A path for financing smart economic development through strong institutions was announced today by a 14-person commission appointed to advise political leaders on climate change.
The Commission on Climate Change and Development reported on its progress today at the United Nations in New York and will also present its findings tomorrow at the Swedish Embassy in Washington D.C.
“The way that nations respond to the global recession can provide the basis for a path of sustainable development that eases the planet’s interlocked emergencies, where ecosystems are valued as much as other forms of capital,” said Gunilla Carlsson, chair of the commission and the Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation.
The Commission is addressing climate change adaptation and its links with disaster risk reduction. Since its launch by the Swedish government in late 2007, the group has met with governments and citizens struggling with the effects of climate change in Cambodia, Mali, and Bolivia. It will issue policy recommendations on how to strengthen resilience of vulnerable communities and countries, establish appropriate institutional and financial architecture for adaptation, and mobilize new financial resources.
Developing countries are particularly exposed to the impacts of droughts, floods and wind storms as well as longer term changes in ecosystems. International negotiations have focused on reducing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere - with little success. Although all efforts must continue to reach agreement on implementing GHG limits, this work cannot blind governments to the need to begin to adapt to changing climate systems right now.
“Adaptation is more than ‘climate proofing,’” said Jonathan Lash, a member of the commission and president of the World Resources Institute. “It will require resources far beyond existing official development assistance, but it is a moral and strategic necessity.”
One of the many recommendations within the Commission’s Progress Report is that funding for adaptation must go far beyond current official development assistance and that all donors honor their commitments of 0.7 percent of gross domestic product. The recent Bangladesh Adaptation Strategy for responding to natural disasters sets an interesting example.
“People at risk need democratic and political institutions to listen to their needs and concerns,” Carlsson added. “In the age of climate change, the institutions of accountable and responsible government are more important than ever.”
The Commission determined that knowledge of local impacts is still largely in the form of hypotheses and scenarios. While greenhouse gas reductions are measurable, it is more difficult to determine the success of adaptation and requires much more cooperation between institutions in different fields. These institutions can no longer be reactionary, as was the case after the food and financial crises of 2008. Also, existing institutions must be made as effective as possible rather than adding to the already proliferating array of institutions.
The full findings are available in a report called Closing the Gaps: Exploring the Links Between Adaptation to Climate Change and Development.
The members of the Commission represent international and regional organizations as well as research, civil society and the private sector. Members participate in their personal capacities and include: Carlsson (Sweden); Angela Cropper (Trinidad and Tobago), deputy executive director for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); Mohamed El-Ashry (Egypt), senior fellow, UN Foundation; Sun Honglie (China), professor and head of the China Climate Change Expert Committee at the Chinese Academy of Sciences; Nanna Hvidt (Denmark), director of the Danish Institute for International Studies; Ian Johnson (UK), chairman of IDEAcarbon; Lash (USA); Wangari Maathai (Kenya), professor and founder of the Green Belt Movement; Ivo Menzinger (Switzerland), Managing Director at Swiss Re; Sunita Narain (India), director of the Centre for Science and Environment; Youba Sokona (Mali), executive secretary of the Sahara and Sahel Observatory (OSS); Bernard Petit (France), deputy director-general, Directorate-General for Development, European Commission; Margareta Wahlström (Sweden); UN assistant secretary-general for Disaster Risk Reduction and the secretary general’s special representative.
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