Former UN Chief and Bill Gates on Board as the Netherlands Accelerates Climate Adaptation

11.09.2018 - IDN InDepthNews

Former UN Chief and Bill Gates on Board as the Netherlands Accelerates Climate Adaptation
(Image by Photo credit: UNDP)

By Reinhard Jacobsen

AMSTERDAM (IDN) – Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon will oversee the Global Commission on Adaptation to climate change, which the Government of the Netherlands and the Global Center on Adaptation have decided to set up. It will be formally launched on October 16 in The Hague. Bill Gate, Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva will support Ban.

The Global Center on Adaptation, an international organization hosted by the Netherlands, in partnership with World Resources Institute will co-host the Commission.

The importance of the Global Commission on Adaptation derives from the fact that Climate change adaptation as a response to global warming, also known as climate change, is particularly important in developing countries.

Those countries are bearing the brunt of the effects of climate change. The economic costs of adaptation to climate change are likely to cost billions of dollars annually for the next several decades, though the amount of money needed is unknown.

Donor countries promised an annual $100 billion by 2020 through the Green Climate Fund for developing countries to adapt to climate change. However, while the fund was set up during the UN Climate Change Conference in the Mexican city of Cancún in 2010, concrete pledges by developed countries have not been forthcoming. But the adaptation challenge grows with the magnitude and the rate of climate change.

A new paper – published in the scientific journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution by an international group of scientists led by the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate, University of Copenhagen – reviews current knowledge on climate change and biodiversity.

Nature is reacting to climate change, scientists say. “We see altered behaviour and movement among plants and animals; flowers change flowering period and owls get darker body colour, due to warmer winters.”

“We compiled an enormous amount of studies of events, which we know influenced biodiversity during the past million years. It turns out species have been able to survive new conditions in their habitat by changing either their behaviour or body shape. However, the current magnitude and unseen speed of change in nature may push species beyond their ability to adapt.”

Against this backdrop, the Commission could play a significant role in mobilising funds for developing countries.

The announcement of the formation of the Commission was made during an event marking the new construction of an innovative climate-adaptive floating office in Rotterdam by Dutch Minister Van Nieuwenhuizen for Infrastructure and Water Management, the initiating Commissioner. Van Nieuwenhuizen noted that the Commission will elevate the political visibility of adaptation and will focus on solutions, catalyzing a global adaptation movement and accelerating action.

“For the Netherlands, looking for solutions to water issues is part of everyday life. This is not yet the case in other areas and countries that also increasingly are faced with extreme weather,” the Minister stated.

“Climate change is making itself felt almost on a daily basis. Take, for example, the prolonged drought that currently is affecting large parts of Europe. By launching this Commission, we aim to press the need for worldwide climate adaptation,” she added.

Ban Ki-moon said, “Today’s announcements by the Government of the Netherlands is a critical step forward to set in motion more vigorous attention to and action around climate adaptation. I congratulate Minister van Nieuwenhuizen for her role as an initiator of the Global Commission on Adaptation and look forward to collaborating with her and other global leaders as we embark on our worldwide mission to accelerate adaptation.”

The floating office to be constructed in Rotterdam will be home to the Global Center on Adaptation, which has expanded its mission under new leadership. In addition to its office in Rotterdam, the Global Center will have an office in Groningen, which will be inaugurated by Ban on October 17.

Patrick Verkooijen, the newly appointed Chief Executive Office of the Global Center, said his goal is to inspire clarity behind the adaptation agenda and pursue pragmatic steps that can help address policies, investments, financing, and governance needed for more adaptation action globally.

“We act as a solutions broker,” Verkooijen said, “bringing together governments, the private sector, civil society, intergovernmental bodies, and knowledge institutions that can address the obstacles slowing down adaptation action.”

Of the Global Center, Ban noted that “the role of Global Center on Adaptation will be significant because we need all societies to learn from one another.  Under the exemplary and bold leadership of Patrick Verkooijen, the Center will help accelerate transformation at scale and at speed.” [IDN-InDepthNews – 11 September 2018]

Photo credit: UNDP

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.

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