Political leaders need to change how they view adaptation to climate change. Working with high-profile champions, WRI and partners raised this essential concept’s political visibility with a major report and a Year of Action focused on driving progress on integrating it in key economic sectors including agriculture, cities, finance, water and the natural environment.

The Challenge

The impacts of climate change – higher temperatures, rising seas, fiercer storms, more unpredictable rainfall, more acidic oceans – are here and are intensifying, particularly for the world’s most vulnerable. Without further action on adaptation, climate change could push more than 100 million people into extreme poverty by 2030 and significantly reduce crop yields and cost coastal cities more than $1 trillion annually by 2050. Government efforts on adaptation have been piecemeal and fallen short of the scale and urgency required. Improving the climate resilience of communities, homes, businesses, farms and infrastructure requires a massive effort and bold decision making that strengthens the role of those most at risk in crafting policies that affect them.

WRI’s Role

With the Global Center on Adaptation, WRI co-manages the Global Commission on Adaptation, launched in 2018 to elevate the issue of climate resilience, build support, and accelerate action. Co-chaired by Ban Ki-moon, Bill Gates and IMF head Kristalina Georgieva, the Commission is convened by 23 countries and made up of 34 Commissioners who are leaders in government, business, science and development.

WRI led the team that authored the flagship report Adapt Now and managed the research teams commissioned to produce 15 background papers. The report outlines three revolutions needed to scale adaptation – in understanding, planning and finance – and finds that investing $1.8 trillion in five areas can deliver $7.1 trillion in net benefits by 2030. WRI organized a global launch campaign that helped elevate the political visibility of adaptation. Building on the report, the Commission enlisted more than 75 governments and organizations to support eight Action Tracks – the key systems of agriculture and food security, the natural environment, water, cities, infrastructure, disaster risk management, and finance, plus locally led adaptation –that were launched at the September 2019 UN Climate Action Summit.

The Outcome

The Commissioners have elevated the political profile of adaptation, in turn spurring significant new financial commitments and initiatives. In agriculture, this includes commitments of $790 million to enhance the resilience of over 300 million smallholder farmers. On finance, dozens of countries’ finance ministers are integrating climate risk into their work while companies across the investment value chain have joined the Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment. The African Development Bank, led by a Commissioner, announced it would boost its adaptation funding to $12.5 billion, half its total climate finance. Through the 2020 Year of Action, the Commission and its global coalition are working to mobilize political, technical and financial support for adaptation to jumpstart the critical transition to a more resilient world.