The Opening Session Addressed by world leaders such as UN Secretary-General and his former counterpart. Credit: CAS 2021

New Adaptation Action Agenda formulated to pave way for accelerating climate adaptation action for the coming decade

The two-day virtual conference this week, Climate Adaptation Summit, has seen a number of ideas and initiatives in the field of climate adaptation and resilience introduced and shared among participants and world leaders, plus pledges in the field of financing and funding, accumulatively shaping the new framework for concerned parties to work on over the next ten years

Hosted by the Netherlands with over 18,000 participants worldwide having registered as well as more than 100 world leaders, ministers, and leading organisations having attended, the event has ended with the new agenda on adaptation action taking shape with a number of initiatives and ideas as well as financial pledges contributed as the jumpstart.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said since the opening session on Monday that the world was now witnessing unprecedented climate extremes and volatility, which have been affecting lives and livelihoods on all continents, citing the statistics by the World Meteorological Organization, which show more than 11,000 climate and water-related disasters over the past 50 years at a cost of some $3.6 trillion, and more than 410,000 deaths in the past decade alone in low and middle- income countries. 

That, he said, was the reason why he has called for a breakthrough on adaptation and resilience while adding on the needs to boost more funding to support the work, at least 50% of the contributions. 

“Adaptation cannot be the neglected half of the climate equation,” he said while encouraging more of climate-resilient budget allocations and investment decisions, scaling-up of financial instruments and capacities in risk-prone countries, as much as easier financial access.

Last but not least, the UN Secretary-General called for the needs to support regional adaptation and resilience initiatives. 

“Support for adaptation and resilience is a moral, economic and social imperative,” he said.

The new ideas and initiatives and pledges have been contributed to the agenda following 12 key work areas ranging from finance, nature-based solutions, agriculture and food, water and others.

Among the promising initiatives especially in the field of the needed finance and nature-based solutions are;

*The Adaptation Finance Mainstreaming Program launched by the Global Commission on Adaptation for middle and low-income developing countries to improve their capacity to understand and manage climate risk

*The Global Ecosystem-based Adaptation Fund, which is supported by Germany and implemented by UNEP and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) with an initial capitalization of 15 million euros.

* The Rural Resilience Program (2RP) with the enhanced Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Program (ASAP+) as a key pillar by the International Fund for Agricultural Development

*The Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), which has approved a $2 million novel project to support the monetary valuation of Nature-Based Infrastructure (NBI), to demonstrate the economic case and catalyze more public and private investment

* The private sector‐led Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment (CCRI) led by UNEP, which is committed to the development and testing of solutions for resilient investment decision‐making. 

*Green bonds for climate resilience by a new Collaborative on Accelerating Investment in Adaptation and Resilience.

US Climate Envoy John Kerry joins the summit online.
Credit: CAS 2021

The return of the US

On the spotlight at the summit was the return of the US to the global climate arena.

Attended by the US Climate Envoy, John Kerry, the world summit was assured that the new Biden administration will make international climate action a top priority and will help promote more ambition in adaptation and resilience.

Mr. Kerry said the world has reached a point where it is an absolute fact that it’s cheaper to invest in preventing damage or minimising it, at least, than cleaning up, citing the incidents of three storms in one year, which cost the US more than $ 265 billion.

He revealed that the US is working on a nationally determined contribution (an NDC required by the Paris Agreement) for emissions reductions to 2030 to meet such the urgency and challenge.

The administration also intends to make a significant investment in climate action both domestically and as part of the country’s Build Back Better from Covid-19, and internationally.

In his views, driving towards the net zero emissions no later than 2050 and keeping the 1.5 degrees within reach remain the best policy for climate resilience and adaptation in the long term.

But at the same time, the world will has to also build resilience to protect communities from the impacts of the climate change.

“Some of the impacts are inevitable because of the warming which is taking place, but if we don’t act boldly and immediately by building resilience, we are likely going to see dramatic reversals in economic development for everybody, and poor and vulnerable communities will pay the highest price,” said the US Climate Envoy.

So, the US will work on three fronts; to promote ambitions, resilience, and adaptation. These would be done through leverage of the US’s innovations and climate data and information to promote understanding and management of climate risks especially in developing countries, increasing flows of finance for adaptation and resilience, improving quality of adaptation and resilience programmes, and promoting collaboration between the private sector and affected communities, theEnvoy said.

“We are proud to be back. We come back with humility for the absence of the last four years and we’ll do everything in our power to make up for it,” said Mr. Kerry.

His Chinese counterpart, Vice-Premier Han Zheng, meanwhile, called on the international community to redouble their national adaptation efforts and to implement the adaptation commitments made in the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The International Monetary Fund, of which its Managing Director Georgieva represented, pledged to increase coverage of climate actions in its annual country economic assessments, as well as incorporate climate risks in its financial sector assessments. 

“The IMF is ramping up support for the policies, investment plans and skills countries need to strengthen their response to climate change. Reducing emissions and building resilience is a four times win – good for growth and jobs, for health and our planet”, Ms. Georgieva said.

The World Bank, meanwhile, committed to maintaining the share of its total climate finance that is earmarked for climate adaptation to at least 50%. 

For the Netherlands, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that all Dutch public finance continues to be equally focused on mitigation and adaptation. 

“The Kingdom of the Netherlands is made up of a low-lying delta by the North Sea and several small islands in the Caribbean. So, we know that accelerating climate adaptation action around the globe is essential. 

“That’s why the Netherlands is ensuring that its climate finance is equally balanced between mitigation and adaptation. And I hope that more and more countries will raise their climate financing for adaptation to match their financing for mitigation”, MR. Rutte said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, meanwhile, said the UK has launched the Adaptation Action Coalition, a group of leading nations that will be working with the Race2Relience initiative and the UN Climate Action team towards COP26 later this year. 

This is to accelerate efforts to turn political commitment into tangible action on the ground to support those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. 

Credit: CAS 2021