A new initiative to accelerate climate adaptation solutions was launched this week by a group of world leaders led by Ban Ki-moon, Bill Gates and Kristalina Georgieva.
The Global Commission on Adaptation includes 17 convening countries and 28 commissioners from across the globe and every sector of development and industry.
As indicated in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C, 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 work of the Commission will 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.
“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,” said Ban Ki-moon, 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations.
“We are at a moment of high risk and great promise. We need policies to help vulnerable populations adapt and we need to ensure that governments and other stakeholders are supporting innovation and helping deliver those breakthroughs to the people and places that need them most,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“If everyone does their part, we can reduce carbon emissions, increase access to affordable energy, and help farmers everywhere grow more productive crops," Gates 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.” Read more: Special report highlights renewables as climate change solution
Cora Van Nieuwenhuizen, Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management, the Netherlands, and the initiating Commissioner said: “We are here to begin changing the course of history and to secure the future of our global societies. Climate change affects us all. We cannot wait for measures aimed at combating climate change to take effect.”
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 the 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 also will convene key champions, coalitions, the 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
Countries at the forefront of adaptation have taken the lead in creating the Global Commission on Adaptation.
The leaders of these countries are committed to working together to advance the work of the Commission, including:
- Canada China
- Costa Rica
- Marshall Islands
- Senegal South Africa
- United Kingdom
- Ban Ki-moon, 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations
- Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- Kristalina Georgieva, CEO, World Bank
- Hilda Heine, President, Marshall Islands
- Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister, Grenada
- Akinwumi Adesina, President, African Development Bank
- Elhadj As Sy, Secretary General, IFRC
- Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
- Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary, UNFCCC
- Christiana Figueres, Former Executive Secretary, UNFCCC
- Li Ganjie, Minister of Ecology and Environment, China
- Anne Hidalgo, Mayor, Paris
- Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, UK
- Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson, Global Environment Facility
- Peter Damgaard Jensen, CEO, PKA Ltd
- Agnes Kalibata, President, AGRA
- Loren Legarda, Chair, Senate Finance Committee, Philippines
- Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and Chairman, Econet Wireless
- José Antonio Meade, Former Finance Minister, Mexico
- Gerd Müller, Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany
- Muhammad Musa, Executive Director, BRAC
- Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management, Netherlands
- Sheela Patel, Chair, Slum/Shack Dwellers International
- Feike Sijbesma, CEO, Royal DSM
- Erik Solheim, Executive Director, UN Environment
- Francis Suarez, Mayor, Miami
- Andrew Steer, President and CEO, World Resources Institute
- Shemara Wikramanayake, CEO designate, Macquarie Group Ltd.
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. We have reached a point where adaptation is in our collective interest, with a strong economic case for action.
“Over the next two years, the Global Commission on Adaptation will demonstrate that adapting to climate change is not only essential but also an opportunity to change the way our societies plan and invest. It will provide the roadmap for what new actions are needed and what must be done differently to secure more sustainable economic development and security for all.”
“Once viewed as a distant, future threat, climate change is nowhere. As the new IPCC report makes abundantly clear, without urgent action, climate change will bring devastation to people’s homes, crops and businesses,” said Dr Andrew Steer, President & CEO, World Resources Institute.
“This Commission will put adaptation at the centre of the development agenda, encouraging governments and businesses to urgently prepare for our changing world,” Steer added.