Hundreds of millions face climate chaos

Friday, January 22, 2021

Billions needed to help people adapt to uncertain future and increasing weather-related hazards

Hundreds of millions of people[i] face disasters like floods, droughts and other weather-related hazards, unless immediate action is taken by governments to help climate vulnerable communities adapt to climate change. 

This is the warning from the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance (the Alliance) ahead of next week’s Climate Adaptation Summit hosted in the Netherlands. 

The Alliance is helping to lead by example and works on adaptation at the community level where the impacts of floods are most felt. By the end of 2021 it will double the number of countries it works in and partner with more than 280 communities in places like Jordan, South Sudan, Malawi and Mozambique.

Sally Tyldesley Senior Resilience Policy Officer at Concern Worldwide, a member of the Alliance, said, “Time is not on our side. Now has to be the time for us to act. Next week’s summit hosted by the Netherlands must be the start of a super-charged year of climate action.  

“The Climate Adaptation Summit is a chance to showcase the importance of helping build community resilience to climate change. We know from experience in places like Bangladesh and Malawi that helping people adapt to climate change will protect livelihoods, education, future prosperity and address deepening inequality, especially in fragile states considered most vulnerable to climate change.” 

The Alliance urges countries and donors to accelerate climate action and at least meet existing commitments by investing $100bn a year, including at least half of these funds for adaptation in climate vulnerable countries. 

This follows recent research from the Alliance that revealed wealthy countries have failed to allocate climate finance to the nations most vulnerable to climate change.

“Unfortunately, the funding delivered is lower than promised and even the funds provided often don’t go where it’s needed most.  Ignoring adaptation commitments will be catastrophic for the communities likely to be impacted most by climate chaos. 

Kirsten Hagon of the Alliance partner IFRC said, “Unless we change course, the number of people in need of international humanitarian aid as a result of climate disasters could double by 2050[i]. It is critical to understand the climate related hazards they face. These communities are on the frontlines of the crisis and we must help them. 

“We no longer have time for platitudes on climate change. We need action now to help the poorest, most fragile states prepare for and adapt to climate change.”

These communities are impeded from building community resilience to climate change because of inadequate funding and lack of authority for decision-making at local levels too. 

One study found that less than 10 percent of funding committed by international funders to help developing countries take action on climate change is directed at the local level.

“Continued lack of local funding for climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction presents a major barrier for communities and local authorities to harness their own critical knowledge to build resilience of the most vulnerable people,” added Ms Tyldesley.

In response, the Alliance recommends:

  • Donors and multilaterals meet previous climate finance commitments including the $100bn climate finance target; and increase funding for adaptation to at least $50bn annually. 
  • Targeting support to the most climate vulnerable countries who, to date, have received insufficient finance to help them cope with the climate crisis
  • Every effort is made to ensure that COVID-19 recovery and stimulus packages build resilience to climate change and reduce climate-related risk
  • Building climate resilience at the community level. This is because local communities are usually the first responders after hazards hit and are best placed to understand, prepare for and respond to the climate crisis. They are aware of their own vulnerabilities and understand how to build meaningful, local-level resilience that meets their needs. 
  • Funders, bilateral, multilateral, and national governments rethink climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction funding to prioritise strengthening local institutions, from local government to civil society organisations.
  • Funding commitments be long-term and flexible so that communities can help people adapt to and cope with climate change, based on the specific needs of the most vulnerable.

For more details have a look at this brief outlining Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance’s actions to advance adaptation and resilience goals

Notes to editor

The Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance finds practical ways to help save lives by strengthening community resilience to floods globally.  Established in 2013, the nine-member alliance, with the exception of Zurich Insurance Group, is funded by the Z Zurich Foundation.

[i] Cost of Doing Nothing by IFRC

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