Speech by Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management, High-Level event Global Commission on Adaptation, COP24

“Climate adaptation is an essential – if not existential – addition to climate efforts. As the initiator of the Global Commission on Adaptation, I’m pleased to see this topic on the agenda here in Katowice.”

Speech by Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management, at the High-Level Panel of the Global Commission on Adaptation during COP24 in Katowice, Poland.

Dear fellow Commissioners, honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen,

It’s good to be here in Katowice with so many members of the Global Commission on Adaptation. And so many women too! And it’s great that so many of you have come here to listen to us!

Because for two weeks, Katowice is the centre of the world. This is where the Paris Agreement is really taking shape. I very much hope that all countries will work with great determination to minimise global warming.

But you all know that even if we do 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. We cannot wait for measures aimed at combating climate change to take effect.

Climate adaptation is an essential – if not existential – addition to climate efforts. As the initiator of the Global Commission on Adaptation, I’m pleased to see this topic on the agenda here in Katowice.

But how do we ensure that countries really do turn commitments into action? First, by mobilising political support. By launching a wonderful Commission with big names like Ban Ki-moon, Bill Gates and Kristalina Georgieva. And getting plenty of media attention, as we did in October. I have a lot of hope pinned on this coming together of political forces.

In fact, we’ve already achieved something special. At the start of this COP, Ms Georgieva, co-chair of the Commission and CEO of the World Bank, delighted us with the news that the World Bank is going to invest 50 billion dollars in climate adaptation! That’s the same as the amount pledged for mitigation – an enormous recognition of just how important our area of work is. And proof that each member of the Commission is showing ambition and leadership.

Every one of us will have to show leadership at home too. In the Netherlands, municipalities, water boards and provincial authorities came together three weeks ago to sign a national agreement which will see all the municipalities in our country – nearly 400 – carry out a stress test.

They’ll be asking: Are the sewers capable of dealing with the extreme rainstorms coming our way? Are there places where surplus water can be stored for times of drought? Can we make our streets, parks, roofs and squares greener? Is our critical infrastructure well protected? Think of hospitals, energy supply systems and nuclear plants. Together with municipalities, water boards and provincial authorities, we’re investing 600 million euros to make our urban and rural areas climate-resilient.

Because even if the global leaders down the hall from us are successful… even if we manage to limit global warming… climate adaptation is no luxury. For millions of people it’s a basic need for survival.

Thank you.