UNITED NATIONS, January 26 (IPS) – United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, addressing the Climate Adaptation Summit, We start this year with a heightened awareness of the importance of resilience. The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us that we cannot afford to ignore known risks.
Climatic disturbances are a risk that we are aware of. Science has never been clearer.
We are facing a climate emergency.
We are already experiencing unprecedented climatic extremes and volatility affecting lives and livelihoods on every continent.
According to the World Meteorological Organization, there have been more than 11,000 weather, climate, and water hazard disasters in the past 50 years, costing around $ 3.6 trillion.
Extreme weather and climate-related hazards have killed more than 410,000 people in the past decade, the vast majority in low- and low-middle-income countries. That’s why I called for a breakthrough in terms of adaptation and resilience.
We need the trillions of taxpayer dollars that fund recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic to fuel the low-carbon, resilient future we need.
But recovery cannot only be for the industrialized countries. We need to extend the provision of liquidity and debt relief tools to developing and middle-income countries that lack the resources to get their economies back on track in a sustainable and inclusive way.
I see five priorities for adapting and resilience.
First, donor countries and multilateral, regional and national development banks need to significantly increase the size and predictability of their funding for adaptation and resilience.
The latest report on the adaptation gap of the United Nations Environment Program calculates the annual adaptation costs in developing countries alone at 70 billion US dollars.
Those numbers are likely to be $ 140 billion in 2030, or eventually up to $ 300 billion, and between $ 280 billion and $ 500 billion in 2050. However, major gaps remain in financing adaptation in developing countries.
That is why I have called for 50 percent of the total share of all industrialized countries and multilateral development banks in climate finance to go to adaptation and resilience in developing countries. Adaptation cannot be the neglected half of the climate equation.
The African Development Bank set the bar in 2019 by providing more than half of its climate finance for adaptation. I call on all donors and multilateral development banks to commit to this goal by COP26 and to implement it by at least 2024.
I welcome Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s commitment today on behalf of the Dutch government. Let us remember that developed countries must meet the commitments made in the Paris Agreement to mobilize US $ 100 billion annually from private and public sources for containment and adaptation in developing countries.
Second, all budget allocations and investment decisions must be climate resilient.
The climate risk must be embedded in all procurement processes, especially for the infrastructure. Developing countries must have the support and tools necessary to achieve this. The United Nations system stands ready to support these efforts worldwide.
Third, we need to significantly expand existing disaster-triggered financial instruments, such as Caribbean Disaster Risk Insurance and African Risk Capacity.
I also call on donors, multilateral development banks and private financial institutions to work with vulnerable countries to develop new tools with innovation to incentivize investment in resilience building.
For every dollar invested in climate-resilient infrastructure, six dollars can be saved, as Prime Minister Mark Rutte just said.
Fourth, we need to facilitate access to finance, especially for the most vulnerable, and expand debt relief initiatives. The share of least developed countries and small island developing states in total climate finance remains low, accounting for only 14% and 2% of flows, respectively.
These countries are at the forefront of the climate crisis but face significant challenges in accessing climate finance to build resilience due to size and capacity constraints.
A concerted effort must be made to remove these obstacles.
Finally, we need to support regional adaptation and resilience initiatives.
This would enable debt-for-adjustment swaps, for example for the Caribbean or the Pacific Islands, and provide urgently needed liquidity for vulnerable countries in dire straits.
Support for adaptation and resilience is a moral, economic, and social imperative.
Even today, every third person is not adequately covered by early warning systems, and risk-informed early approaches do not correspond to the required scope.
As the Global Adjustment Commission shows, a warning just 24 hours before an upcoming storm or heat wave can reduce the resulting damage by 30 percent. We need to work together to ensure full global coverage through early warning systems to minimize these losses.
We have the tools, skills and opportunities to do “more, faster and better” adaptations. I hope that this summit will help achieve the necessary breakthrough in adaptation and resilience, and lead to ambitious results at COP26.
Let us live up to our responsibility and together change the course towards a sustainable, fair and resilient future.
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