14.5 Adaptation: Policy and Institutional Context
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UN, 1948) affirms
"the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being
- including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social
Collective international action is required to ensure that dangerous anthropogenic
interference with global climate does not worsen the plight of vulnerable populations.
Many of the world's poorest countries are currently obliged to divert resources
from essential social services to debt repayments. Reducing those international
debt repayments is likely to increase health spending in some countries, and
initiatives like the IMF/World Bank Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative
could be extended (Oxfam, 1998). The adverse public health impacts of climate
change are likely to be worsened by Structural Adjustment Policies, which should
now be reviewed in the light of FCCC commitments.
The vulnerability of certain groups may be a direct threat to the well-being
of more advantaged members of the same population. An example of such a "spillover"
effect is the spread of infectious diseases from primary foci in poor populations.
What applies within populations may apply also between countries. The vulnerability
of poorer countries may jeopardise the security of others, for example, by triggering