Vulnerabilities driven by climate change are affecting people across our global community, in diverse ways, but increasingly as part of their everyday experience. The V20 Ministerial Dialogue on Adaptation, held at World Bank Headquarters earlier this month, addressed the need to accelerate adaptation, reduce vulnerability, and establish ongoing means of support for financial and institutional resilience, to “climate-proof economic growth” and sustainable shared prosperity.

Climate disruption is making already vulnerable communities more vulnerable to extreme weather, drought, floods, and other drivers of instability. Overall food-system integrity and security are at risk, due to rapidly intensifying climate impacts. Financial protection is needed to guard against spiraling cycles of degradation, vulnerability, harm, and cost.

Minister Benson Wase, Finance Minister of the Republic of Marshall Islands, is the current chair of the V20. Minister Wase called for nations and institutions at the table to work together to dramatically scale up finance, better balance long-term imperatives against short-term pressures, and remove capital constraints, to reduce risk and expand financial protection.

Kristalina Georgieva, CEO of the World Bank Group and co-chair of the Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA), said the World Bank is committed to preventing the worst outcomes, increasing financing for both mitigation and adaptation, and doubling its overall climate-related investments. She called the GCA “a commission of action”, citing its 6 action tracks, and the need to work, as a global community to measure the value of reducing vulnerability and building resilience.

As Hilda Heine, President of the Marshall Islands and Chair of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, and Dr. Patrick Verkooijen, CEO of the Global Center on Adaptation and CVF Managing Partner, recently wrote in the Washington Post:

With sea level rise projected to accelerate, and with a high likelihood of rising by more than one foot by 2050, if we do not live in coastal communities, we will likely be welcoming migrants from them. We are all Marshallese now.

Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and former President of Chile, noted that displacement, migration, and vulnerability to worsening impacts are creating the risk of conflict over basic resources. She described 17 extreme events affecting her home country, and the corresponding need for coordinated, investable strategies for resilience-building. She said all those who talk of fiscal stability need to account for climate vulnerability and outlined how Chile’s Marine Protected Areas (the 3rd most extensive in the world) provide real protection for the Chilean people, economy and ecosystems.

I was at the table to represent stakeholders working through the Citizens’ Climate Lobby — a network of 120,000 citizen volunteer policy advocates in 48 countries, on 6 continents. Since 2015, we have co-convened a series of diplomatic rountdables called the Acceleration Dialogues.

The main work product is Resilience Intel — a collaborative innovation effort to network Earth science insights to finance, to support mainstream investment in climate and sustainable development outcomes. The result of this effort will be to make the macro-critical (economy-shaping) Resilience Value a core market interest, built into the way we value money, investments, and projected returns.

‘Resilience intelligence’ is an overall term for the work of assessing how effectively we are future-proofing investments, human settlements, and whole societies. The Resilience Intel Charter is online at Image credit: Joseph Robertson.

By its nature, adaptation takes place at varying speeds, on every front:

  • The Maldives are 3D-printing reefs, to protect ocean ecosystems.
  • Bangladesh is dealing with severe flooding, both in low-lying coastal regions and in the north, where Himalayan glacial melt creates sunny-day flooding, along with soil erosion and reduced water security.
  • Costa Rica describes a fight on two fronts: the struggle to catch up to the accelerating pace of adaptation needs and the race to keep global warming to 1.5ºC.
  • Sri Lanka faces the prospect of living standards declining by 7.5%, due to under-investment in adaptation.

Solutions are emerging:

  • Matthew Rycroft of the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID) outlined a need for more finance to flow to the most vulnerable, citing resilient infrastructure, nature-based solutions, resilience-building and disaster risk reduction, as priorities.
  • The World Bank is creating an integrated resilience rating, which when aligned with other metrics will help to ensure adaptation investments are achieving measurable benefits.
  • The Global Commission on Adaptation is working, across all of these challenge areas, to establish a unified, outcome-focused adaptation taxonomy, to allow for greater sharing of best practices, innovations, and financial resources.
  • The Secretary General’s Special Representative and CEO of Sustainable Energy for All, Rachel Kyte, said her team are working with 70 facilities and funds to bring affordable clean energy to everyone, creating new adaptation and resilience potential.
  • The InsuResilience Global Partnership is working to ensure risk-reduction knowledge is widely and effectively shared “to strengthen the resilience of developing countries and protect the lives and livelihoods of poor and vulnerable people against the impacts of disasters.”

Regional capacity building is critical to ensure we can achieve meaningful financial protection in the face of escalating risk and disaster, and stakeholder participation in decision-making processes is critical to ensure investment priorities are aligned with experience at the human scale. Resilience Intel aims to connect a network of regional and sectoral knowledge exchanges, or “situation rooms”, to build capacity, invite stakeholder input, and normalize climate intelligence.

As Pres. Heine and Dr. Verkooijen put it: “We are all Marshallese now”. And, we are all explorers; like the Marshall Islands, we must all now explore new ways of doing business, include resilience-building in all investment strategies, and share knowledge, resources, and vulnerability reduction strategies.