Challenges for the new Global Commission for Adaptation

(L-R) CEO of the World Bank Kristalina Georgieva; Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; and business magnate Bill Gates.

Last week in the Hague, the Netherlands a new Global Commission for Adaptation to Climate Change was launched with the former Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon, Bill Gates, and Kristalina Georgieva, head of the World Bank as the three heads. There are also a number of governments supporting the new Commission, including Bangladesh, and around twenty eminent individuals who will be the Commissioners , including Dr Musa, head of BRAC in Bangladesh.

At the launch ceremony in the Hague, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina gave a pre-recorded video statement of support and the Bangladesh Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Barrister Anisul Islam Mahmud was there to represent Bangladesh.

Ban Ki-moon, in his opening statement, also praised Bangladesh as a role model for incorporating adaptation to climate change into national development planning and investments.

The Global Commission is supported by a Secretariat of the World Resources Institute (WRI) based in Washington DC and the Global Centre for Adaptation (GCA) in the Hague and also by a group of scientific experts from around the world who will write background papers on different aspects of adaptation to climate change.

The Global Commissioners will also visit different countries for consultations and then produce their report and present it to the current Secretary General of the UN António Guterres at the Global Climate Summit in New York in September 2019. The Commission will then continue its work for another year to promote its recommendations around the world and particularly to donors, funders and investors to raise the amount of funding for adaptation actions around the world.

They have been invited to visit Bangladesh in January 2019 to take part in the 5th Annual Gobeshona Conference in Dhaka to observe the deliberations on climate change research into action in Bangladesh through the Gobeshona platform of over fifty universities and research institutes in Bangladesh working on climate change research over the past five years.

They will also participate in the 13th International Conference on Community Based Adaptation (CBA13) to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in April 2019 in order to develop a stream of work on assisting the most vulnerable communities and countries own ongoing efforts at Adaptation.

While the Commission will try to bring much needed attention and funding support to adaptation efforts in the poorer developing countries, it will at the same time also advise the developed countries on how to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change, like the recent hurricanes Florence and Michael in the US and wildfires in Australia. The setting up of this Global Commission for Adaptation is very timely after the adoption of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on 1.5 Degrees that has highlighted the need for more action on mitigation to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. However, there is also a corresponding need to focus on adaptation to the impacts of climate change which are already now happening and affecting poorer and vulnerable communities the most. In particular there is a need to enhance the flow of global climate change funds for adaptation to the poorest countries.

If successful, the Global Commission on Adaptation should be able to raise the profile of adaptation to climate change, as needed in addition to mitigation, around the world and in particular raise the quantum of funding that is flowing towards supporting adaptation in the most vulnerable communities and countries around the world.

Originally this article was published on October 24, 2018 at Daily Star. The author Dr. Saleemul Huq is the director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) at the Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB).