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Global Leaders Call for Urgent Action on Climate Adaptation

September 10, 2019 — The Global Commission on Adaptation released its flagship report today, as the Commissioners called on world leaders to accelerate climate adaptation. The report is being released with events in 10 location around the world, from the Marshall Islands and Fiji to Beijing, New Delhi, Geneva, Ottawa, Washington DC and Mexico City.

Read the report press release and the full report.


Following are statements by Commissioners and the Managing Partners:

High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights:

“Today, climate crisis affects countless lives and the enjoyment of a range of human rights. Ultimately, it threatens human survival. Under human rights law, States acting individually and collectively must address climate harms. Adaptation that respects, protects and fulfills human rights for all, starting with the most vulnerable, is imperative.”

Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director, Oxfam International

“For too long adaption has been treated by too many as less important than cutting emissions. This report shows we need both: much deeper and quicker cuts in emissions and much more help for vulnerable communities from the Bahamas to Mozambique who are struggling to survive in the face of this crisis. People on the front line of the climate crisis, who did least to cause it, have been largely abandoned by the international community. Rich countries must make good on their promises and provide urgently increased funds for adaptation—with spending led by the communities that need it most—if we are to avoid a climate apartheid where only the rich and powerful can afford to protect themselves.”

Peter Damgaard Jensen, CEO, PKA Ltd.:

“Climate change threatens the way of life all over the world. It is a challenge that cannot be resolved by governments alone. The private sector plays a key part in supporting the needed adaptation. By investing in solutions like climate-resilient infrastructure and financial inclusion we can help those who are most effected by the rising temperatures.”

Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change:

“This report by the Global Commission on Adaptation comes at a crucial time. Governments are preparing the next round of climate action plans under the Paris Agreement, to be formally submitted to the UN in 2020. We need those plans to be more ambitious than they are right now. While it’s vital that nations must work to reduce their emissions, leading to a climate-neutral world by 2050 it’s equally important that they also build resilience to the inevitable impacts of climate change. Let’s get to work on creating a safer, more resilient future.”

Christiana Figueres, Former Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change & Founding Partner, Global Optimism:

“As we witness the devastating impacts of climate change today, it is clear that we must both redouble efforts to dramatically cut emissions and adapt to our changing world. We cannot choose one or the other: We must do both. With bold leadership and strong commitment, we can advance adaptation solutions that will save lives and open new opportunities. This Global Commission is showing the way forward.”

President Hilda Heine, The Republic of the Marshall Islands

"The launch of the Commission report is especially timely and important for our atoll nation. The rising sea level threatens the habitability of our islands as soon as 2030. Despite these dire circumstances, the strategies and research outlined in this report are innovative and give us hope."

Mayor Anne Hidalgo, City of Paris:

“In order to tackle and adapt to climate change, we are transforming Paris to make it more resilient. We are restoring nature to its rightful place, as our best ally to create cool islands, which reduce heatwaves, and make the ground more permeable in the case of heavy rain.”

En Francais: “Pour résister aux dérèglements climatiques, nous transformons la ville pour la rendre plus résiliente. Nous redonnons toute sa place à la nature, notre meilleure alliée pour créer des îlots de fraîcheur en cas de fortes chaleurs et rendre perméables les sols en cas de pluies violentes.”

Minister Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, United Kingdom:

“The finance sector has a leadership role in reducing emissions and preparing for climate impacts. As recent events around the world have shown, severe floods, heatwaves, storms and droughts are the new normal. Climate resilient investments are sound investments and will help prevent future stranded assets.”

Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson, Global Environment Facility:

“The huge challenge inherent to adaptation is ‘uncertainty’ of future climate scenarios. Will we manage to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degree or we will end up in a much warmer world? Our response will be totally different, but we must take actions now without knowing the final scenario. One way to handle this uncertainty is for national and local governments, local academics, business and communities to collaborate more on planning and investment decisions. Only by working together will we find solutions which will leverage private sector investment at the pace and scale needed to address the climate crisis.”

Agnes Kalibata, President, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa:

“Smallholder farmers are Africa’s lifeline. They feed us—produce 80 percent of the food we eat, create jobs and our economies depend on them. However, their livelihoods are under threat from climate extremes that are destroying their crops, livestock, and landscapes and diminishing their ability to cope. We must support them to adapt; doing nothing is not a choice.”

Congresswoman Loren Legarda, Deputy Speaker and Antique Congresswoman, Philippines:

“There is no greater impetus for countries to implement adaptation measures than actually saving and improving lives. We have experienced massive losses from extreme weather events and disasters in the past, but zero-casualty that was once deemed unattainable is now achieved in some of our communities who have embraced adaptation as a way of life—attributable to a participatory and consultative relationship between the government and the people they serve.”

Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and Executive Chairman, Econet Wireless

"If we as Africans do not change our mindsets and take action now to adapt to our changing climate, we will further imperil the health, hope and prosperity of our families, our African nations, and even of human civilization. Governments, businesses and local communities all need to scale up their adaptation ambitions and accelerate action, without delay."

José Antonio Meade, Former Finance Minister, Mexico:

“The time for adaptation investments is now. Nature-based solutions across landscapes (mountains, forests and watersheds, rivers and wetlands, farmlands, cities, and coasts) can not only increase societal resilience but also trigger innovation, job creation, and biodiversity conservation. Forest and mangrove restoration, as well as urban tree planning, are examples of solutions that can have major benefits and profound effects on our environment's health.”

Minister Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Canada:

“From coast to coast to coast, Canadians are already taking action in their communities. We are providing the information and tools necessary to adapt and build resilience against the impacts of climate change.  I am proud to be part of the Global Commission, and share their commitment to protect the environment and grow the economy.”

