Global Commission on Adaptation Launches “Year of Action” to Accelerate Climate Adaptation

Original press release here.

The International Research Institute for Climate and Society joined more than 75 governments, institutions, civil society organizations, and private sector actors as partners to advance eight Action Tracks, focused on: Finance and Investment, Food Security and Agriculture, Nature-Based Solutions, Water, Cities, Locally-led Action, Infrastructure, and Preventing Disasters.

Building on the momentum of the UN Climate Action Summit, the Global Commission on Adaptation is launching a Year of Action to accelerate and scale climate adaptation solutions. The Commission is led by Ban Ki-moon, 8th Secretary General of the United Nations; Bill Gates, Co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; and Kristalina Georgieva, CEO of the World Bank.

At an event at the UN headquarters, Commission leaders and partners are launching eight Action Tracks that focus on the following areas: Finance and Investment, Food Security and Agriculture, Nature-Based Solutions, Water, Cities, Locally-Led Action, Infrastructure, and Preventing Disasters. Together, these actions form a comprehensive platform for urgent, bold and equitable adaptation.

More than 75 national governments, multilateral banks, civil society organizations and private sector actors have signed on to support and deliver on these initiatives. The Commission and its partners will mobilize political, technical, and financial support for adaptation, through both existing initiatives and new coalitions for change. The Action Tracks set ambitious targets to be achieved over the coming decade.

The Commission will champion this package of initiatives at the September 2019 UN Climate Action Summit and throughout the coming Year of Action, including at the Climate Adaptation Summit hosted by the Netherlands in October 2020.

Ban Ki-moon, 8th Secretary General of the United Nations and Chair of the Global Commission on Adaptation, said, “Without urgent action to help the world’s smallholder farmers we risk undermining our food security for generations to come. Today’s financial commitments are a positive step forward, but more must be done to ensure the world’s farmers are equipped for long-term sustainable, climate-smart production.”

The Year of Action builds on the landmark report from the Commission, released earlier this month, which calls for leaders to accelerate adaptation around the world. The report finds that investing in adaptation brings significant economic, environmental, and social benefits. Analysis by the Commission shows that investing $1.8 trillion in adaptation in just five areas can deliver $7.1 trillion in benefits between 2020 to 2030.

The International Research Institute for Climate and Society, part of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, partnered with the Global Commission on Adaptation, and contributed an important background paper on climate services to inform GCA’s landmark report.

The Action Tracks aim to raise the level of ambition on adaptation among countries, which is critical due to increasing impacts and damage caused by climate change. Under the Paris Agreement, countries are expected to come forward with enhanced national climate plans by COP26 in 2020. The Commission welcomes additional partners and support for these initiatives.

Following is a summary of the Action Tracks and supporting commitments by the Commission and partners to date.

ACTION TRACK: Food Security and Agriculture: This Action Track aims to increase funding and support to build the resilience of 300 million small-scale farmers around the world. To achieve this goal, the Commission and its partners will increase investment in agricultural research, expanding access to crucial farmer advisory services and information, as well as access to improved risk management and financial services that farmers need to adapt to climate change.

Specific initiatives include:

Double investment in the CGIAR system to support 300 million small-scale producers to adapt their farming systems, livelihoods and landscapes to be more climate resilient by 2030. At the UN Climate Action Summit, partners of the Commission announced over $790 million in financial commitments and support to the Food and Agriculture Action track’s goals, including from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank, the Netherlands, the World Bank, the European Commission, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, and the UK. Of this, around $650 million will go to the CGIAR. CGIAR has committed to collaborate with the Commission to integrate climate change across its new 10-year strategy.

Expand access to climate-informed digital advisory services for at least 100 million small-scale producers by 2030. The World Food Programme and Columbia University’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society announced a commitment to develop a blueprint to scale-up sustainable and equitable climate advisory services, including digital advisories, to strengthen the resilience of vulnerable smallholders in remote communities.

Expand access for at least 100 million small-scale producers to insurance, markets, finance and productive safety nets, as well as agro-ecological practices: The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) committed to support 60 million people in smallholder farming families to build climate-resilience by 2030 by improving access to agro-ecological practices, expanding climate-informed digital agricultural advisory services, access to markets, finance, and productive safety nets. In addition, BMZ together with partners of the InsuResilience Global Partnership commit to scale-up access to micro-insurance for 150 million beneficiaries by 2025.

ACTION TRACK: Finance and Investment: This Action Track aims to help make climate risks visible and actionable, significantly enhancing public and private investment in adaptation and promoting systemic change in fiscal and financial systems.

There are currently three main initiatives:

The Coalition for Climate-Resilient Investment (CCRI), launched at the UN Climate Action Summit, is a first-of-its-kind, private sector-led group that seeks to transform how infrastructure investment decisions are made. Over 15 major companies—with more than $5 trillion in balance sheet assets under management—have signed on (and more are expected) to develop a common approach to assess, integrate, and price climate risks to incentivize resilient infrastructure investments.

