In the Bali roadmap, agreed at the 2007 negotiations of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, member states agreed to intensify national and international action to reduce the effects of climate change.

Resisting mandatory emissions caps

Developing countries, including China, continue to resist mandatory emissions caps arguing they have historically contributed little to global warming. The UN roadmap recognises they need the opportunity to develop, during which time their emissions will increase.

However member states find it harder to agree when mandatory global emissions reductions should begin to apply to developing countries, and views vary widely between rich and poor countries.

Just before his last birthday Prince Charles, Britain’s future King visited the Harapan forest in Jambi on the island of Sumatra and planted an ironwood sapling, a fitting symbol of his wish to be remembered for saving the rainforests.

Covering 101,000 hectares of degraded lowland forests in South Sumatra and Jambi provinces, Harapan, which means hope, is the latest forest to be endorsed by the prince’s Rainforest Project. It mirrors the prince’s twin visions of halting deforestation and mitigating climate change.

It is only eight o’clock in the morning, and Nigerian farmer Hamisu Abdulahi is already exhausted. Under the intense heat, Abdulahi, a resident of Birnin Gaye village in Bauchi state in Northern Nigeria, groans as he prepares the land.

He has worked on the farm for barely an hour and yet he feels like retiring for the day. He has to clear this previously uncultivated stretch of land, because of the desert’s constant encroachment on the traditional farmland. “The desert was very far away many, many years ago. But it has been coming towards us and is now taking over our farms. Our farms are no longer as productive as they were,” he says.

Sierra Leone’s coastal residents are being flooded year-on-year. How can this poor country afford to pay for climate change adaptation?

For the industrialised nations which are the main producers of greenhouse gases, climate change means reducing emissions so as to mitigate their effects. There is plenty of funding and the technology to help to achieve this.

Adapting to the inevitable effects of change is the other prong of the industrial world’s response. But for least developed countries (LDCs) with negligible greenhouse gas emissions, tackling climate change can be achieved only through adaptation. And that poses a dilemma for vulnerable countries like Sierra Leone.

Suriname, a small country squeezed between northern Brazil and the Atlantic Ocean, is 90 per cent rain forest. One of the most damaging effects of climate change there is extreme rainfall. Every May for the last three years, in the big rainy season, rivers and creeks have overflowed, flooding houses and fields, ruining crops and threatening starvation.

Maroons (people descended from runaway slaves) and indigenous people live along the rivers and creeks, and they are worried. They voiced their concerns in a workshop in January, asking what to do when the floods were coming. "We didn’t have a helpful answer for them," said Iefna Vrede, a development worker from the Saramacca, one of the five Maroon tribes in the forest. "The government doesn’t have enough resources. So we advise people to look for somewhere better to live. But if they move to higher ground they will have further to walk to the river, a particular problem for the many elderly women."

The water of the Buriganga River is pitch black and no aquatic life survives. Despite this it is still called the lifeline of Dhaka. Life is very busy by the Buriganga. Loaded with cabbages, a country boat has just reached the Chan Mia ghat (boat station) at the Sadarghat, the biggest river port of the capital of Bangladesh.

“The boat has arrived. I need to work,” Jalil Mia says and walks towards it. Two other workers give him a hand to unload the cabbages. Jalil, 41, moved to Dhaka a year ago, following the devastating cyclone Sidr which hit the country in November 2007 and left him penniless. He came to Dhaka from Bhola island, situated at the estuary of the Meghna River, around 400km south of the capital.

On the outskirts of Monrovia, the Liberian capital, in the town of Jah Tondo, I recently saw for myself the real impact of climate change in a tropical developing country.

Jah Tondo is in the lower Western Cluster region of Liberia. Many of the local farms which have always produced rice, the nation’s staple food, have been abandoned because the searing heat has simply destroyed the fertility of the land.

Gender equality to tackle climate change

When delegates meet at United Nations climate change summits, they try to pursue their common target: how to tackle the warming climate confronting them all.

Stopping tropical deforestation is part of the struggle against climate change. Developing countries expect rich nations to help pay for it. But will human rights be respected when megabucks are on offer?

You reach the Juma reserve, a 589-hectare piece of land covered with thick rainforest in the Brazilian state of Amazonas, only after a long journey along dusty roads. But even after many bone-shaking hours in a 4X4, you cannot fail to be impressed when you do finally arrive. This is a community in the middle of the jungle which preserves the forest. And perhaps more striking, every single family in the reserve owns a credit card.

In fact, there's a direct link between the inviolate forest and the pieces of plastic.

Day in and day out from the months of March through to June, grey and white clouds float across the blue skies above Kajiado, southern Kenya. But each passing day, the rain they promise frequently fails to show up.

“There’s been practically no rain in the region,” says David Kirrinkai, the assistant chief of Oliteyani, a sub-location of Ngong Hills in Kajiado. “We just receive a few showers, with no means of tapping it for storage.”

The lack of rain has had serious implications for the region as both people and animals are suffering. The Maasai people have to share the land with all kinds of wildlife here. And when water is short in supply, incidents of conflict arise.

Stretched-out plains with dust devils and unrelenting sun are the trademarks of the barren Northern Cape in South Africa. Every year the province records some of the highest numbers of sunny days worldwide. Rainy days are as rare as hen’s teeth.

This is bad news if you’re a farmer, but great for South Africa’s electricity provider Eskom, one of the biggest power companies in the world, which is building a multi-million dollar solar plant near Upington in the Northern Cape. The potential of solar is enormous, with scientists estimating that every year a square kilometre of desert receives solar energy equivalent to 1.5 million barrels of oil.

Among the posh office premises of the Red Cross Society and the court of adjudicature on Muchingo hill, in Uganda's western district of Kisoro, are ramshackle houses in which a community of Batwa people live.

Their temporary houses are made of a few sticks covered by polythene bags. Some of the Batwa – dwarves who grow to an average height of four feet or less – sleep on beds of dried grass and leaves. Whenever it rains their houses leak and everything, including their fireplace and bedding, gets soaked, leaving them wet and cold.

Traditionally, they lived in caves and peacefully shared their habitat with wild animals, including mountain gorillas, in the country's lush south-western forests.