COP25 must deliver on climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction

Monday, November 25, 2019

The 25th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP25) starts next week in Madrid, Spain. The Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance will be there to remind policy makers of the commitments made during the Climate Action Summit and the importance of further, more ambitious, investments in disaster risk reduction, particularly flood resilience, in the face of this climate crisis.

Recent research shows that 300 million people will live on land vulnerable to annual floods by the middle of this century, which could devastate communities, homes, and livelihoods. And this is just the latest research adding to the plethora of overwhelming evidence of the significant impact that the climate crisis will continue to have on communities – especially in the developing world. It is timely then that the world will convene next week in Madrid, Spain, at COP25, the 25th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to, amongst many objectives, advance solutions to the potentially devastating increase in people who will be affected by rising sea levels and coastal flooding.  

Let’s build on the momentum from the Climate Action Summit 

The last summit on these issues – the UN Climate Action Summit in September – was vital in galvanising commitments to climate action, including introducing exciting new initiatives on resilience and adaptation. These included the Risk Informed Early Action Partnership (REAP), the Global Commission on Adaptation Action Tracks, and the Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance (ORRAA). COP25 is an important opportunity to check in with governments and the private sector to make sure these commitments are being translated into action. 

What is the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance doing about climate change? 

It also serves a moment to check in on our own commitments and hold ourselves accountable. The Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance has committed to leveraging $1 billion from public and private sources in climate-smart, risk-informed development to build resilience to climate change and to “elevate community voices and research findings” with international donors and governments to show why increased investment in flood resilience is urgently needed.  

Sharing our expertise with policy makers in Nepal

We’ve worked hard over the past few months to advance these objectives.  For example, in Nepal, we researched gaps in funding for disaster risk reduction and adaptation. We are extremely proud to work with the Nepalese government and several municipalities who, aware of funding gaps in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, are now committing to dedicate 5% of their budgets to these important topics. 

Working to increase private sector funding for flood resilience 

A major theme from the Climate Action Summit was the private sector’s understanding of, and commitment to climate action, as exemplified by initiatives such as the Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment (CCRI). We applaud these commitments and want to bridge the divide between funding committed at global levels by the private sector and real world impact on the ground for communities facing increased flood risks. In Indonesia, we are exploring an innovative Impact Bond that would harness private sector financing to build flood resilience in a city regularly impacted by flooding. This will advance our commitments to marshal private funding and we  welcome private and public sector partners to join this effort so we can start turning plans to invest in resilience into real world interventions. 

However, considering the scale of the climate crisis, though, much more needs to be done. Only about US$15 billion has been made available to developing countries for adaptation, of which only about $3 billion was for disaster risk management (CPI, 2018). For context, it is estimated developing countries need around $140 billion to $300 billion per year to implement adaptation models (UNEP, 2018).

What needs to happen at COP25? 

This year’s COP must build on the commitments from of the Climate Action Summit and keep pushing to close the gap in financing. This could help set 2020, the ‘Year of Action on Adaptation’, up for success, which would include securing increased commitments and disbursement of adaptation and disaster risk reduction funding for populations already under threat by climate change. The Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance is exploring ways to better quantify existing gaps in financing and welcomes conversations at COP25 and beyond about how we can collectively close this gap. The lives of the most vulnerable people depend on it.

Who is Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance? 

The Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance is a multi-sectoral partnership which brings together community programmes, new research, shared knowledge, and evidence-based influencing to build community flood resilience in developed and developing countries. We help people measure their resilience to floods and identify appropriate solutions before disaster strikes. Our vision is that floods should have no negative impact on people’s ability to thrive. To achieve this we are working to increase funding for flood resilience; strengthen global, national and subnational policies; and improve flood resilience practice. Find out more here. 

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