Climate Adaptation Summit calls for breakthrough on adaptation and resilience

During the two-day Climate Adaptation Summit on 25 and 26 January 2021 convened by the Netherlands, world leaders committed to increase support to protect vulnerable countries against climate change and ensure progress made is not reversed by the COVID-19 crisis.

At the summit, which saw the participation of both local and global leaders, including current UN Secretary-General António Guterres and former UN head Ban Ki-moon, a comprehensive Adaptation Action Agenda was launched, setting out clear commitments to deal with the effects of climate change, such as rising sea levels, extreme weather or crop failure.

In his opening remarks to the summit, Guterres said: “We must expand the (…) instruments to developing and middle-income countries that lack the resources to relaunch their economies in a sustainable and inclusive way.” He called on donor countries and development banks to significantly increase their spending for climate change adaptation and resilience.

Other European leaders attending the virtual summit, including French President Emmanuel Macron and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, gave their backing to this call. Johnson announced the launch of an Adaptation Action Coalition, in partnership with other countries and the United Nations “to turn international political commitments made through the UN Call for Action on Adaptation and Resilience into on-the-ground support for vulnerable communities,” according to a statement on the UK government website. German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for greater international cooperation, and assured developing countries of financial support.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who hosted the summit, said “for every dollar invested in climate resilient infrastructure, six dollars can be saved.” He cited how the Netherlands, a country of which a third lies below sea-level, had centuries of experience in keeping out water and hoped to be able to use this knowledge to help others.

We have the tools, skills and opportunity to deliver “more, faster and better” adaptation actions, Guterres concluded his remarks, hoping the summit would help “to secure the breakthrough on adaptation and resilience that is needed and that it leads to ambitious outcomes” at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP 26).

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