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GCA Recommends Action Areas For Water Resources Adaptation

WASHINGTON DC, United States

The Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA) has published a report calling on governments and businesses to take action to innovate and advance climate adaptation solutions based on new research findings. The report explains that climate adaptation can deliver a “triple dividend” by avoiding future losses, generating positive economic gains through innovation, and delivering additional social and environmental benefits.

"Adapt Now: A Global Call for Leadership on Climate Resilience", launched 10 September, finds that adaptation can lead to significant economic returns and that investing USD 1.8 trillion globally from 2020 to 2030 in five climate adaptation areas could result in $7.1 Trillion USD in net benefits. The five areas – early warning systems, climate-resilient infrastructure, improved dryland agriculture, mangrove protection and investments in increasing water resource resilience – represent only a portion of total investments needed and total benefits available.

Adaptation and Water Resources

The report describes a world already "facing daunting challenges managing this precious resource and ensuring that people, crops, and the environment have the water they need. Crucial water supplies, like aquifers and lakes, are shrinking or increasingly polluted. Floods and droughts cause damages in the billions of dollars and take a huge human toll, in particular on women and girls. Nor does it help that water is now grossly mismanaged in many areas—wasted in inefficient irrigation systems, poorly allocated, and lost in aging, leaky water mains".

"On top of all of these issues come the potentially devastating impacts of climate change, which will largely be felt through their effects on water. By 2050, the number of people who lack sufficient water at least one month per year will soar to more than 5 billion, from 3.6 billion today, causing unprecedentedcompetition for water. This competition will in turn fuel regional conflicts and migrations, tearing the already frayedfabric of society, especially in developing countries".

"At the same time, climate change has already begun increasing the number and severity of storms. Tomorrow’s storms will overwhelm stormwater systems, send rivers spilling over their banks, trigger landslides, and wash away entire communities, increasing flood risks for fully half of the planet’s population. Coastal cities and communities—home to one-tenth of the world’s population—and small island statesare particularly vulnerable, facing the triple threat of more floods, rising seas, and higher storm surges".

"Adapting the planet’s water resources and systems to the new climate reality is a formidable task. But it also offers opportunities—to improve ecosystems, grow economies, boost agricultural efficiencies, and tackle huge problems, like inequity".

Four Key Actions

The report's authors recommend and describe four key actions on water:

  • Harness the power of nature and expand water infrastructure
  • Cope with water scarcity by using water more productively
  • Prepare for a changing climate by planning for floods and droughts
  • Improve water governance and scale up financing

“Climate change doesn’t respect borders: it’s an international problem that can only be solved with co-operation and collaboration, across borders and worldwide. It is becoming increasingly clear that in many parts of the world, our climate has already changed and we need to adapt with it,” said Ban Ki-moon, 8th Secretary General of the United Nations and Chair of the Global Commission on Adaptation.

“Mitigation and adaptation go hand-in-hand as two equally important building blocks of the Paris Climate Change Agreement,” he added. “Adaptation is not only the right thing to do, it is also the smart thing to do to boost economic growth and create a climate resilient world.”

The Global Commission on Adaptation seeks to accelerate adaptation by elevating the political visibility of adaptation and focusing on concrete solutions.

The Commission is led by Ban Ki-moon, 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations, Bill Gates, Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Kristalina Georgieva, CEO, World Bank. It is guided by 34 Commissioners, consisting of leaders from political, business, multilateral,and scientific worlds; and it is convened by 20 countries.