Environment In Focus

Strong Support for Action at the Global Climate Adaptation Summit 2021


CLIMATE CHANGE adaptation got a shot in the arm recently as more than 30 world leaders and over 50 ministers, plus a string of industry bosses, multilateral heads, and civil society actors came together to affirm strong support for adaptation action at the global online Climate Adaptation Summit (CAS) 2021.

The summit, hosted by the Netherlands Government in close collaboration with the Global Centre on Adaptation (GCA), was organised to accelerate, innovate and scale up the world’s efforts in adapting to the inevitable effects of climate change. It took the form of a 24-hour live stream on four channels, and featured six live talk shows, 300 speakers and 18,000 registered participants.

Among the summit headliners was the new United States (US) Climate Envoy John Kerry, who assured world leaders in his first public appearance on the international stage that the Biden administration has made international climate action a top priority and will help promote more ambition in adaptation and resilience.

“We are proud to be back,” Kerry said. “We come back with humility for the absence of the last four years and we’ll do everything in our power to make up for it.”


He announced that the US will focus on better climate data, more funding for adaptation and resilience, improving adaptation programmes and promoting cooperation between the private sector and affected communities.

“Only together will we be able to build resilience to climate change,” Kerry added.

Countries, from Grenada to Japan, pledged ambitious adaptation actions, launched new programmes – including the 1,000 Cities Adapt Now (1000CAN) and Race2Resilience – and announced extra budgetary support for adaptation projects around the world.

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For example, French President Emmanuel Macron reaffirmed that €2 billion – one-third of France’s climate finance aid – will be allocated for climate adaptation; while German Chancellor Angela Merkel committed a total of €270 million extra budget for climate adaptation in support of vulnerable communities. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson launched the Adaptation Action Coalition, a group of nations that will be working with the Race2Resilience initiative and the UN Climate Action team towards COP26 later this year.

The coalition includes Egypt, Bangladesh, Malawi, the Netherlands, St Lucia, and the United Nations Development Programme.

Multilateral groups also made ambitious adaptation pledges at CAS 2021. IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva announced that the fund is increasing coverage of climate actions in its annual country economic assessments – the Article IV consultations – and will incorporate climate risks in its financial sector assessments. She said, too, that the IMF will scale up capacity development to support member countries with climate-related skills and announced the launching of a new data initiative to help countries track climate change risks and policies.

$5-billion investment

The World Bank Group committed to maintaining the share of its total climate finance earmarked for climate adaptation to at least 50%. World Bank Group president David Malpass also announced a US$5-billion investment in the Great Green Wall, an initiative to combat the increasing desertification in Africa.

The African Development Bank (AFDB) and the Global Centre on Adaptation (GCA) announced a new Africa Adaptation Acceleration Programme (AAAP) to focus on agriculture, infrastructure, youth and innovative finance. The AFDB has committed to mobilise US$25 billion as climate finance between 2020 and 2025, of which at least 50% will support climate adaptation and resilience building. AFDB and GCA will use this to leverage an additional US$12.5 billion through other key partners.

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Head of the Climate Change Division UnaMay Gordon explained the significance of the talks from the perspective of a Small Island Developing State (SIDS).

“As a SIDS, adaptation is important to us. It is easy to focus on mitigation because of the investment opportunities it presents, but adaptation for us is about lives and livelihoods,” she said.

“It was refreshing to hear not only the rhetoric and the discussions, but also the pledges to focus on adaptation and the global call for the 50/50 allocation of funds on adaptation,” Gordon added.

“We were also pleased with the 360-view of resilience building that the summit presented. It connected all the dots, evidenced by its focus on all the areas that are important to us as vulnerable small-island states as part of the economic recovery from shocks – infrastructure, cities, water, nature-based solutions, and food and agriculture, as well as the social perspective brought by the varying groups represented,” she said further.

The CAS 2021 secretariat said the summit was a response to United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres’ call for “more concrete plans, more ambition from more countries and more businesses” to make the world more climate-resilient.

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