Climate vulnerability and resilience

Pakistan faces the massive task of steering through environmental dangers while chasing its Sustainable Development Goals

Climate vulnerability and resilience


he world population is 8.1 billion as of Monday, March 11, according to the most recent United Nations estimates elaborated by World Meter. The world’s population continues to increase, with approximately 140 million babies born every year. The global population is projected to reach 8.5 billion people by 2030.

The experts maintain that poverty, inequality and continued urbanisation will cause growth to increase, particularly in countries in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia, where population growth is already much higher than the global average.

This growth has been driven largely by increasing numbers of people surviving to reproductive age, the slow increase in human lifespan, increasing urbanisation and accelerating migration. Major changes in the fertility rate have accompanied this growth. These trends will have far-reaching implications for generations to come.

The 2023 World Population Data Sheet (a ready reference of demographic and health indicators by country and region) published annually by the Population Research Bureau, provides the latest data on key population, health and environment indicators for major world regions and over 200 countries and territories. This year’s data sheet has a special focus on “climate vulnerability and resilience,” examining indicators such as the number of projected deaths due to temperature changes, food insecurity and the number of internally displaced people. As the effects of climate change intensify, including increasing global temperatures and extreme weather events, such as flooding, population data are significant in assessing exposure and vulnerability to climate risks.

The ability to adapt to climate change depends largely on the availability of natural resources, particularly water resources. Deforestation, fragmentation of ecosystems and pollution can increase a region’s ecological vulnerability to climate change.

The rate of climate change rushed alarmingly during 2011-2020, which was the warmest decade on record. Continued rising concentrations of greenhouse gases fuelled record land and ocean temperatures and a dramatic acceleration in ice melt and sea level rise, according to a new report from the World Meteorological Organisation. Population characteristics like age, gender and socioeconomic status are a few of the factors that make some people more vulnerable to these effects. Globally, there were 8.7 million internally displaced people due to disasters at the end of 2022. 69 percent of those living in low-income countries were experiencing moderate to severe food insecurity.

Climate resilience is about successfully coping with and managing the impacts of climate change while preventing those impacts from worsening. One way to achieve climate resilience is to cut the heat-trapping releases that drive climate change while adapting to the changes that are unavoidable and do so in ways that make the world more equitable and just. As 2023 closes as perhaps the hottest year on record, more people are experiencing impacts from climate change, which can worsen food insecurity, displace people from their homes and contribute to deaths.

Climate resilience is about successfully coping with and managing the impacts of climate change while preventing those impacts from worsening.

The global climate system will continue to change for centuries because of both past and future releases of greenhouse gases. Heat waves, floods and other impacts on ecosystems, human health and economy are likely to become more severe in the coming decades. Climate impact, risks and vulnerability assessments are used to identify the nature and magnitude of these impacts for natural systems and human society. Consequently, a wide range of methods and tools are applied, supported by relevant information from past observations and future scenarios of climate change, environmental conditions and socioeconomic factors.

In general, children and pregnant women, older adults, certain occupational groups, persons with disabilities and persons with chronic medical conditions are more vulnerable to health stressors, such as extreme heat, floods, poor air quality and other climate-related risk.

The 2023 Data Sheet indicates that there were 8.7 million IDPs due to disasters estimated at the end of 2022. This number was more than one million in Pakistan, 854,000 in Nigeria and 283,000 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Globally, 69 percent of the people living in low-income countries were affected by moderate to severe food insecurity. The percentage of the urban population living in slum households is increasing rapidly.

Despite its considerable distance from the Arctic region, Pakistan’s environmental landscape bears a significant imprint from the consequences of freezing warming. With a score of 87.83 out of 100 on the Climate Risk Index, the nation finds itself precariously located in the face of continuing climate threats. Pakistan faces the massive task of steering through these environmental dangers while chasing its Sustainable Development Goals.

Shedding light on this struggle, recent data from the 2023 Sustainable Development Report rates Pakistan with a score of 58.97, ranking it 128th out of 166 countries assessed on the SDG index. In Pakistan, these outcomes manifest as sensitive vulnerability to intensified flooding, extreme temperatures and drought. Such disruptions damage agriculture infrastructure and hinder education, making worse the challenges for vulnerable communities in Pakistan.

Agriculture plays a crucial role in Pakistan as most of its citizens are employed in this sector, which makes 37.54 percent of the workforce. In 2022, about 4 million acres of farmland were flooded and 800,000 cattle killed. As of March 2023, 1.8 million people were still surrounded by stagnant floodwater from the 2022 flood. This resulted in many farmers missing the winter season crop, leading to a decrease in agricultural output. This has resulted in food and water insecurity that affected more than 7 million people.

With information about populations’ exposure and vulnerability to the effects of climate change and their capacities to adapt when weather shocks occur, decision-makers can work across regions, nations and communities to strengthen the resilience of essential systems in ways that protect people’s livelihoods and well-being. Essential systems include emergency services, information and communications technology, the health system and other services.

The writer is a playwright and a freelance journalist. He can be reached at and his blogging site:

Climate vulnerability and resilience