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Monday, December 09, 2019, 18:42
Tech, climate change creating new inequalities, UN says
By Agencies
Monday, December 09, 2019, 18:42 By Agencies

In this aerial view, melting ice forms a lake on free-floating ice jammed into the Ilulissat Icefjord during unseasonably warm weather near Ilulissat, Greenland, on July 30, 2019. (PHOTO / VCG)

UNITED NATIONS - A new generation of global inequalities fueled by climate change and technology could trigger violence and political instability if left unchecked, the United Nations warned on Monday.

Climate change and technology rather than wealth and income are the modern-day wedges that are increasingly dividing the haves from the have-nots, said the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in its 2019 Human Development Report.

The climate crisis is already hitting the poorest hardest, while technological advances such as machine learning and artificial intelligence can leave behind entire groups of people, even countries.

2019 Human Development Report

These forms of inequality are rising as progress has been made in more traditional measures of inequality such as extreme poverty and disease, it said.

"Under the shadow of the climate crisis and sweeping technological change, inequalities in human development are taking new forms," the report reads.

"The climate crisis is already hitting the poorest hardest, while technological advances such as machine learning and artificial intelligence can leave behind entire groups of people, even countries."

ALSO READ: Failure to adapt to climate impacts will raise inequality, panel warns

Allowing these new inequalities to grow could be "extremely dangerous and highly volatile," said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner.

According to the UNDP report, climate change will fuel inequality as it hits developing countries, many with limited capacity to resist threats from malnutrition, disease and heat stress. 

"So the effects of climate change deepen existing social and economic fault lines," it said.

As to technology's effect on inequality, the UNDP said in the report that the proportion of adults with university-level educations was growing more than six times faster in highly developed countries than in lower developed countries.

It also said fixed broadband subscriptions were growing 15 times faster in developed countries.

"These are the inequalities that will likely determine people's ability to ... function in a knowledge economy," the report reads.

READ MORE: UN agency calls for dialogue on technological change

The changes come as many more people today no longer live in extreme poverty, Steiner said.

"Our aspirations have changed," he said. "People are not just looking at the dollars in their account. They are looking at opportunities, at social mobility and at freedom of choice."


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