Climate Change

Invest $1.7 trillion in nature-based solutions to adapt to climate change: UNCCD report

The investment would give four times the return on investment, it said


By Jitendra
Published: Tuesday 10 September 2019

An investment of $1.8 trillion (Rs 2 lakh crore) in climate-adaptation measures over the next decade will bring about concrete transformation on the ground, according to a report released at the 14th Conference of Parties (CoP) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). 

Investment in five areas, including early warning systems, climate-resilient infrastructure, improved dryland agriculture and mangrove protection, will give four times the return on investment — $7.1 trillion (Rs 14 lakh crore) — according to report, released on September 10, 2019. 

“This represents only a portion of the total investments needed and total benefits available,” said Ibrahim Thiaw, executive secretary, UNCCD.

The report was written by the Global Commission on Adaptation — a group of 34 leaders in politics, business and science. It is led by former United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon, Microsoft Corp founder Bill Gates and former World Bank chief executive Kristalina Georgieva. 

Globally, 3.2 billion people are affected by land degradation, especially in rural communities.

  • According to the report:
  • Without adaptation, climate change may depress growth in global agriculture yields by up to 30 per cent by 2050
  • 500 million small farms around the world will be the most affected
  • The number of people lacking sufficient water for at least a month every year will soar to more than 5 billion by 2050 from 3.6 billion now
  • Rising seas and greater storm surges can force hundreds of millions in coastal cities away from their homes
  • The total cost to coastal urban areas can be more than $1 trillion each year by 2050
  • Climate change can push more than 100 million people within developing countries below the poverty line by 2030

“The costs of climate change on people and the economy are clear,” said Thiaw.

Climate change’s impacts are manifested across the globe in the form of extreme weather events like drought, famine, water crisis and land degradation, leading to the loss of agriculture productivity, which further translates into hunger.

“The toll on human life is irrefutable,” said Anand Patwardhan, research director, Global Commission on Adaptation, while presenting the report.

“The question is how the world will respond: Will we delay and pay more or plan ahead and prosper?” he asked.

The Global Commission on Adaptation’s objective is to catalyse action and partnerships to help vulnerable countries and communities become more resilient, tackle extreme poverty and achieve the United Nations-mandated Sustainable Development Goals.

“A large chunk of the report tries to give the vulnerable a voice,” said OP Agarwal, CEO, World Resource Institute, India.

“In India, there are more than 250 million people living below the poverty line, who would face the impacts. Unavailability of resources, financial insecurities and the inability to cope with changing weather systems will put added pressure on the poorest communities,” he added.

Benefits of adaptation

The report highlighted many economic, social and environmental benefits of adaptation.

It gave the example of the 2010 heat wave, which killed more than 1,300 people in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. After the disaster, quick actions including training health care staff, distributing water and painting roofs with white reflective paint to reduce the heat in homes by as much as five degree Celsius led to the deaths of 20 people in May 2015.

It also pointed out that flood-resistant varieties of rice in Odisha not only reduced losses during times of floods, but also boosted farm yields during normal years.

The report called for an immediate investment in the fields of mitigating climate change business. This would deliver triple dividends like avoiding future losses, generating positive economic gains through innovation and delivering additional social and environmental benefits.

Inger Anderson, executive director of the UN Environment programme, said there should not be any doubt that action was needed at the earliest. “We should invest in nature-based solutions as our report proves that it is profitable,” she said.

Lord Nicholas Stern, chair, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and Environment and professor, Economics and Government at the London School of Economics also participated in the report release discussion. He emphasised on the building of climate-resilient infrastructure to drive growth. 

“It is insane on to go on without recognising climate change’s impact,” said Stern.

“Investment in mitigation and adaptation would mean lesser risk and more capital,” he added.

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