What next for climate resilience after COP23?

GCA resilience group, including FAO, Global Resilience Partnership, Insurance Development Forum, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, IUCN, UN Environment and the World Bank

In opening the Resilience Day at COP23, Fiji’s Global Climate Champion, Minister Inia Seruiratu, underlined the importance of resilience and action saying: “Everyone needs to come together in unprecedented ways to tackle the challenges ahead of us. For all of us, but especially in vulnerable areas such as the Pacific, working together to build resilience is more urgent than ever before.”

Led by the Fijian Presidency, which included climate resilience in two of its six priorities for the conference, climate resilience was firmly on the action agenda at COP23[1] in Bonn in November. Announcements by Norway and the Lightsmith Group of new investments into climate resilience also demonstrated that concrete action on climate resilience is gaining momentum.

  Fiji’s Global Climate Champion, Minister Inia Seruiratu, speaking at the Resilience Day

Fiji’s Global Climate Champion, Minister Inia Seruiratu, speaking at the Resilience Day

What challenge?

Three high level events on climate resilience were held under the Marrakech Partnership on Global Climate Action:

1.      Unblocking investment into climate resilience.

2.      Why climate resilience matters for people in SIDS and other vulnerable countries.

3.      Working with nature to build climate resilient and sustainable development.

Bringing together leaders from across government, business, communities and civil society to raise the ambition for action on climate resilience, these events formed the Global Climate Action Resilience Day and were convened by the UN Climate Resilience Initiative A2R and its Partners.

Mary Robinson picked up the challenge set by Fiji saying “To build resilience effectively we must address the root causes of poverty, inequality and exclusion and put people at the centre of decision making”. Tasked with presenting solutions, participants at the roundtable on investment discussed how to increase investment, and not to shy away from being ambitious, going from billions to trillions of investment.

  Mary Robinson, President of the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice, challenging the participants of the investment roundtable to take ambitious action

Mary Robinson, President of the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice, challenging the participants of the investment roundtable to take ambitious action

Many highlighted the urgent need to simplify access to finance to ensure it reaches local communities. For example Filipe Nainoca of the Fiji Red Cross highlighted that the volunteers and the vulnerable communities they serve “often lack the very small amounts of money for critical high-value actions at the local level”.

  Filipe Nainoca, Director General of the Fiji Red Cross highlights the need to balance ambitious targets with small-scale investment in resilience

Filipe Nainoca, Director General of the Fiji Red Cross highlights the need to balance ambitious targets with small-scale investment in resilience

Emerging solutions

We need an expanded global commitment and investment, which in turn needs to go hand in hand with small-scale delivery to cities, businesses, communities, and families. We need to package investments, both project and pipeline, so that we go from the thousands to the millions of people. Progress is starting and the roundtable heard about two new investments into climate resilience:

  • Norway announced a joint new USD 400 million fund with Unilever to invest in business models that combine investments in high productivity agriculture, smallholder inclusion and forest protection for more resilient socioeconomic development.
  • The Lightsmith Group received commitments of USD 1.6 million from the Nordic Development Fund and the Global Environment Facility to support the launch of the first private investment fund focused on climate resilience.. This is the first public-private investment strategy for adaptation and climate resilience and was catalysed by the Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance.
  Vidar Helgesen, Minister of Climate and Environment of Norway announcing a new 400-million fund with Unilever

Vidar Helgesen, Minister of Climate and Environment of Norway announcing a new 400-million fund with Unilever

Why resilience matters?

The Resilience Day considered actions required across three key capacities for climate resilience: to anticipate climate risks and hazards, to absorb the impact of shocks and stresses and to reshape development pathways. Lessons learned and actions needed were highlighted across sectors.

The Hon. Minister Gale T. C. Rigobert of St. Lucia highlighted the experiences of rural women farmers in St Lucia who do not often qualify for loans, and the need to increase women’s access to finance in the agricultural sector threatened by climate risk.

Minister Mary Goretti Kitutu of Uganda reflected on the implementation of early warning systems that have improved the ability to predict hazards. The capacity of rural communities to adapt to climate impacts however remains an area where further action is needed

Rommel Lo from the Dumaguete Effata Association of the Deaf (DEAF) in the Philippines emphasized the need to involve vulnerable communities in decision-making by saying: “Over a tenth of the world’s population live with some form of disability, and are among the most vulnerable to disasters. For the deaf community, it is my hope that even if we cannot hear, we can still be heard.”

  The Hon. Gale Rigobert of St Lucia calling for increased access to finance for female farmers

The Hon. Gale Rigobert of St Lucia calling for increased access to finance for female farmers

Working with nature for climate resilience

Talking about the importance of nature-based solutions, H.E. Tommy Remengesau, President of Palau, expressed that “by protecting nature you not only protect your own country but more regions of the world are benefitting from such investment”.

H.E. Mrs. Lina Pohl, Minister of Environment, El Salvador highlighted that “the biggest challenge is to invest in nature, as not all understand the relation between economy and environment. Environment means economy and we have demonstrated that the constant economic loses were because of not working with nature, for not investing in nature, as investing in nature means to protect also the investments in grey infrastructure”.

Dr. Bregje van Wesenbeeck, from Deltares stressed the importance of implementing contextualized, research-based solutions for nature conservation and restoration to build climate resilience.  She made a call to work with nature-based solutions that even when more costly or less popular, on the long-term will provide bigger benefits for nature restoration.

Next steps

We now need to build on this momentum and address the challenges identified during the Resilience Day to meet the resilience-related ambitions of the Paris Agreement. This includes increasing investment, working with nature to build climate resilience, facilitating innovation and building new partnerships comprising governments, businesses, investors, international organizations, civil society and local stakeholders.

The UN Climate Resilience Initiative A2R and its Partners are making plans to do this and invite others to join them in three immediate areas:

  1. To work together under the Talanoa Dialogue so that it includes a substantive discussion on resilience and actions on resilience have a strong people-centred approach.
  2. To strengthen understanding and knowledge of climate resilience and the transformations, innovations and solutions needed to build resilient communities, businesses and economies.
  3. To catalyse and help generate new public- private blended financing mechanisms, including appropriate and accountable insurance schemes that strengthen climate resilience as well as mechanisms that improve  access to climate finance for local actors working with most at-risk communities.

 

[1] 23rd Conference of Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change UNFCCC

 

All images courtesy of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre.

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