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Environmental threats could push billions into extreme poverty, warns UN

The number of people living in extreme poverty could increase by up to 3 billion by 2050 unless urgent action is taken to tackle environmental challenges, a major UN report warned.

The 2013 Human Development Report hails better than expected progress on health, wealth and education in dozens of developing countries but says inaction on climate change, deforestation, and air and water pollution could end gains in the world’s poorest countries and communities.

“Environmental threats are among the most grave impediments to lifting human development … The longer action is delayed, the higher the cost will be,” warns the report, which builds on the 2011 edition looking at sustainable development.

“Environmental inaction, especially regarding climate change, has the potential to halt or even reverse human development progress. The number of people in extreme poverty could increase by up to 3 billion by 2050 unless environmental disasters are averted by co-ordinated global action,” said the UN.

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