Climate change is already a reality, and its impacts are getting more severe every year. Global actions to slow climate change are promising, but insufficient. While action to prevent the worst impacts of climate change are important, decision-makers must also invest in a massive effort to adapt to conditions that are now inevitable: higher temperatures, rising seas, fiercer storms, more unpredictable rainfall and more acidic oceans. 

Facing this challenge, in 2018, the Government of the Netherlands established the Global Commission on Adaptation. Co-managed by World Resources Institute and the Global Center on Adaptation, the Commission served to raise the visibility of climate adaptation on the global agenda and advance concrete solutions. 

For more on WRI’s contributions to the Commission, read our comprehensive outcomes report, Catalyzing Adaptation.

The Commission had two key phases:  

1. Developing a Flagship Report to Set a Bold Vision for Adaptation 

The Commission developed a flagship report, Adapt Now: A Global Call for Leadership on Climate Resilience, laying out a bold agenda to build a more climate-resilient world. The report presented new economic analysis that showed the high returns on investment of adaptation solutions. 

WRI led the development of the report, with significant input from Commissioners and partners. The report was informed by over 30 background papers on various adaptation topics produced on behalf of the Commission.    

Adapt Now was published in September 2019, alongside a global communications campaign coordinated by WRI, just ahead of the United Nations Climate Action Summit. The campaign led to 9 in-person launch events, over 150 news articles and the single biggest moment of online engagement on adaptation, reaching potentially 269 million people. 

2. Implementing Recommendations from the Report in a Year of Action 

In 2019, at the UN Climate Action Summit, the Commission launched a Year of Action to implement the recommendations from Adapt Now and accelerate the necessary transitions for change.  

The Commission mobilized more than 200 partners across eight action tracks. Specifically, the Commission and its partners made progress in mainstreaming adaptation in agriculture and in financial decision-making, jumpstarted adaptation action in cities, elevated city and country nature-based solution leaders and built a growing movement around locally led adaptation. Additionally, the Commission helped catalyze new financial commitments of over $790 million to enhance resilience of more than 300 million small-scale food producers. 

In January 2021, the Global Commission on Adaptation formally concluded at the Climate Adaptation Summit, hosted by the Dutch government. 

Governments and institutions have only begun to put into action the bold agenda and recommendations from the Adapt Now report. Through our research, partnerships and initiatives on adaptation, World Resources Institute is continuing to advance critical efforts catalyzed by the Commission.