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World Bank reports nearly 80 million people could slide into poverty

Natural catastrophes and changing climate could have devastating effects on cities in developing countries, the World Bank has said. As a result, over 77 million people could slide into poverty.

Out of 7.5 billion people in the world, more than 1 billion - or one in seven people - live on less than $1.25 (1.13 euros) a day. The number of those living in extreme poverty could rise sharply by 2030 unless governments plan better for disasters, the World Bank said in a joint report with the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction.

"Home to 55 percent of the world's population, urban areas are the engines of global growth, contributing to 80 percent of global GDP. However, the high density of people, jobs and assets which make cities so successful, also makes them - and global industry - extremely vulnerable to the wide range of natural and manmade shocks and stresses," the Bank said in a press release.

To prepare for the crisis, governments needed to speed up investments that shored up poor people from the effects of such catastrophes, the report indicated.

"Investing today in resilience measures is fundamental to secure a safe and prosperous future for cities around the world and for people living in them," Ede Ijassz-Vasquez told reporters. "We're approaching a tipping point for the safety of cities all over the world," he added.

Hefty price tag

However, new infrastructure to deal with potential climate problems comes with a hefty price tag. Worldwide, countries will have to spend $1 trillion (91 billion euros) to cover costs. Private investments could be increased to support governments, the researchers wrote.

"If high climate impact coincides with inequitable access to basic infrastructure and services, natural disasters will force tens of millions of urban dwellers to extreme poverty and may cost cities worldwide $314 billion (285 billion euros) each year by 2030," the report said.

However, the money required to ensure safe development was available, in the form of institutional capital, pensions and sovereign wealth funds, the analysts said, adding that currently only 1.6 percent of this money - around $106 trillion (96 trillion euros) - was being used to make infrastructure resilient.

The World Bank's report comes ahead of a UN conference on housing and sustainable urban development in Ecuador next week. The summit aims to set out guidelines for sustainable cities over the next two decades.

mg/jm (Reuters)

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