The former Secretary General Ban Ki-moon conveyed his transformative vision for climate resilience in Paris during UNFCCC COP21 December 2015, where he launched the UN Climate Resilience Initiative A2R. The initiative promotes three key capacities for climate resilience as a common frame for climate resilience in the UN System and for its partners to understand and manage climate risks and hazards at scale.
The successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development over the course of next 15 years will be defined by how well countries manage risks to sustainable development, particularly to climate change. A development agenda that forges even closer linkages between climate change, resilient and sustainable development and that accelerates the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction for delivering on the SDGs would comprise two main components: a low carbon world and resilient economic growth.
The Paris Agreement has committed Parties to keep the global average temperature increase to well below 2 degrees, and to make efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees. However, we are currently on a pathway to significantly more than 2 degrees, and the frequency and intensity of climate extreme events and climate variability are on the rise. Hence, achieving the Paris goals will be very challenging. Under these circumstances, action on climate resilience is more pressing than ever before.
The United Nations work on climate resilience has continued to draw upon a range of relevant concepts, including disaster risk reduction, prevention, climate change adaptation, social protection, and resilience. These concepts have evolved for different purposes in different contexts, often in isolation from each other, with usage varying by different communities of practice. Above all, they have differentiated application and meaning in key international policy processes such as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Paris Agreement on climate change, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the overarching 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This is leading to fragmentation and duplication of efforts in a world with growing population and decreasing resources aggravated by climate change.
Why focus on climate resilience?
People around the world are already affected by extreme weather events and long-term changes in climate. As the impacts increase, the economies of all societies will be affected, but the hardest hit will be the poorest and most vulnerable communities. To implement the Paris Agreement, and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, climate risks must be addressed. Strategies to manage the unavoidable and to avoid the unmanageable need to be implemented urgently and at scale
How to achieve climate resilience?
Climate resilience requires collaborative action to strengthen the capacity to anticipate climate risks and hazards, to absorb the impact of shocks and stresses and to reshape development pathways in the longer term. Climate resilience can be achieved by building these three essential capacities through measures such as: the adoption of comprehensive early warning and early action systems; the use of insurance and social protection measures; and longer term planning including for both grey and green infrastructure.