Speech by Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management, at the launch of the Global Commission on Adaptation, The Hague

Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,


Welcome to the Netherlands, welcome to our beautiful Hall of Knights!

It’s part of the former palace of the Counts of Holland…

A place rich in history, the setting for our most important announcements and events.

That includes the Speech from the Throne with which the monarch opens the new parliamentary year on Budget Day. An annual tradition since 1904.

Dutch Olympic medal winners come here to be honoured and knighted.

Ceremonial splendour as a prelude to important work or to reward exceptional performance.

That’s why this is such a fitting venue for the inaugural meeting of the Global Commission on Adaptation.

Today is a time for ceremony and fine words. But tomorrow we put our shoulders to the wheel as we set to work on a colossal challenge.

One of the biggest challenges our world has ever seen: adapting ourselves to the harsh reality of climate change.

Because this year too we’ve been rocked by extreme weather. I don’t need to give you examples. You see them in the news every day.

Last week the IPCC issued a stark warning.

Even if we achieve the Paris climate goals, sea levels will still rise.

Weather will still become more extreme. We’ll still lose whole stretches of coastline. And our ecosystems will still be disrupted. It’s happening as we speak.

That’s why we founded the Global Center on Adaptation last November.

In my role as initiator, it’s been my privilege, over the past year, to help shape this unique center – with its diverse team of experts, to be led by an inspiring Commission with support from countries around the globe.

Next September we’ll present our Global Adaptation Report at the UN Climate Summit in New York.

But that doesn’t mean our work will be done. Implementing the recommendations is just as important.

A year of action will follow. And I’ll be delighted to invite you back to the Netherlands for the first Climate Adaptation Action Summit in 2020.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I’d like to take this opportunity to remember the late Kofi Annan.

We’ve lost a great leader. One who had pledged to fulfil a role in this Commission.

Let us go forth in his spirit and draw on his legacy.

I’m proud to be able to introduce the Commission members to you today.

But first I’d like to welcome our very own prime minister onto the stage.

He was a member of the High Level Panel on Water.

He has led numerous water missions – to India, China and Indonesia, for example.

He puts climate adaptation on the agenda in virtually all bilateral contacts.

Ladies and gentlemen: the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte.