International Development, Community, and Environment


Rural Areas

Document Type

Book Chapter


Introduction 9.1.1. Rationale for the Chapter This chapter assesses the impacts of climate change on, and the prospects for adaptation in, rural areas. Rural areas include diverse patterns of settlement, infrastructure, and livelihoods, and relate in complex ways with urban areas. The chapter shows that rural areas experience specific vulnerabilities to climate change, both through their dependence on natural resources and weather-dependent activities and their relative lack of access to information, decision making, investment, and services. Adaptation strategies will need to address these vulnerabilities. Some of the key starting points, which affect the scope and coverage of literature assessed in this chapter, are as follows: • Rural areas, even after significant demographic shifts, still account for 3.3 billion people, or almost half (47.9%) of the world’s total population (UN DESA Population Division, 2013). • The overwhelming majority of the world’s rural population (3.1 billion people, or 91.7% of the world’s rural population, or 44.0% of the world’s total population) live in less developed or least developed countries (UN DESA Population Division, 2013). • Rural dwellers also account for about 70% of the developing world’s poor people. IFAD (2010) states that around 70% of the extreme poor in developing countries lived in rural areas in 2005. Ravallion et al. (2007), using 2002 data and poverty lines of US$1.08 or US$2.15, in each case with urban poverty lines adjusted upward to recognize additional non-food spending, give a figure of around 75% of people, under either poverty line, being rural. • Rural areas are a spatial category, associated with certain patterns of human activity, but with those associations being subject to continuous change. • Rural areas are largely defined in contradistinction to urban areas, but that distinction is increasingly seen as problematic. • Rural populations have, and will have, a variety of income sources and occupations, within which agriculture and the exploitation of natural resources have privileged, but not necessarily predominant, positions.

Publication Title

Climate Change 2014 Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability: Part A: Global and Sectoral Aspects

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