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Global leaders call for urgent acceleration of climate adaptation solutions

On the heels of one of the deadliest summers of climate-related weather disasters affecting countries all over the world, an unprecedented gathering of global leaders launched the new Global Commission on Adaptation to catalyze a global movement to bring scale and speed to climate adaptation solutions.

The Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA) is led by Ban Ki-moon, 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Kristalina Georgieva, CEO, World Bank.

All stressed the need to scale up and speed up adaptation at an October 16 launch in The Hague in the light of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report warning of the imminent dangers the world now faces from global warming.

The GCA includes 17 convening countries and 28 commissioners, including the leaders, representing all regions of the globe and all sectors of development and industry.

The IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C says that damaging climate change impacts are being felt now, much sooner and more powerfully than previously projected. Adaptation is about managing the risks associated with climate change – from floods and droughts to sea level rise and storms.

The Commission will seek to elevate the visibility and political importance of climate adaptation and encourage bold solutions like smarter investments, new technologies and better planning to become more resilient to climate-related threats.

Ban Ki-moon, 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations. commented:

“Without urgent adaptation action, we risk undermining food, energy and water security for decades to come. Continued economic growth and reductions in global poverty are possible despite these daunting challenges—but only if societies invest much more in adaptation. The costs of adapting are less than the cost of doing business as usual. And the benefits many times larger.”

Bill Gates – world is “at a moment of high risk”  

Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said that the world is “at a moment of high risk and great promise.”  Policies were needed to help vulnerable populations adapt, together with the need to ensure that governments and other stakeholders are supporting innovation and helping deliver breakthroughs to the people and places that need them most.  “If everyone does their part, we can reduce carbon emissions, increase access to affordable energy, and help farmers everywhere grow more productive crops,” he added.

“Our climate has already changed. Dramatic weather events and volatile seasons are the new normal,” said Kristalina Georgieva, CEO, World Bank.  “Millions of people in poor countries are already living with the effects of climate change. It is a cruel irony that those who have least contributed to climate change are the ones who are affected and least able to prepare. We face a choice: business as usual and hope for the best. Or we act now and build for a resilient future.”

Four major roadblocks slowing adaptation Commission will work to address

There are four major roadblocks slowing adaptation that the Commission will work to address:

  • Decision makers and the wider public are not yet aware of all the opportunities to be gained from becoming more resilient and less vulnerable to climate impacts and natural hazards;
  • Governments and businesses fail to incorporate climate change risks into their social and economic development plans and investments;
  • Adaptation efforts fall short of those who need them most, the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people; and
  • Although adaptation is a global challenge, global leadership on the issue is scarce. In short, the world is falling short of the transformation required to adapt to a changing climate.

In its first year, the Commission will oversee preparation of a flagship report and present its findings and recommendations at the 2019 UNSG Climate Summit.

The report will be informed by input from the world’s leading scientific, economic and policy analysis institutes; and will set out why adapting to climate risks and accelerated action is essential, what new actions are needed and what must be done differently; and how governments, companies and citizens can start working today to make the world a safer, better place.

The Commission will also convene key champions, coalitions, private sector and civil society actors to advance activities aligned to several action tracks, including food security and rural livelihoods, global supply chains, cities, infrastructure, finance, social protection and nature-based solutions.

The convening countries

Seventeen countries at the forefront of adaptation have taken the lead in creating the Global Commission on Adaptation

  • Argentina
  • Bangladesh
  • Canada
  • China
  • Costa Rica
  • Denmark
  • Ethiopia
  • Germany
  • Grenada
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Marshall Islands
  • Mexico
  • Netherlands
  • Senegal
  • South Africa
  • United Kingdom

The managing partners of the Commission are the Global Center on Adaptation and World Resources Institute.

Dr. Patrick Vincent Verkooijen, CEO, Global Center on Adaptation said the costs of adapting to climate change could be in the hundreds of billions per year by 2050.

“Once viewed as a distant, future threat, climate change is now here. As the new IPCC report makes abundantly clear, without urgent action, climate change will bring devastation to people’s homes, crops and businesses,” Dr. Andrew Steer, President & CEO, World Resources Institute added. “This Commission will put adaptation at the center of the development agenda, encouraging governments and businesses to urgently prepare for our changing world.”

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