Climate Change: Balancing Responsibility and Vulnerability

Feb 2, 2010

New Delhi, February 2, 2010 - The 13th Mahbub ul Haq Memorial Inter-School debate on "Rich are responsible for climate change, but the poor suffer" was organized by UNDP India and the Rajiv Gandhi Institute for Contemporary Studies.

"Our quest for a more just and equitable society will continue to put our natural resources under stress" acknowledged Union Water Resources Minister Mr. Salman Khurshid in New Delhi today. The Minister was speaking at the National Round of the 13th Mahbub ul Haq Memorial Inter-School Debates at the UN Conference Hall on February 2, 2011. “Climate change raises the complex challenge of the need to balance responsibility and vulnerabilities” he added. The 13th Mahbub ul Haq Memorial Inter-School debate was jointly organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Rajiv Gandhi Institute for Contemporary Studies. This year’s motion for the house was “Rich are responsible for climate change, but the poor suffer.” Thirteen schools from across the country participated in the national finals. The winner of the Delhi round, thereby qualifying to represent India in the SARRC finals later this month was Delhi Public School, Jodhpur. Army Public School, Bangalore was judged to be the second best team. Shreya Deora from India International School, Jaipur was judged best speaker “for” the motion and Shayne Dias, Blue Bells School International, New Delhi, received the prize for best speaker against the motion.

Speaking for the motion one speaker pointed out that “Lack of healthcare, poor housing and inadequate resources increase the vulnerability of the poor to natural disasters that are the products of climate change”. However, as another speaker pointed out, “there is a need to see the poor as par of the solution to the problem and instead of playing the blame game, view climate change as an opportunity to share wealth, knowledge and responsibilities. “Delivering the keynote address Mr. Patrice Coeur-Bizot, UN Resident Coordinator and Resident Representative, UNDP said “Even as the rich and poor are equally exposed to climate change those inadequately equipped, will suffer the most severely, in human development losses. Climate change needs to be viewed as a human development challenge which can slow down and even reverse progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, constrain the opportunities people have, now and in the future”, he added. This view was echoed by another speaker who quoted an ancient proverb, “We have not inherited the earth from our forefathers, we have borrowed it from our children.”Held annually in India and in other SAARC countries the debates honor the memory of Dr. Mahbub ul Haq, the father of the UNDP-commissioned Human Development Report and Human Development Index on which countries are ranked based on their progress on three indicators of human development – education, health and income.

Close to 700 schools from Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Chandigarh, Delhi, Dehradun, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Jammu, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Manipur participated in the preliminary round to select the finalists. The winning team of the national round will participate in the South Asia competition of the Dr. Mahbub ul Haq Memorial Inter-school Debates. National rounds of this competition are also being organized in other South Asian countries, namely Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Pakistan. The South Asia regional finals will be held in New Delhi on February 23 with the participation of the winning team from each country.

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