Climate change is one of the existential crises humanity is facing today, with detrimental impacts on the environment, human beings and the economy. In the recent past, different regions around the world witnessed extreme climatic events such as flood, drought, prolonged heat waves and heavy and untimely rainfall.
Effective climate adaption efforts are imperative to address extreme climatic events. However, global climate adaptive measures to respond to and adapt with changing climatic patterns are promising but insufficient.
Recognising the concerns, the Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA), initiated by the Netherlands, was launched by the 8th UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in 2018. The initiative aims to catalyse global movement to accelerate and scale up adaptation efforts. It is led by Ban Ki-Moon, 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Kristalina Georgieva, CEO, World Bank.
On 10th September 2019, GCA globally launched its flagship report titled "Adapt now: A global call for leadership on climate resilience" calling on the government and businesses to undertake appropriate approaches to innovate and promote climate adaptation solutions. The findings of the report states that effective adaptive solutions would contribute "triple dividend".
For example, improving weather information and climate-resilient infrastructure would help to avoid climate change induced losses, advancing flood management system and climate-resilient agricultural approaches would facilitate to generate economic opportunities and ensure nature-based solutions to combat climate shocks would contribute additional social and economic benefits.
The report states that a global investment of $1.8 trillion in five areas including early warning systems, climate-resilient infrastructure, improved dryland agriculture, mangrove protection and resilient water resources could generate an economic benefit of $7.1 trillion from the period of 2020 to 2030.
In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc worldwide contributing to massive death tolls. It has been estimated that the Covid-19 could render 265 million people suffer from acute food insecurity by the end of this year. Hence, such challenges dampened the already insufficient climate adaptive developments and derailed social and economic developments.
It is important to mention that the Covid-19 is not a standalone crisis in most of the countries. In Bangladesh, the monsoon flood of 2020, inundated 102 upazilas and 654 unions affecting 3.3 million people and marooning 731,958 people. Every year, about 700,000 people become homeless due to climate induced disasters in Bangladesh. It has been projected that the number of climate refugees across the country may reach up to 13 million by 2050. A 2-degree Celsius warmer temperature is most likely to create 189 million food insecure people. Also, in the developing countries the agricultural sector is most likely to have 26% climate induced loss and damage.
This year, approximately 168 million people worldwide were in need of humanitarian assistance driven by conflicts, extreme climatic events and economic shocks. Globally, 150 million people have been projected to be exposed to flood risk by 2030.
Climate-sensitive approaches would not only help attain economic gains but it would also help to gain social, environmental and health benefits. For example, investment in water infrastructure, climate smart irrigation system and salt-tolerant crops in a saline prone area would not only help to provide multiple benefits ranging from economic, social, environmental, and health benefits.
Also, investment in early warning system and infrastructure such as cyclone shelters could save many lives from sea level rise, cyclones and storm surges. In Bangladesh, there is still inadequate cyclone shelters across the country. During 2010, the World Bank estimated that more than 5500 cyclone shelters are needed to accommodate the affected people. In 2015, the number reached to only 3247. During cyclone Amphan, many people refused to go to the cyclone shelters since the already inadequate cyclone shelters would lead to over congestion hence the spreading of coronavirus will expedite.
It is imperative to identify and spread relevant knowledge to help communities to be more climate resilient in these challenging times. We should not forget to prepare ourselves to counter climate change while responding to coronavirus. Because appropriate actions and adequate climate adaptation investments today would help us effectively combat climate crisis in future.
Tahmina Hadi, deputy manager, BRAC