Mr Ban Ki-Moon, Prime Minister Rutte, and Minister Van Nieuwenhuizen kick off Climate Commission Year of Action

At the UN Climate Summit in New York, prominent delegates such as former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, and Dutch Water Management Minister Van Nieuwenhuizen launched the Year of Action of the Global Commission on Adaptation. Over the next 12 months, the Commission will be working on climate solutions to regions that are vulnerable to climate change, solutions such as reinforcing coastal areas and future-proofing urban infrastructure. The year of action will run until the Dutch Climate Adaptation Summit, to be held in Amsterdam on 22 October 2020.

‘It is crucial for us to take action in order to prepare properly for the impact of climate change. Not only in the Netherlands, with a considerable surface area located below sea level, but in almost every country of the world. Dehydration, extreme downpours, prolonged heat, and exhaustion of farmland: innovation, action, and adaptation are desperately needed,’ Prime Minister Rutte stated.

During the opening meeting, attended by special guest King Willem-Alexander, Commission Chairs Ban Ki-Moon and Bill Gates reflected on their earlier published flagship report on the effects of the changing climate.

Mr Ban Ki-Moon: ‘Action is imperative if we want all people, especially those living on the frontlines of climate change, and our children, who will inherit the impacts of climate change, to have the opportunity for a better future. During our Year of Action we will implement climate-resilient solutions all over the world so we can save lives, reduce risk, strengthen economies, and protect our environment. We no longer have any time to waste.’

Several attending government leaders, among whom were Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (Bangladesh), and President Sebastian Pinera (Chile) discussed ways to cope with the impact of the changing climate.

Minister Van Nieuwenhuizen: ‘We are at a turning point. Increasingly more countries are acknowledging the need for expediting their investments in, e.g., stronger coastal protection and climate-proof infrastructure. With the upcoming Year of Action, the Global Commission will embark on an important next step not only by keeping the issue high on its agenda, but especially by starting to work on practical solutions to the reinforcement of vulnerable regions.’  

Global Commission on Adaptation

The Commission, which was set up last year on the initiative of Minister Van Nieuwenhuizen, presented its Adapt Now report on 10 September. Its main conclusion is that damage caused by waterlogging, heat, drought, and urban flooding will increase further if we refrain from prompt investments in the prevention of climate damage. The Commission has calculated that every euro invested in, e.g., dyke improvement will save between 2 and 10 euros, because such efforts will mitigate the damage caused by flooding.

In addition to the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Commission’s goal is to convince countries and regions of the need for timely investments in adaptation to the impact of the changing climate, in order to be prepared for the consequences of increasing weather extremes, such as the rising sea level, prolonged periods of heat and drought, and ever declining supplies of clean drinking water.

Amsterdam Climate Summit

On 22 October 2020, the Year of Action will be concluded by a Climate Adaptation Summit in Amsterdam, where all the plans generated by the Year of Action will be presented. Furthermore, countries, businesses, and NGOs will be provided with a platform to showcase the climate solutions they have developed. In the week around the Climate Summit, the Netherlands will demonstrate the Dutch climate solutions to delegations from abroad, as potential solutions to the climate challenges they are faced with.