Ban Ki-moon: UK businesses must lead climate adaptation efforts to achieve Mission Possible
EXCLUSIVE: Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has issued a rallying cry to the UK business community to lead efforts to adapt to climate change.
Last week’s historic Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report provided a stark warning that damaging climate change impacts are being felt much sooner and more powerfully than previously projected.
On top of climate mitigation, the flagship report spelled out a need for all nations to adapt to climate change risks already visible today – from floods and droughts to sea level rise and storms.
Businesses must play an integral role in bringing scale and speed to climate adaptation solutions, Ban Ki-moon has said, if the world is to ensure food, energy and water security in the upcoming decades.
Speaking exclusively with edie, Ban emphasised the wide-ranging economic and social benefits businesses could enjoy by achieving Mission Possible: a resilient, carbon-neutral future.
Ban said: “The private sector – ranging from small and medium businesses to large transnational corporations – ought to be leading efforts to adapt to climate change. Many industry sectors with globally distributed supply chains will be significantly affected by climate change, and they recognise the risks that climate change poses to their operations.
“Many businesses also recognise that taking actions to become more climate resilient may open up new opportunities for growth and innovation. In the agriculture sector, for example, those opportunities include new climate resilient crop and livestock varieties.”
Global Commission on Adaptation
The former UN chief spoke to edie ahead of today’s (16 October) launch of the Global Commission on Adaptation, which will encourage bold solutions such as smarter investments, new technologies and better planning to become more resilient to climate-related threats.
Ban praised the UK’s role as a leader on climate change adaptation. He told edie he was “very excited” about the opportunity work with Britain to accelerate adaptation through the Commission and the UN’s Climate Summit in 2019, of which the UK will be a resilience “champion”.
Ban will lead the Global Commission on Adaptation alongside Bill Gates and Kristalina Georgieva, chief executive of the World Bank. The platform includes 17 countries – including the UK, the Netherlands and Canada – and 27 commissioners, representing all regions of the globe and all sectors of industry.
The Commission has identified four major barriers slowing adaptation that it will seek to address. These include scant global leadership on the issue, a general lack of awareness of the opportunities to be gained from climate resilience, and a failure among businesses and governments to incorporate climate change risks into their plans and investments. Adaptation efforts fall short of those who need them most, the Commission claims, including the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.
A flagship report will be launched during the Commission’s first year at the 2019 UN Secretary General Climate Summit, and will set out the actions needed in areas such as food security, supply chains, cities, infrastructure and rural livelihoods.
“We are at a moment of high risk and great promise,” said Bill Gates. “We need policies to help vulnerable populations adapt and we need to ensure that governments and other stakeholders are supporting innovation and helping deliver those breakthroughs to the people and places that need them most.
“If everyone does their part, we can reduce carbon emissions, increase access to affordable energy, and help farmers everywhere grow more productive crops.”
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Adaptation or adaption?