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People and Planet:
Addressing the Interlinked Challenges of Climate Change, Poverty and Hunger in Asia and the Pacific

Despite being at the halfway point for achieving the SDGs, progress has stalled, achieving only 15 per cent of the targets under the 17 Goals. Most worryingly, the region is regressing on Goal 13 (Climate Action), while progress on Goal 1 (No Poverty) and Goal 2 (Zero Hunger) has halted since the COVID-19 pandemic.

This report focuses on the interlinkages between climate change, poverty and hunger, in the context of multiple global crises affecting the Asia-Pacific region. It explores integrated solutions and provides recommendations that bring climate action, poverty eradication, and food security together, enabling transformative change.

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Published by Asia-Pacific SDG Partnership on 20 February 2024

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Key takeaways

Climate hazards are becoming more frequent and severe with disproportionate impacts on poorer countries and their communities who are more exposed and less able to adapt. Current global and regional policies do not adequately support the integration of climate, poverty and hunger priorities.

The interlinkages between climate, poverty and food insecurity require integrated approaches to unlock synergies and deliver transformative changes. Three areas present great potential for integrated solutions: promoting sustainable food systems, ensuring just transition and decent work, and developing climate resilient social protection systems.

Transformative solutions require the right enabling environment, driven by improved educational awareness, strengthened institutional capacity, coherent policy frameworks, augmented capital, innovation and technology, robust regional cooperation and partnerships by multiple actors.

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Chapter - 01

The impacts of climate change on poverty and hunger

Chapter - 02

Climate change solutions to combat poverty and hunger

Chapter - 03

Enabling actions for transformative change

Chapter 1

The impacts of climate change on poverty and hunger

Climate hazards are becoming more severe and frequent, straining food and livelihood systems, causing declines in crop yields, freshwater fisheries, pastoralist activities, and impacting activities such as storage, transportation, retail, and consumption.

Climate models project declining crop yields in Asia and the Pacific compared to the rest of the world, with the greatest decline projected for soybean and maize.

Projected mean yield changes for major crops by end of the century

relative to the baseline period (2001–2010) under three different emission scenarios

RCP : Representative concentration pathways - portray possible future greenhouse gas and aerosol emissions scenarios.

RCP 2.6
RCP 4.5
RCP 8.5
RCP 2.6
RCP 4.5
RCP 8.5









Climate change impacts (% of yield
change from the baseline period)

Source: Hasegawa, T. et al. (2022). A global dataset for the projected impacts of climate change on four major crops. Scientific data, vol. 9, No. 1.
Note: Global averages are shown for comparison. RCP2.6 represents a scenario where greenhouse gas emissions are strongly reduced, resulting in a best estimate global average temperature rise of 1.6°C by 2100 compared to the preindustrial period. RCP8.5 is a scenario where greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow unmitigated, leading to a best estimate global average temperature rise of 4.3°C by 2100. RCP4.5 is a medium stabilisation scenario, with varying levels of mitigation.

Poorer countries and their communities are more exposed and less able to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Poor households and those in vulnerable situations are impacted by climate change through multiple channels, including labour supply and productivity, asset accumulation, and price and consumption.

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impact on assets

Crops, livestock and property destroyed

Selling of assets to cope with impacts

Land becomes unsuitable for production

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impact on prices

impact on prices icon

Food price increase and volatility

Local and global declines crop yields

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impact on labour icon

impact on labour

Poor health leads to undernutrition and a decline in labour productivity and supply

Climate-related out-migration

Spreads of water-borne disease following floods and drougths

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More severe and frequents heatwaves overwhelm workers

More severe and frequent rapid-onset climate-related shocks

Slow-onset climate events alter productivity of natural assets

Unprecedented drought affects global crop production

Droughts, floods and wildfires undermine food systems

Household nutrition insecurity

Reduce income generation and ability to invest in assets

Lower purchasing power and less expentiture in food and health

Indequate dietery intake

Poverty and food insecurity

Source: Authors

Most of the climate-related displacement of people recorded globally takes place in Asia and the Pacific.


114 Million
people displaced

Tropical Cyclones & Typhoons

78 Million
people displaced

Other storms

20 Million
people displaced


2 Million
people displaced

Source: Authors using data from Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre and Asian Development Bank (2022).

