UNDP India Promotes Inter-School Debate on Climate Change

2 February 2011: The UN Development Programme (UNDP) in India and the Rajiv Gandhi Institute for Contemporary Studies jointly organized the 13th Mahbub ul Haq Memorial Inter-School debate, which focused on the theme "The rich are responsible for climate change, but the poor suffer."

The event, which took place at the UN Conference Hall, in New Delhi, India, on 2 February 2011, involved participants from 13 schools from across the country, and was addressed by Patrice Coeur-Bizot, UN Resident Coordinator and Resident Representative in India. He highlighted that, although the rich and poor are equally exposed to climate change, those inadequately equipped will suffer the most. He called for viewing climate change as "a human development challenge which can slow down and even reverse progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)." Salman Khurshid, Union Water Resources Minister, stressed that "climate change raises the complex challenge of the need to balance responsibility and vulnerabilities." Participants noted that lack of health care, poor housing and inadequate resources increase the vulnerability of the poor to natural disasters, which they qualified as "by-products of climate change." Participants also noted the need to view climate change as an opportunity to share wealth, knowledge and responsibilities.

The Inter-School debates are an initiative held annually in South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries and the debates honor the memory of Mahbub ul Haq, the father of the UNDP Human Development Report and Human Development Index on which countries are ranked based on their progress on education, health and income. The South Asia regional finals will be held in New Delhi, India, on 23 February 2011. [UNDP Press Release]