An ‘historic opportunity’ to reduce poverty and emissions to zero to be highlighted by #zerozero campaign

Extreme poverty and the impacts of climate change, which already affect millions of people worldwide, can be overcome by far-sighted, joined-up action on both at once, the Development and Climate Days event at UN climate talks in Peru will hear.
Press release, 04 December 2014

The heads of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), and the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) are together calling for "substantially expanded ambitions to tackle both extreme poverty and greenhouse gas emissions".  

The international timetable for 2015, which includes agreeing a new global climate agreement, new goals for sustainable development, and a new international disasters agreement, presents an "historic opportunity" to put both extreme poverty and net emissions on a path to zero, they said in a joint statement. 

As delegates began gathering for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties 20 (COP20) meeting in Lima, Peru, the four agency directors highlighted the chance for "a unified, high ambition across the three key global agendas to be agreed in 2015".

The agencies are organising the 12th Development and Climate Days (D&C Days) event on 6-7 December at COP 20. The event is hashtagged on Twitter as #zerozero (See and subscribe to a Twitter list of organisations and individuals involved). The event has been a regular feature of the annual UN climate talks for more than a decade.

"Strong and coherent links between the three agreements could ensure that sustainable development goals and disaster risk reduction efforts are climate-smart," according to the joint statement by Dr Maarten van Aalst, director of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre; Sam Bickersteth, chief executive of CDKN; Camilla Toulmin, director of IIED; and Kevin Watkins, director of Overseas Development Institute (ODI).

"Effective climate mitigation and adaptation strategies are pivotal to eradicating poverty. Without integration, these agreements will fail to address the development possibilities for the poorest and most vulnerable in a changing climate."

The numbers of people in extreme poverty have fallen in the past two decades, bringing the possibility of ending extreme poverty within reach, yet climate change threatens to reverse development progress. Climate change will lower crop yields and food security, reduce the freshwater available for human needs, and lower fish stocks in the oceans.


Dr Van Aalst, who is also a lead author of the IPCC's Fifth Assessment report said: "Zerozero is about increasing people's resilience, and doing it in a way that will also safeguard gains for future generations. Climate risks hit the most vulnerable hardest: people living beneath unstable slopes or on crumbling coastlines, farmers battling floods one year and drought the next, city-dwellers facing climate-related urban issues."

Sam Bickersteth, chief executive of CDKN, said: "Climate change is already undermining livelihoods, economic growth and national budgets in developing countries and hence action on poverty reduction and climate change must be interwoven. 

"Least developed countries are among the leaders on green growth and climate resilience – and offer inspiration and practical building blocks from which others can learn. It is such tangible solutions, and proposals for collective action, that Development and Climate Days 2014 seeks to foster."

Kevin Watkins, director of ODI, said: "With the right policies in place a low carbon transition can act as a catalyst for poverty reduction, jobs creation and inclusive growth. We need to consign to history the idea that there is a trade-off between greener growth and development."

Camilla Toulmin, director of IIED, said: "Low carbon development offers big opportunities for poor countries to achieve growth with better livelihoods. The world is looking to its leaders to create a fairer future, so we must see rapid action and concrete measures from everyone in Lima, if we are to achieve zero poverty and zero net emissions in time to prevent a global temperature rise above 2ºC."


For press interviews or arrangements for filming at Development & Climate Days 2014, please contact:

Mairi Dupar, global public affairs coordinator, CDKN, Tel: +44(0) 7921 088475 (UK number)

Please check for notification of local dial-up numbers in Lima, Peru over the '#ZeroZero' weekend.

Notes to editors

Development and Climate Days 2014 will convene representatives from government, civil society, the private sector, multilateral agencies, media outlets and more, to:

  • Discuss the interdependence of climate goals with development goals for the post-2015 agenda, and offer fresh thinking on shared challenges and possible actions
  • Explore and discuss a strategy for the integration of climate and poverty targets
  • Influence the UNFCCC negotiations and the broader set of international processes, including the formulation of the sustainable development goals and the new international disaster risk reduction agreement – the HFA2, and
  • Identify and generate climate and development agreements that could lead the world to zero poverty and emissions

Confirmed speakers include: Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, COP20 President; Mary Robinson, former President, Ireland and chair of the board of trustees, Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice; Helen Clark, administrator of UNDP; Daniele Violetti, chief of staff, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Youba Sokona and Chris Fields, co-chairs of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and many others.

A detailed schedule of events and open registration is available via

The successor agreement to the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) is due to be agreed in Sendai, Japan in March 2015.

The Sustainable Development Goals, the successor to the Millennium Development Goals, are due to be adopted by governments in September 2015

The new international climate change agreement is due to be agreed by Parties to the UNFCCC in Paris at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in December 2015.

In 2010, 700 million fewer people lived in extreme poverty than in 1990 – defined as people living on less than $1.25 a day

Climate models suggest that the severity and distribution of some hydro-meteorological hazards will change in the near future – even by 2030. For example, the severity of droughts will change: there is a strong likelihood of more drought hazard in parts of Central and South America, Southern Europe, Eastern and South-eastern Asia and in a broad belt spanning southern Africa. These trends are particularly important for countries and areas that are likely to have high poverty rates in 2030 (Shepherd et al, ODI, 2013).

Research indicates that a low-carbon economy is at worst compatible with, and likely to be better at, achieving the moderate and sustained growth and reductions in inequality necessary to attain zero extreme poverty. Amore equitable distribution of growth will make achieving extreme poverty reductions and emissions reductions even more compatible (Granoff et al, ODI, forthcoming).

The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) is an independent, non-profit research institute. Set up in 1971 and based in London, IIED provides expertise and leadership in researching and achieving sustainable development (see:

For more information or to request an interview, contact Simon Cullen: 
+44 7503 643332 or [email protected]