A program to help countries better integrate climate risks into their planning, budgetary and fiscal decision-making. This initiative will focus on mainstreaming climate risk into how governments understand and manage the economic impacts of climate change on jobs, growth, and budgets. It will support the work of several international platforms, including the Coalition of Finance Ministers, the Vulnerable 20 Group of Ministers of Finance of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (V20), the Africa Adaptation Initiative, and others.

A year-long working group to deepen research and practice on the economics of adaptation, creating decision-friendly tools to understand climate risks and plan responses, whether policy-based or investments.

ACTION TRACK: Nature-Based Solutions: This Action Track aims to reduce climate risks for hundreds of millions of people by 2030 via nature-based solutions and increased ecological resilience. This Action Track aligns with the Nature-Based Solutions for Climate Manifesto presented at the UN Climate Action Summit. The Commission, Canada and other partners will mobilize political and private sector leadership—at both the national and city level—to implement large-scale, coordinated approaches to nature-based solutions.

ACTION TRACK: Water: This Action Track aims to increase the resilience of natural and managed freshwater systems and the critical human systems dependent upon water, reducing risks for over 2.5 billion people. More than 30 partners—including public, private, and civil society institutions—have already pledged their support for the Action Track, committing to action in over 15 countries, 40 basins, and 60 cities through existing and planned resources.

The Water action track has three priority initiatives:

Water Resilience Preparedness: To assist at least 50 countries to address climate change risks in their water systems.

Resilient Basin Futures: To support efforts in at least 100 river and groundwater basins to plan and finance climate adaptation and resilience measures from source to sea.

City Water Resilience: To support at least 100 cities to develop and implement integrated urban water resilience planning and investments to address vulnerabilities in water-related infrastructure and management.

ACTION TRACK: Resilient Cities: This Action Track aims to put in place inclusive policies, projects, and structures that will deliver climate-resilient cities by 2030. The Action Track includes initiatives focused on building the climate resilience of the urban poor and expanding national and international investment in climate-resilient cities. In collaboration with UN-Habitat and Shack /Slumdwellers International, the Building Climate Resilience of the Urban Poor initiative will help 150 million urban poor adapt to climate change in informal settlements by 2023. It will identify 140 “hotspot” cities in 50 developing countries where the initiative could support climate-smart resilient spatial planning, infrastructure improvement and enhance livelihoods.

In addition, this action track will:

Secure Commitments and action from political leaders of Global Cities to implement climate adaptation solutions to provide the resilience necessary for a 3-degree C world;

Make the case for national support to deliver adaptation action in cities;

Increase financial flows towards climate-resilient development by mobilizing additional resources and promoting systemic change in fiscal and financial systems; and

Support cities to build the internal capacity required to deliver action on climate adaptation.

ACTION TRACK: Locally-led Action: This Action Track aims to encourage governments and funders to expand financial resources available to local governments, community-based organizations, and others working at the local level so that they can better identify, prioritize, implement, and monitor climate adaptation solutions, as well as to empower local groups to have greater influence on decision making on adaptation priorities. The Commission will collaborate with international climate funders and multilateral institutions, governments, and civil society organizations to expand the amount and quality of funding available for adaptation action.

ACTION TRACK: Infrastructure: This Action Track seeks to ensure that, by 2025, all significant new and retrofit infrastructure is climate resilient. The Commission will focus on the following initiatives:

International cooperation to build capacity for resilient infrastructure. The Netherlands is convening an initiative to strengthen capacity and knowledge for climate-resilient infrastructure, which will be launched at COP25, in Santiago, Chile. The initiative will bring together governments, businesses, international institutions and other experts, and will be developed with the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure and the Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment. It will include a technical assistance component undertaken by UN Office for Project Services, UN Environment Programme, and the Oxford Environmental Change Institute.
Increasing the uptake of financial protection: The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), in collaboration with the InsuResilience Global Partnership and Global Risk Financing Facility will support the uptake of risk finance and insurance mechanisms for critical infrastructure to ensure rapid recovery after extreme events and facilitate private investment, as part of broader financial protection strategies.

ACTION TRACK: Preventing Disasters: This Action Track aims to rapidly scale-up investments across the disaster risk chain to improve people’s ability to act ahead of extreme weather events, reduce deaths and human suffering, and lessen economic impacts.

The Action Track includes initiatives focused on scaling-up investment in people-centered early warning systems; expanding forecast-based financing and action in the humanitarian sector; and strengthening national social protection systems and the coherence of disaster management and adaptation policies. The Action Track will be a key delivery mechanism for the Risk-Informed Early Action Partnership (REAP) and is supported by the IFRC, WMO, World Bank, Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, World Food Programme, UN Office of Disaster Risk Reduction, UN Development Programme, and the African Development Bank.