Climate Change Adaptation Investments Will Yield Good Returns

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Apart from sharing the climate change crisis that we are in, the Global Commission on Adaptation report presents that there are very good dividends for investing in climate change adaptation.

The news we read from the BBC and Stuff New Zealand calls for a global investment of $1.8 trillion in adaptation. This investment could generate $7.1 trillion in benefits. Benefits to cost ratios are very high at 10:1 and in some studies much higher, the report claims.

Bill Gates, the co-chair of the Global Commission on Adaptation, together with Chair and former UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon, calls for urgent investment and drastic action towards climate adaptation.

The Global Commission on Adaptation is guided by 34 Commissioners, convened by 20 countries, and composed of businessmen, leaders, politicians, and academes.

Climate change will affect everyone and all regions. The sad reality is that people who did the least to cause the problem, those who are living in poverty and in developing countries, are those who are most at risk and will suffer the most, the report says.

Although the case of adaptation is clear, the pace of things is not quick enough because climate risks and impacts are not integrated sufficiently into the decision-making processes, thus a ‘revolution’ is required according to the report, to wit:

  • Revolution in Understanding: A clear understanding of the magnitude and nature of risks involved and how it will affect society and the economy.
  • Revolution in Planning: Better policies, investments, and implementation of solutions because climate change is both urgent and pervasive. The public and private sectors also need information and topographic data relating to climate hazards to help them make better decisions in the face of uncertainty.
  • Revolution in Finance: A more speedy mobilisation of funds and resources for climate adaptation and resilience-building in infrastructure. And higher and more accessible financial support for adaptation in developing countries.

Investing in adaptation not only avoid losses but will deliver a triple benefit or yield to society that is both certain and immediate, the report says.

Triple dividend from adaptation investments according to the report:

Avoided losses – by establishing early warning for example, during natural calamities will prevent a lot of losses and damages to lives and infrastructures.

Economic benefits – reducing flood and other natural risks will protect investments, infrastructure, and land. The construction of the Thame Barrier in London and the Maeslant flood defence in the Netherlands are very good examples of this. To better manage water in dry and drought-prone areas, investing in innovative agriculture methods and technology such as the drip irrigation preserves precious water and promotes its sustainable use.

Social and environmental benefits – restoration and protection of mangroves along the coastlines can help prevent coastal erosion and flooding while enhancing the ocean ecosystem. The benefits will be 10 times the cost of implementation.

The report identifies the Key Systems that need adaptation acceleration:

Food. The demand for food will increase by 50% while yields will decline by 30% without climate actions. Investments in agriculture and small-scale farming using climate-smart production and technologies will yield 2:1 and 17:1 benefit to cost ratios.

Natural Environment. Nature-based solutions that protect shorelines, water source, and would complement built infrastructure. Protection and restoration of land is also a good mitigation strategy.

Water. Integration of climate risks such as floods and droughts to water infrastructures, investments in watersheds, the efficiency of water use are some mitigating actions for economic growth and making their water resource resilient especially in areas that have water resource problems like India, Asia, and China.  

Cities. Urban areas are homes to half of the global population and the epicentre of opportunity and innovation. Urban cities located in coastal areas are vulnerable to climate hazards. Investing in climate risk information and topographic data while investing in nature-based solutions can help them resilient to heat and water risks. Cost of adaptation compared to no action is very low at 1:10, a great reason to invest in adaptation.

Infrastructure. Climate-proofing existing infrastructure and building resilience into new infrastructure will give a 4:1 benefit to cost ratio. Planning where and what to build, deciding what assets need upgrades, investing in green infrastructures, and making sure that infrastructure can still function despite damages to it are some adaptation actions suggested in the report.

Disaster risk management. Through the application of preventing, protect and recover rules. Use of improved warning systems that prepare people, protect their assets and direct them what to do and where to go during calamities and disasters. Improved health and education services, and application of the build-back better principle for damaged infrastructures.

Adaptation investments in the following:

Early warning systems, resilient infrastructures, improving dryland agriculture and crop production, protection of mangroves, and resilient water resources at $1.8 trillion is very small and is less than 1% of the total gross capital formation between 2020 to 2030. It has a projected benefit of $5 to $10 trillion, the report says.

The report presents a comprehensive adaptation and mitigation measures that cover every climate change hazards and challenges across all regions.

It looks at required responses from a global to a local perspective, applications of region-specific adaptations, use of green infrastructures, and nature-based solutions to complement grey infrastructure in urban areas.

The report calls for more drastic and speedy investments in adaptations and mitigation measures, discusses the sources of funds and prompt access needed for accelerating adaptation.

Read the full report by clicking on the image below:

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