, and developing countries to !do development differently", so that climate change considerations are built right into the foundations of plans to reach the MDGs and other development goals. Addressing climate change presents a new opportunity for new investment, enterprise development, decent job creation and higher incomes. Ambitious climate policy that addresses the underlying causes of climate change can provide the basis for future sustainable growth.