As highlighted in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's recently published report Global Warming of 1.5°C, damaging impacts from climate change are already being felt — sooner and more powerfully than previously projected — and managing the risks associated with the phenomenon, from floods and droughts to sea level rise and storms, will require a range of adaptation strategies. Led by former United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation co-chair Bill Gates, and World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva, the commission — which includes representatives of seventeen convening countries and twenty-eight commissioners representing all regions of the globe and sectors of development and industry — will work to elevate the visibility and political importance of climate adaptation and encourage smarter investments, new technologies, and better planning focused on accelerating resilience globally to climate-related threats.
According to the commission, four major roadblocks are slowing adaptation of climate mitigation solutions: decision makers and the broader public are not yet aware of all the opportunities to be gained from becoming more resilient and less vulnerable to climate impacts; governments and businesses have failed to incorporate climate change risks into their social and economic development plans and investments; adaptation efforts have failed to consider the world's poorest and most vulnerable people; and a shortage of global leadership exists with respect to the challenge.
To be managed by the Global Center on Adaptation and the World Resources Institute, the commission will oversee preparation of a flagship report during its first year and is planning to present its findings and recommendations at the 2019 UNSG Climate Summit in September. The report will be informed by input from the world's leading scientific, economic, and policy analysis institutes; lay out why adapting to climate risks and accelerated action is essential; and address how governments, companies, and ordinary citizens can contribute to making the world a safer, healthier place. The commission also will convene key champions, coalitions, and private sector and civil society actors to advance activities in the areas of food security and rural livelihoods, global supply chains, cities, infrastructure, finance, social protection, and nature-based solutions.
"Without urgent adaptation action, we risk undermining food, energy, and water security for decades to come," said Ban. "Continued economic growth and reductions in global poverty are possible despite these daunting challenges — but only if societies invest much more in adaptation. The costs of adapting are less than the cost of doing business as usual. And the benefits many times larger."