GCA: Accelerate Adaptation to Transcend Crisis

Global Commission on Adaptation launches today, with a high-level event and stakeholder dialogue at The Hague.

The IPCC has issued its Special Report on the science of keeping global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. The IPCC report, which was requested by all 195 countries at the 2015 Paris climate negotiations, makes clear:

  1. We are experiencing major impacts, earlier than previously suspected, and the situation is rapidly worsening.
  2. To avoid deep destabilization, at planetary scale, the most widespread collaborative innovation effort ever undertaken by humankind is required.

The world is facing escalating risk from geophysical change, but also from the challenge of adapting to a project of universal innovation at record speed. Critical climate-smart innovations will affect energy, farming, construction, transport, industry, infrastructure, and even banking. Adaptive capacity needs to be expanded, everywhere, at all levels.

Today at The Hague, a high-level gathering launched the Global Commission on Adaptation.

The Commission will be co-chaired by Ban Ki-moon, Kristalina Georgieva, and Bill Gates, work across all relevant issue areas, in local context and at the scale of planetary systems, leading to a Year of Action to mobilize political, financial, and human capital to accelerate adaptation globally and at the human scale, by 2020.

World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva said serving as one of the co-chairs on the Global Commission “very well may be the most important call to public service” she has answered. She pushed back against those who say adaptation is surrender, saying instead “it is a defense against the forces of nature that are already affecting us.”

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

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.

Not only is building adaptive capacity and resilience vital for reducing risk; adaptation to climate-smart standards and practices will generate a lot of new opportunity for economic development and prosperity.

  • Low-cost climate-smart energy systems will be deployed in communities that now have no reliable source of electricity.
  • This will allow for the spread the observational capabilities that allow us to better know the state of health of Earth systems, but will also provide for a rapid expansion of human capital in those communities.
  • Effective adaptation will ensure local economic development is less prone to collapse in the face of nonlinear threats, providing a more stable foundation for ongoing development and investment.

Dr. Patrick Verkooijen, CEO of the Global Center on Adaptation, which along with the World Resources Institute serves as a managing partner supporting the Commission, said:

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.

Cited as “the key architect and the initiator of the Global Commission on Adaptation”, Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, the Netherlands’ Minister of Infrastructure and Water, put the mission in perspective, saying:

Tomorrow, we put our shoulders to the wheel, as we set to work on a colossal challenge — one of the biggest challenges our world has ever seen, adapting ourselves to the harsh reality of climate change.

Christiana Figueres — who served as Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change during the process of designing and securing the Paris Agreement — said we must transcend the thinking that limits adaptation investment to public spending and philanthropy. She called for new business models that make clear the unprecedented opportunity of climate-smart investment, and so integrate mainstream private-sector investment into adaptation finance.

Investing intelligently for a climate-resilient future will make the difference between a world where destabilizing climate impacts undermine human wellbeing comprehensively and a world where human potential can be fully developed and deployed to achieve prosperity for everyone. The stakes could not be higher.

One stakeholder, during the day’s working dialogue, noted: “We have never lived in times like this before.”

To meet this historic challenge, the Global Commission on Adaptation will convene a coalition of governments, experts, business innovation leaders, and stakeholders, to work along seven Action Tracks:

  1. Achieving climate-resilient agriculture, food and rural livelihood security
  2. Financing adaptation
  3. Building climate resilience into global supply chains
  4. Investing in climate-resilient infrastructure
  5. Building urban resilience
  6. Investing in climate-resilient social protection
  7. Scaling up nature-based solutions for adaptation

As climate impacts worsen, and risk and damage are compounded, the world is in a race against time. Macro-critical (economy-shaping) influences — like climate disruption, sustainable agriculture, access to education, and resilient infrastructure — must be understood, considered, and made central to present and future planning or trillions of dollars of public spending and private-sector investment could be wasted.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby represented the voices of more than 100,000 citizen volunteers across 44 countries, working to empower public officials to lead ambitiously and responsibly, to achieve transformational climate solutions. The CCL sense of the room was: adaptive capacity is human capital, and human capital that is resistant to climate shocks is what will achieve a livable future on this planet.

17 Convening Countries are supporting the Global Commission on Adaptation, at the level of president or prime minister:

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

A full list of the Commissioners can be found here.

Resilience Intel commits, today, to align its networking of Earth systems data to finance with the ambition of the Global Commission on Adaptation. We can achieve a future in which no investment generates climate damage. We start the most complicated, human part of that work, today.

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