Climate Change – Are Tomorrow’s Needs more Important than Today’s Reality?

The climate change and sustainable development debate is very much defined by the 1987 Brundtland Commission Report. The key thrust of the Report is about the dilemma of “meet[ing] the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

The spirit of this Report lives on in the latest supranational climate change agreements and agendas, including the Paris Agreement, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Yet, adaptation and mitigation to climate change are highly costly endeavours. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that adapting to climate change would cost $500 billion per year, by 2050. These costs will pose a financial strain for countries the world over. This is especially so for countries that are just emerging from the clasp of poverty, and beginning to see improvement in their population’s quality of life.

Can countries, and the world, find that critical balance – in the climate change debate – between addressing today’s realities and the needs of tomorrow? This means taking into account issues of parity, ethics and accountability to future generations.

30 Oct 2020

About Our Panellists


Ms Grace Fu
Minister for Sustainability and the Environment View Profile


Mr Abhas Jha
Practice Manager, Urban and Disaster Risk Management, The World Bank View Profile


Associate Professor Leong Ching
Dean of Students, NUS View Profile


Ms Feng Yuan
Student Winner of Essay Competition View Profile

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