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We argue that the ethical principles of justice provide an essential foundation for policies to protect unborn generations and the poorest countries from climate change. Related issues arise in connection with current and persistently inadequate aid for these nations, in the face of growing threats to agriculture and water supply, and the rules of international trade that mainly benefit rich countries


I wonder what the prepositional phrase "in the face of growing threats" is modifying?

Does it modify "these nations" ?

I think "in the face of growing threats" looks connected to "these nations", judging by the context.

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"In the face of" here means "despite" or "with." Thus, you have the prepositional phrase(s): "with growing threats to agriculture and water supply" and "[with] the rules of ...trade that...benefit rich countries." The prepositional phrase(s) have an adverbial function and modify the adjective "inadequate." You can see this better if you rearrange the sentence:


"Related issues arise in connection with current and persistently inadequate - with growing threats to agriculture and water supply, and [with] the rules of ...trade that ....benefit rich countries - aid for these nations."