Minister C.K. Mishra, Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, India:

“Climate change impacts are being felt here and now and require concerted global adaptation action to build resilience of communities, infrastructure, and ecosystems. Global adaptation response has to be impactful and equitable, with particular focus on the most vulnerable. India is spearheading domestic adaptation action through a dedicated adaptation fund, addressing adaptation needs across a range of sectors including agriculture, livestock, water and forestry.”

Prime Minister Keith Mitchell, Grenada:

“The region’s vulnerability to the impact of climate change is well documented. The need to build resilience is not only an urgent development imperative, it is also a fundamental requirement to ensure our survival as a people. We must pursue climate-smart development, as we forge ahead to build a climate-resilient Caribbean. As a convening country of the Global Commission on Adaptation, Grenada is committed to being a proponent of climate change adaptation.”

Minister Gerd Müller, Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany:

“The international community finally has to get serious about adaptation to climate change. Otherwise, millions of people are at risk of sliding back into hunger and poverty. The report published by the Global Commission on Adaptation today makes that very clear. More and more devastating storms, heavy rainfall and droughts are threatening the livelihoods of countless people. Millions of smallholders are already directly affected by climate change. By 2050, the number of people threatened by hunger solely as a result of climate change will increase considerably, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. We have the resources to help them adapt to climate change—new seeds, adjusted production methods and digital climate information systems. The time to act is now.”

Muhammad Musa, Executive Director, BRAC International:

“Learning from local communities is the most crucial part of understanding effective on-the-ground adaptation action. From boat schools to saline-resistant rice varieties, to community-based natural resource management for biodiversity conservation, all of the climate change adaption initiatives that BRAC is currently scaling up across Asia and Africa have started with learning from the people closest to the challenges.”

Minster Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management, the Netherlands:

“As a Commissioner of the Global Commission on Adaptation, I support this flagship report, which highlights the climate adaptation challenges the world faces. It also shows proven climate-resilient solutions that will inspire countries to adapt, like the delta approach we have in the Netherlands for protecting our coastal areas and river banks. This approach can be used as a blueprint for countries with similar river deltas.”

Sheela Patel, Chair, Shack/Slum Dwellers International:

“The challenge of social justice in our quest for climate change cannot fulfilled without adaptation ensuring that development works to transform the lives of the poor urban and rural—and they must participate centrally in the transformation we seek. The real litmus test of our Global Commission fulfilling its commitment towards adaptation is urban and rural women, and their communities, championing development change to scale that impacts climate change commitments. Let's make them our partners for change, not our beneficiaries."

Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Attorney-General and Minister for Economy, Fiji:

“The intensifying impacts of the climate crisis pose a threat to every nation on earth, and Pacific Island states face extreme vulnerabilities. We are taking our fate into our own hands in Fiji, leading by example with legislation and financing solutions to urgently adapt our economy. We stand ready—alongside the Global Commission on Adaptation—to rally governments, businesses and development organizations to back innovative and scalable adaptation strategies that save lives today and spare our world from future suffering.”

Feike Sijbesma, CEO, Royal DSM:

“This landmark report from the Global Commission on Adaptation introduces a clear agenda for a more climate resilient world. We need to work urgently on ambitious climate mitigation efforts and accelerated climate adaptation. We have to do more, faster, together. While governments must lead by setting climate-smart policies, companies can create a critical difference as positive change cascades through supply chains, and by unlocking solutions that outsmart the challenges.”

Andrew Steer, President and CEO, World Resources Institute: _“_The climate crisis is upon us. We have the capacity to tackle this challenge, but we must act with great urgency. Adaptation is one of the best investments that governments and businesses can make – for people and the economy. Done right, adaptation will save lives, reduce inequalities, protect nature, and enable people to thrive. We must adapt now.”

Administrator Achim Steiner, United Nations Development Programme:

“The poor, women, and indigenous peoples are often the most vulnerable to the impact that climate change is having in every corner of the globe. We need straightforward ways to help developing countries adapt to climate change—including through new and innovative methods that can be game-changers.”

Mayor Francis Suarez, City of Miami

“This report is an important step forward in advancing our collective efforts to create adaptive solutions to some of our most pressing issues. Miami continues to reinforce its pivotal role in shaping the future of resiliency through practical, innovative solutions. As the only U.S. mayor named to this Commission, I look forward to utilizing this report as an important resource to help elevate our city’s voice within the Commission as a climate solutions model for the world.”

Elhadj As Sy, Secretary General, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies:

“Climate change is not an abstract, future threat. It is a reality now for millions of people around the world who are suffering more frequent, more severe and more unpredictable disasters. The international community must urgently invest to protect vulnerable people. Early warning and preparedness save lives. We cannot feign ignorance nor look the other way: we must act now.”

Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General, World Meteorological Organization:

“Besides climate mitigation, it is essential to pay more attention to adaptation, since climate change with a growing amount of disasters will proceed at least until the second half of this century. A very powerful way to adapt is to invest in modern weather, climate and water services.”

Patrick Verkooijen, CEO, Global Center on Adaptation:

“Climate change is already here. We must adapt to its disruptive effects by doing everything possible to protect lives and livelihoods while seizing the opportunity to create and spread solutions that will make our world stronger and better equipped to deal with future climate challenges. Adaptation is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do as it generates economic, social and environmental benefits—a triple dividend.”

Shemara Wikramanayake, CEO, Macquarie Group Ltd.:

“The private and public sectors must work together to build climate adaptation into planning and investment decisions in infrastructure, energy provision and agriculture. Using data to price risks and create innovative financing structures will bring otherwise challenging projects into reality, improving resilience in supply chains and communities around the world.”

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