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World leaders express firm support for climate adaptation action

The Climate Adaptation Summit (CAS) 2021, hosted by the Netherlands, has brought a breath of fresh air into the fight against climate change. More than 30 world leaders expressed their firm support for climate adaptation action and various concrete initiatives and enhanced ambitions from governments, development banks, institutions and cities were launched.

Both the largest polluters, China and the US committed to the obligations made in the Paris Agreement.

The new US Climate Envoy, John Kerry, assured world leaders that the Biden-administration has made international climate action a top priority and will help promote more ambition in adaptation and resilience.

“We are proud to be back”, Mr Kerry said. “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.”

He announced the US will focus on better climate data, more funding for adaptation and resilience, improving adaptation programs and promoting cooperation between the private sector and affected communities.

Shares of climate finance to be allocated to adaptation and resilience

However, to turn ambitions into reality, more investments are needed. The UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called for 50 per cent of the total share of climate finance provided by all donors and multilateral development banks to be allocated to adaptation and resilience.

In an important move, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva announced that the Intentional Monetary Fund is increasing coverage of climate actions in its annual country economic assessments and will incorporate climate risks in its financial sector assessments. The IMF will also scale up capacity development to support member countries with climate-related skills and announced the launching of a new data initiative to help countries track climate change risks and policies.

“The IMF is ramping up support for the policies, investment plans and skills countries need to strengthen their response to climate change,” said Mrs Georgieva. “Reducing emissions and building resilience is a four times win – good for growth and jobs, for health and for our planet. For us, it is mission critical. We need all hands on deck.”

Also, the World Bank Group committed to maintaining the share of its total climate finance that is earmarked for climate adaptation to at least 50 per cent.

Europe’s part

In Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel committed a total of 270 million euros extra budget for climate adaptation, in support of vulnerable communities.

“We are doing our part”, she said.

Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte reiterated that all Dutch public finance continues to be equally focussed 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,” he pointed out. “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”.

The Race to Resilience campaign

“Building resilience into our economies and societies is absolutely urgent and it is essential if we are to protect human lives and livelihoods from the effects of our changing climate,” said COP26 President, Alok Sharma, announcing the launch of the Race to Resilience campaign.

The Race to Resilience campaign will mobilise businesses, investors, cities, civil society and others to act, bringing together initiatives with the aim of building the resilience of 4 billion people across the world – that’s representing over half of the world’s population – by 2030.

In this regard, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson launched the Adaptation Action Coalition, a group of leading nations that will be working with the Race to Resilience initiative and the UN Climate Action team towards COP26 later this year. In partnership with Egypt, Bangladesh, Malawi, the Netherlands, Saint Lucia and the UNDP, the Coalition will aim to accelerate efforts to turn political commitment into tangible action on the ground to support those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

“Let 2021 be the year that we fight back not just against climate change, but the effects of climate change that are already being felt”, said Mr Johnson.

Cities are key to accelerating adaptation action

In particular, cities are key to accelerating adaptation action globally as, by 2050, 70 per cent of the world’s population will live in urban areas. On behalf of global cities and a new coalition of partners, Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb of the City of Rotterdam announced the 1000 Cities Adapt Now (1000CAN) program which will be helping 1,000 cities adapt to climate change over the next ten years.

In the Central and Eastern European region, Tirana, Istanbul and Athens have been selected to be part of the Influencing Cities, whose role is to endorse and support the 1000 Cities Adapt Now global program, share knowledge, advocate for climate resilience regionally and globally and connect to relevant networks and partners.

Photo: CAS 2021.

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