Note: Figure does not include displacement in response to slow-onset sea level rise. Others include wildfires, landslides and wave action.

A combination of high vulnerability of populations, high country-level exposure to climate hazards, depletion of natural capital, state fragility and conflict, and low coping capacity, amplify the climate impacts on poverty and food insecurity.

Chapter 2

Climate change solutions to combat poverty and hunger

There are three promising areas where solutions can work to end poverty and hunger, while considering climate change.


Sustainable agricultural practices and food systems approaches

Sustainable agricultural practices and food systems approaches can address the triple challenge of providing food security and nutrition to a growing population, supporting sustainable livelihoods of farmers and food producers, and reducing the environmental and climate impacts of food production.

Various feasible approaches exist, encompassing activities across the value chain such as to conserve and regenerate soils, efficient use of agricultural inputs, use of renewable energy, reducing methane emissions from rice cultivation, managing manure to reduce associated carbon emissions and embracing agroecology practices.

Using peer learning to build capacity for Conservation Agriculture in Shaanxi Province, China

The North China Plain in Shaanxi Province is an important commercial grain producing area, accounting for 65 per cent of the national wheat production and approximately 45 per cent of the maize production. Both drought and water shortages have become issues. To increase productivity to meet increasing demand, intensive farming practices such as excessive irrigation, fertilization and tillage have increased environmental impacts and resulted in land degradation. Conservation Agriculture (CA) techniques have become an important feature for increasing climate resilience for farmers in the province.

The system of ‘model farmers’ help diffuse new practices. Model farmers are selected community representatives trained with new knowledge and equipment as trusted sources of information on new practices. Recent advances in technology have further supported uptake of CA, combining existing knowledge exchange – with WeChat, webpage, and mobile software applications for farmers, customised by geography and local conditions, and including options for 1-to-1 exchanges with online experts.

Fan, L., Ge, Y., & Niu, H. (2022) Effects of agricultural extension system on promoting conservation agriculture in Shaanxi Plain, China. Journal of Cleaner Production, 380, 134896.
Zhang, H., Hobbie, E. A., Feng, P., Niu, L., & Hu, K. (2022). Can conservation agriculture mitigate climate change and reduce environmental impacts for intensive cropping systems in North China Plain? Science of The Total Environment, 806(3), 151194.

The Khok Nong Na Model in Thailand

The Khok Nong Na Model project is a concept of sustainable agriculture initiated in 1997. The model focuses on resource conservation and water management, along with community development. Land use is divided using the 30/30/30/10 allocation – 30 per cent for rice fields (for staple food production), 30 per cent for fruits and vegetables, 30 per cent for ponds or water storage (for irrigation and fish farming), and 10 per cent for residence and livestock.
The Khok Nong Na Model project supports food security and income generation in communities affected by climate impacts and environmental degradation such as frequent flooding or droughts. It involves producing and trading various food types, providing value-adding services, and promoting education and skill-building through community-based learning centres. The model received significant funding for expansion as part of the Thai Government fiscal stimulus in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sources: Dhammahaso, P. H., Pimnon, P. A., Sakabucha, S., & Phophichit, N. (2022). Concept of “Khok Nong Na Model” for sustainable development. Journal of Arts Management, 6(1), 419–434. ADB (2021) Thailand: COVID-19 active response and expenditure support program. Quarterly Monitoring Report (April–June 2021).

Free the Seed start-up in Malaysia

The seasonal burning of rice paddy is an enormous environmental problem. In Malaysia, over 240,000 tonnes of paddy straw are burnt every year, emitting CO2 and contributing to toxic air pollution. Free the Seed, a Malaysia-based start-up company, manufactures sustainable packaging from plant-waste cellulosic fibrous materials. The company uses a patented biotechnology process to convert waste biomass materials, such as rice straw and husks, into biodegradable packaging products. The benefit of the product is two-fold. First, it brings to market a product that biodegrades after six months, thus reducing the need for plastic packaging, which are a main polluter of rivers and oceans. Second, it provides farmers with an extra income. Free the Seed works with over 1,200 farmers to reprocess paddy waste, reducing an estimated six-million-kilogram CO2 emissions annually.

