Climate Change

Climate resilience needed for COVID-19 recovery, flags UN commission

Global Commission for Adaptation has asked world leaders to align policies with long-term climate objectives, mobilise private sector support 

By Kiran Pandey
Published: Friday 17 July 2020

Economic shutdowns prompted by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic dealt a severe blow to the global economy, especially to the poor and vulnerable countries. While over $10 trillion has been injected into COVID-19 relief, most stimulus packages have not sufficiently incorporated climate resilience into their recovery plans.

This was pointed out by the United Nations Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA) on 9 July, 2020, in its call for “climate-resilient recovery” for post-COVID-19 recovery.

The GCA asked the world leaders to align policies with longer-term climate objectives, build global partnerships, and mobilise private sector support for improved climate resilience.

It has also called for investment in economic activities that would create jobs, protect communities and natural ecosystems. According to the commission, investments consistently deliver high returns, with benefit-cost ratios ranging from 2:1 to 10:1.

It called on the world leaders to accelerate progress in seven areas:

  • Locally led adaptation
  • Urban resilience
  • Water resources management
  • Social safety nets
  • Food security
  • Nature-based solutions
  • Disaster prevention

Local planning and action, and investments in communities, must be prioritised while re-building economies,suggested by the commission in a 2019 report.

The pandemic is also a call to reinvent urban habitats that are sustainable and climate-friendly.  India’s policy makers should plan better for slums in India, found in 65 per cent of the Indian towns.

Centre for Science and Environment suggested “reinventing mobility planning, including public transport” in India during and after the pandemic.  

According to GCA estimates, improving water, sanitation, and hygiene costs about $0.29 per person a day. Water investments, such as flood and drought management and pollution control, have benefit-cost ratios of up to 6:1.

Invest in social protection

Over half the world’s population — as many as four billion people — are unprotected by social insurance schemes or universal or social assistance programmes. The GCA urged countries to expand safety nets to cover more beneficiaries and provide greater support in response to a climate or health shock.

COVID-19 and climate change have also threatened food security in developing countries of Asia and Africa. Investments to strengthen food and nutrition security, therefore, must be prioritised in the recovery plans, said GCA in its statement.

These recommendations resonate with the recent suggestions of the United Nations Committee on World Food Security’s High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition. They also align with the internationally agreed frameworks that include 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; the Paris Agreement on climate change; and the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction.

The call for action is significant since progress on seven core areas of development would also be reported by the commission at the January 2021 Climate Adaptation Summit in the Netherlands, which will be carried forward at 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 26) to the UNFCCC at Glasgow, the United Kingdom, as well.

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