Over the past 30 years, storms, floods and droughts have increased threefold, according to the UNs International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. When extreme weather strikes, the poor are usually hit hardest. Disaster relief agencies try to pick up the pieces. But increasingly, governments and UN agencies are going one step further. Earth Report investigates how poor farmers in Honduras and fishing communities in Vietnam are working with disaster risk managers to strengthen natures defences against the violent effects of climate change.
The Aral Sea is notoriously regarded as the worlds worst man-made environmental disaster. This vast inland sea has halved in depth and lost 90 percent of its volume. Once thriving fishing ports are 50 kilometres from the sea and ships lie stranded in the salty desert. With World Bank help, the Kazakh government has built a massive 12-kilometre dam. Now water is returning to one half of the sea - but beyond the dam the other half remains dried up desert.
Aboard Mission Blue, scientist Greg Stone tells the story of how he helped the Republic of Kiribati create an enormous protected area in the middle of the Pacific -- protecting fish, sealife and the island nation itself.
Lao PDR is highly dependent on natural resources for its prosperity but faces mounting environmental challenges. In addition to natural resource based investments, the expansion of commercial agricultural plantations and the extraction of minerals puts further pressure on the land.
The recent increase in economic activities linked to the country's natural resources has also had an impact on environmental quality. Managing these natural resources is vital as environmental conditions are closely linked to the livelihoods, health and vulnerability of people living in poverty, particularly women and children.
The UN is working at all levels to address the environmental challenges facing the country. The Poverty Environment Initiative supports the mainstreaming of poverty-environmental concerns and opportunities into national level planning. The recently developed Fisheries and Aquaculture Law is a landmark step for Lao PDR in protecting a vital food source and people's livelihoods. Fish and fisheries play an important economic role contributing an estimated 13 percent of GDP.
Please read more about UNDP's work on MDGs in Lao PDR here.
ADB's Sohail Hasnie, Principal Energy Special for Southeast Asia, explains why a business as usual approach to climate change is no longer viable.
Robert Dobias, ADB's Senior Climate Change Advisor, discusses how climate change will increasingly cause typhoons, floods and a rise in sea levels leading to a slow but steady increase in migration in Asia.
Jo Yamagata, Deputy Director General of ADB's Private Sector Division, discusses a US$200 billion project to convert municipal waste into clean energy that will light homes and fuel businesses in China. China is currently the world's largest producer of industrial waste -- generating 148 millions tons a year and growing at 8-10% annually.
Arjun Thapan, ADB Director General for Southeast Asia, discusses the urgent need to address untreated wastewater, which is responsible of 1 in 4 child deaths in Asia. 90% of wastewater in Asia's urban centers is not treated. Solutions lie in investment in wastewater management.
During the last decades, Thailand has seen a remarkable economic growth. While it has resulted in increased prosperity and wellbeing for many, the environment has taken a great toll.
Today, large scale environmental degradation is threatening the livelihood of people who rely directly on natural resources.
Viktor Kaisiepo from First Peoples Worldwide after speaking out as a witness in the International Poverty Hearing in New York. He talks about his work with the environment and poverty and the need for governments to hear the voices of impoverished people.