Source: Free the Seed (n.d.) ‘About Us’. Available at (accessed on 4th January 2024)

Solar fish-drying technology has the potential to transform Cambodia’s fisheries

Dried fish is a common Cambodian diet, but traditional drying methods are often inefficient, unhygienic, and unsustainable. In addition, drying methods that use firewood, coal, or fossil fuels can be a health risk. The practice can lead to respiratory ailments and contribute to climate change and habitat loss.
The solar dryer dome, a lightweight structure with a steel frame and a translucent white polycarbonate dome, allows sunlight into dry fish, which is laid out on adjustable trays. A solar-powered ventilator, which emits no pollutants, keeps the dome at the optimum temperature for drying. The solar dryer dome takes about 8-12 hours and is less susceptible to weather fluctuations. This technique could increase productivity and sustainability, allowing Cambodia's fisheries to compete with imports as well as in export markets, contributing to household income, job creation and investment opportunities.

Source: UNIDO (2023, June 15). Solar fish-drying tech has the potential to transform Cambodia’s fisheries.


Decent work and a just transition in the context of climate change

Addressing climate change will lead to new employment opportunities, while phasing out jobs in carbon-intensive sectors. It is critical to ensure that new employment generated from transitioning to a sustainable economy is green and decent, supporting a just transition and contributing to poverty and hunger alleviation.

Nature-based solutions – comprising activities that restore, protect and sustainably manage natural ecosystems – are examples of integrated responses, as they provide multiple benefits, including adaptation from climate change, human health, food and water security, disaster risk reduction and employment opportunities.

Mangrove protection against rising sea levels

Indonesia's village of Demak on the north coast of Java is using nature-based solution to restore a protective belt of mangroves to fight against erosion and sea level rises that have already swallowed up large areas of the Java coast. The program is implemented by the NGO Wetlands International, the Indonesian Government, partner technical organisations and the local community.

Villagers and contractors have erected some 3.4 kilometre (km) of wave-calming structures in the shallows along a 20 km stretch of the coast. Instead of washing away precious soil, the tides deposit part of their sediment load, creating good conditions for mangroves to re-grow. Bamboo poles and nets are used to trap the sediment, and when enough accumulates mangrove seeds can naturally settle and grow. The model is replicable and nearly 300 farmers have been educated in sustainable aquaculture techniques boosting their returns by up to 200 per cent.

Since 2015, about 120 hectares of mangroves have been restored and more than 300 hectares of aquaculture ponds are being managed with sustainable techniques. Some 70,000 people stand to benefit from increased resilience to climate change.

Sources: Damastuti, E., de Groot, R., Debrot, A. O., & Silvius, M. J. (2022). Effectiveness of community-based mangrove management for biodiversity conservation: A case study from Central Java, Indonesia. Trees, Forests and People, 7, 100202. UNEP (2023). Mangrove Restoration gives hope to Indonesia’s sinking shores.

Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme – developing employment and adaptive capacity

Pakistan’s Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme (TBTTP) was launched in 2019 with the goal of supporting the country’s transition towards climate resilience by mainstreaming climate change adaptation and mitigation through ecologically targeted initiatives. Under the four-year programme, 3.3 billion trees would be planted by 2023, with a budget of around 125 billion Pakistani rupees (US$562 million).

The TBTTP was designed to address the impact of rising temperatures, floods, droughts and other extreme weather events, while providing jobs for people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministry of Climate Change in partnership with four provinces and two independent territories, implements the nationwide programme, creating 1.42 million jobs, with 800,000 being long-term.
The key outcomes of the TBTTP include enhanced forest cover, tree nurseries, natural forest rehabilitation, afforestation, watershed and rangeland management, protected area conservation and institutional strengthening.

Sources: ILO, UNEP, & ICUN (2022). Decent work in nature-based solutions, Geneva.

Rangeland Restoration in Mongolia

Rangelands, essential for Mongolia’s pastoralist livelihood, face severe threats from climate change and environmental degradation. Almost 60 per cent of Mongolia's poor people are herders and one fourth of the population is food insecure. According to the Ministry of Nature, Environment and Tourism, more than 70 per cent of these rangelands are degraded at a moderate to heavy level.

