The COVID-19 pandemic has put 265 million people globally at risk of starvation and India is expected to add 12 million more poor to its population, a new annual study has claimed.
The report, titled 'State of India's Environment in Figures 2020', published by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) talks about the massive scale of the economic impact of the pandemic.
According to the report, the global poverty level will rise for the first time in 22 years.
"Fifty per cent of the global population is under lockdown or containment with little or no new income -- 40-60 million people would be living in extreme poverty in the coming months due to loss of income.
"India will add 12 million more poor, the highest in the world, to its shattered population," the report said.
According to CSE Director General Sunita Narain, extreme weather events in the past four years have remained the topmost global economic risks.
"The impact of this, coupled with our lopsided and bad development strategies, has been very severe on India's poor. The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic has now been added to these misfortunes, and we find that our poor are now fighting with their backs to the wall.
"This is what CSE's latest publication, the State of India's Environment in Figures 2020, brings out clearly," Narain said.
The publication was released on Thursday at an online webinar attended by over 300 participants.
On COVID-19, the report points out that while new cases remain static or are diminishing in North America, Europe and Australia, countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia are emerging as the new hotspots.
"India and Brazil are the only two of the nine worst-hit countries in the world that have decided to ease their lockdowns and scale down their stringent measures - even as new cases continue to mount. India ranks fourth globally in terms of active cases," it claimed.
It, however, said that India's national commitments on climate are far more ambitious than most countries - including the US and nations in Europe.
"The book makes it quite clear that we will need new futures, new directions for growth. But this can't happen if our natural resources are threatened and our governance systems and practices are failing. 'Green' growth requires protection and sustainable use of our natural resources. 'Green' growth cannot happen if our health is compromised," Narain said.