Short speech by Prime Minister Rutte of the Netherlands at the launch of the Year of Action, New York.

Your Majesty, Your Excellencies, Chair Mr Ban Ki-moon and Co-chair Mr Bill Gates, ladies and gentlemen,

It’s been almost a year, but it seems like only yesterday that the Global Commission on Adaptation was launched in my hometown of The Hague. The Commission is a growing group of countries who together are putting the urgency of climate adaptation firmly on the map. As well as 34 commissioners representing a broad spectrum of sectors and actors. Their dedication is an example to all. And as the initiator and host of the Global Center on Adaptation, it fills the Netherlands with pride to be able to contribute to this work. After all, our low-lying delta country has many centuries of experience in the fight against water.

So much has happened in the past year. A few months ago, I travelled to China to open the first international branch of the Global Center on Adaptation, together with Premier Li Keqiang. Part of the centre’s work includes developing technologies that make cities less vulnerable to extreme rainfall. The concept of ‘sponge cities’ was invented in the Netherlands and is now being further developed in China. A great example of how working together can help us progress.

So much has happened: it was a year full of action in terms of climate adaptation. And this is only the beginning. Because today we’re officially launching the Year of Action – a year in which we’re going to further accelerate adaptation around the world. The Global Commission’s Flagship Report, published earlier this month, sets out our goals and how we intend to achieve them. It shows that if we fail to act we risk undermining food, energy and water security for generations to come. It stresses the importance of innovation and delivering breakthroughs to the people and places that need them the most. And it provides a road map to a stronger future. A future that can be ours if we take cost-effective and sustainable measures today.

I’m confident that at next year’s Climate Adaptation Summit – to be held in the Netherlands on 22 October – we’ll be able to look back with pride at what we’ve achieved in the Year of Action. And that we’ll make new plans with new vigour. Because I believe this is the only way forward. As co-chair Ms Georgieva summed up so nicely: ‘We face a choice: business as usual and hope for the best, or we take action and build for a resilient future.’ I think the answer’s a no-brainer: the time for action, acceleration and adaptation is now.

Thank you.