A challenge in promoting sustainable rangelands and drylands is the lack of governance systems and insufficient information about highly variable ecosystem conditions. The Green Gold Rangeland ecosystem management program formed Pasture User Groups. These groups define the boundaries of grazing areas, develop common plans and formalize agreements with local governments, fostering responsible land use. The program also introduced the Responsible Nomads livestock traceability system, providing loans and financial incentives for herders and offering sustainable certification and verification for products. Approximately, 18 per cent of the targeted degraded rangelands have been rested for two to five years based on contracts negotiated between herders and local governments. In February 2021, the Mongolian Agency for Standardization and Metrology approved the Responsible Nomads code of practices as a national standard for nomadic livestock production. The program not only enhances environmental sustainability but also improves herders' livelihoods.

Sources: Dashbal, B., et al. (2023). Implementing a resilience‐based management system in Mongolia's rangelands. Ecosphere, 14(10).
National Federation of Pasture Users (n.d.). “Responsible nomads” livestock raw material traceability system developed by green gold.

ADB’s Energy Transition Mechanism supporting just transition in early coal retirement

The Energy Transition Mechanism (ETM), launched by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in 2021, is a financing mechanism aimed at accelerating the retirement or repurposing of fossil fuel power plants and replacing them with clean energy alternatives. It is currently being piloted in Indonesia, Viet Nam, the Philippines, Kazakhstan and Pakistan.

Indonesia has announced a non-binding framework agreement at COP28 to speed up the closure of the 660 megawatt (MW) Cirebon-1 coal fired power plant under the ETM. The framework agreement includes environmental, social, and just transition planning for impacted workers and communities based on the Just transition High-Level Principles of Multilateral Development Banks. The ETM aims to be a scalable model for energy transition in the region. It seeks to retire 50 per cent of the entire coal fleet, with a combined capacity of 30 gigawatt (GW) in Indonesia, the Philippines and Viet Nam, in the next 10–15 years, promoting sustainable, inclusive and resilient livelihoods.

ADB (2023, December 3). New Agreement aims to retire Indonesia 660-MW coal plant almost six years early.

Sharing the benefits of solar parks in India

India's poor and landless workers rely on wage labour in the agricultural or construction sector. These landless workers depend on common land (or sometimes on privately owned land) to graze their livestock. In regions where solar parks have been constructed on agricultural land, the parks have significantly limited access for landless workers to pastures, with resulting impacts on incomes and livelihoods.

The example highlights the need for energy transition projects to consider a broad range of stakeholders and ensure that renewable energy projects reduce poverty and not increase it. Key lessons include encouraging co-uses for land, raising the height of solar panels for livestock grazing and designing panels for crop cultivation. Identifying secure jobs in renewable energy or other sectors can also help.

Source: Poojary, V., Hingne, A., & Kelkar, U (2023, May 31). In India, New Solar Parks can either uproot or uplift landless workers.


Climate resilient social protection systems

Developing social protection systems, should target people in vulnerable situations and take into account new areas of risks related to climate change, building adaptive capacity of vulnerable people to prepare, adapt and respond to climate impacts. This will address the underlying causes of poverty and food insecurity and reduce vulnerability to climate change impacts.

Public Works Programmes providing social protection and climate adaptation in India

India's Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) is the largest labour guarantee scheme in the world, offering 100 days of paid labour to every rural household. Public Works Programs (PWP) are state-sponsored employment programs targeting poverty where labour is exchanged for wages and/or food. PWP offers decent work, provides a safety net, restores and conserves the natural resources and secures water and food supply. Evaluations have highlighted the environmental benefits of the program, including water security and carbon abatement.

Sources: Angom, J., & Viswanathan, P. K. (2022). Contribution of national rural employment guarantee program on rejuvenation and restoration of community forests in India. Frontiers in Forests and Global Change., 5.

Social protection as disaster relief – Fiji and Cyclone Winston

In 2016, Tropical Cyclone Winston hit Fiji, affecting 60 per cent of its population and causing $900,000 million in losses. Livelihoods were adversely affected, with severe disruptions to agriculture and fisheries.

The government used expanded social protection vertically, by temporarily increasing the Poverty Benefits Scheme, Social Pension Scheme, and Care and Protection Allowance to address needs of beneficiaries. A World Bank study shows that the response reduced the cyclone's impact on the poorest Fijians by over 30 per cent. The Fijian social protection system effectively responded to the disaster, demonstrating the importance of expanding social protection to better cover youth and working-age populations.

