Two and a half millennia ago, Plato announced that “Human behavior flows from three things: desire, emotion, and knowledge.” Unfortunately, our human and corporate behavior on climate change is not even close to where it needs to be. But if the great philosopher was right (and he usually was), 2013 may have been a game changer.
The big news from 2013 came from gains in knowledge. New tools and research are opening our understanding much wider than before. But will we act on this? Knowledge can spur action, but this path is not guaranteed.
This is the final installment of WRI’s blog series, Adaptation and the Private Sector. Each post explores ways to engage the private sector in helping vulnerable communities adapt to the impacts of climate change.
As the impacts of climate change become ever-clearer, so does the challenge of adaptation. While the World Bank estimates that developing countries will need $70-$100 billion annually through 2050 to adapt to climate change, the public sector alone cannot meet this financial goal. Rather, the world needs the human, technical, and financial resources of the private sector to help bridge this significant adaptation finance gap and make vulnerable communities more climate-resilient.
National governments have a critical role to play in supporting and stimulating private sector investment in adaptation. In order to engage the private sector in helping vulnerable populations prepare for the effects of climate change, developing country governments can take three types of actions:
Three major financial institutions and two of the world’s largest food and beverage companies are driving improved water management using data from Aqueduct’s Water Risk Atlas. This list includes: Anheuser-Busch InBev, the leading global brewer; Nestlé, the world’s largest food and beverage company; LGIM, one of Europe’s largest institutional asset managers; one of the world’s largest banks; and one of the world’s largest pension fund managers.
Water risks—such as floods, drought, and increased competition for scarce water resources—are increasingly chipping into corporate bottom lines. The financial sector is taking notice, as companies and investors seek robust and comprehensive data to inform their decision-making processes. Previously, water risk had not been widely incorporated into financial risk assessments or business strategies, primarily because of a lack of awareness of business vulnerability to water risks, poor data, and uncertainty on how to use what information was available.
In January 2013, WRI launched the Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas, a comprehensive water risk mapping tool that highlights water risk hotspots for a company’s direct operations and supply chains. Using a scientific approach, the tool is transparent, robust, and is translated into a set of easy-to-use water risk indicators and maps. Within six months from launch, the uptake of Aqueduct’s data by investors and companies has steadily increased, as has use by governments, academic, and civil society groups.
Some of the world’s biggest global companies, funds, and investors are driving improved local water management, thanks Aqueduct’s information. Investors like LGIM are increasingly using Aqueduct water risk data to inform investment decisions, and multinational industry leaders like Nestlé and AB InBev are adopting Aqueduct’s Water Risk Atlas as a critical component of their corporate water strategies. The popularity of the Aqueduct tool provides strong evidence that:
The investment community’s water-related risk awareness is growing;
Investors can become key drivers for improved corporate water management worldwide; and
Major multinational companies are incorporating water into business strategies to drive action on the ground and reduce shared water risks in watersheds.
One of the biggest successes from 2009’s COP 15 conference was securing funding for climate change adaptation and mitigation in developing countries. Donor nations agreed to “provide new and additional resources […] approaching $30 billion for the period 2010–2012, with balanced allocation between adaptation and mitigation.” They also committed to mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020.
But the agreement left a key question unresolved: how should funding be “balanced” between adaptation and mitigation? Should the funding balance be 50/50 between adaptation and mitigation or should it based on each country’s needs? Should funding include both private and public sector investment? These are some of the questions that negotiators will need to address during COP 19 in Warsaw.
But whatever they decide as being a “balanced commitment,” one thing is clear: finance for adaptation needs to increase in the coming years.
A year after its inaugural meeting, the Board of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) left its fifth meeting in Paris earlier this month with a collective sense of urgency. The GCF is expected to become the main vehicle for disbursing climate finance to developing nations, so the decisions made at this most recent meeting significantly impact the future of climate change mitigation and adaptation. Encouragingly, Board members stepped up to the important task before them, making progress across several key issues. Their decisions made it clear: The GCF’s inception phase (referred to officially as "the interim period") is over—the focus now is on funding it and launching its operations.
Expectations are running high as the Board of the Green Climate Fund prepares for its fifth meeting in Paris this week. The GCF must make progress towards five key issues at next week’s meeting in Paris.
The world continues to see the “costs” of fossil fuel use in the form of climate change impacts like heat waves, floods, and extreme weather. While these costs are often overlooked in traditional economic modeling, a new book from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) quantifies them.
While working on tracking adaptation finance for our Adaptation Finance Accountability Initiative project, we often get the question “What is adaptation finance?” or “What counts as adaptation finance?” To our embarrassment, we still don’t have a clear answer to either question, other than “Well… finance that funds efforts to adapt to the impacts of climate change qualifies as adaptation finance.”
We decided to do some soul-searching on this subject. While it’s still too complicated to provide a cut-and-dry definition of adaptation finance, we identified three common traits surrounding the issue: Adaptation finance is context-specific, dynamic, and not just about finance.