Sources: ESCAP, & Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Samoa (2020, October 7). Disaster responsive social protection in the Pacific Small Island Developing States. Policy Brief Series.

Extreme Heat Income Insurance for Self-Employed Women in India

Extreme heat can cause income losses and significant health impacts for self-employed women, especially those working as street vendors, waste pickers or at home. The Extreme Heat Income Insurance was developed by the Ahmedabad-based Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) and insurance technology firm Blue Marble with support from the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation. The parametric insurance policy, trialled with 500 women in five districts in Gujarat state, pays out compensation daytime when temperatures, gauged by satellite, exceed a certain level. The current payment is $3 per day, and allows for multiple pay-outs per season. During the trial, the insurance premium is being paid by the philanthropic program with policies drawn up by a local insurance company. The purpose of the pilot is to learn how similar parametric insurance products can scaled up among SEWA’s 21,000 members.

Sources: Desai, A. (2023). Heat-linked parametric insurance system offers climate change lifeline for Indian women in the informal sector. Journal of Public and International Affairs. Rockefellar Foundation (2023, June 2). The Rockefeller Foundation announces support for the India extreme heat income insurance initiative as part of the Global Climate Resilience Fund for Women.

Climate Bridge Fund reaching the most marginalised and vulnerable – poor women in Bangladesh

BRAC, a Bangladeshi NGO, works with local organisations to reach women in extreme poverty through data collection, needs analysis and capacity building. BRAC has been able to bring previously unreachable people into public safety nets.

In 2019, the NGO established the Climate Bridge Fund to help local non-profits in communities affected by climate change. The program has two funding streams: supporting climate-induced migrants and funding locally led climate resilience projects. The projects are developed from the bottom-up with local women developing innovative context-specific development solutions. Projects are locally sourced but run in line with local and national regulations. Regular research and evaluation ensure learning and scaling up activities.

Source: BRAC (2023). Climate Bridge Fund. Available at

Community Resilience Partnership Program

Community Resilience Partnership Program (CRPP), led by ADB and backed by the Green Climate Fund with $120 million dedicated to climate adaptation. The program's strategy includes increasing the participation of women in decision-making processes which in turn leads to more effective and inclusive resilience strategies, that ensure their perspectives and needs are adequately represented and addressed. A key impact of the CRPP is the mobilization of substantial public investment to support adaptation measures for poor and vulnerable communities. By dedicating a significant portion of its resources to gender-specific challenges, the CRPP can potentially advance gender equality and empower women, ensuring that they have access to the necessary finance and support to build resilience in their communities.

Source: ADB, et. Al. (2023). Community Resilience Partnership Program: Supporting investments that reach scale while ensuring no one is left behind.

Chapter 3

Enabling actions for transformative change

There are some critical enablers necessary to implement integrated approaches of climate, poverty and hunger.

Education and skills development

A shift in how climate change knowledge is delivered by moving beyond imparting narrow technical skills to a broader approach which includes skills for transformative climate action such as coalition-building, anticipatory thinking, and working in situations of uncertainty and complexity.

Policy coherence

Policies should be integrated, coherent and holistic, recognizing the interplay between environmental, economic, social, and cultural factors.

Institutional capacity building

Developing the capacity of institutions for climate-risk assessment and governance is vital for effective public decision-making at all levels.


Innovation capabilities need to be broad and complimentary, enabling more efficient use of resources and improved access and benefits to the unserved or underserved communities. Investing in associated technologies and ensuring their inclusive diffusion are critical.

Finance and investment

Private and public sector finance must be scaled up and coordinated to address the climate-poverty-hunger nexus. Multilateral Development Banks should evolve to guide investments using nexus approaches, matching investments with active labour market programs and social assistance.

Cooperation and partnerships

Effective regional cooperation and multi-stakeholder partnerships are required for mobilizing human, social and financial capital to support the implementation of integrated approaches that consider transborder issues.

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People and Planet: Addressing the Interlinked Challenges of Climate Change, Poverty and Hunger in Asia and the Pacific

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Copyright© 2024 United Nations, Asian Development Bank, United Nations Development Programme

Published by Asia-Pacific SDG Partnership on 20 February 2024