Warning World Failing to Protect People from Climate Crisis, Secretary-General Urges Bold Action, at Launch of United Nations Environment Programme Adaptation Report

Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message on the launch of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Adaptation Gap Report, today:

Today’s UNEP Adaptation Gap report makes clear that the world is failing to protect people from the here-and-now impacts of the climate crisis.  Those on the front lines of the climate crisis are at the back of the line for support. The world is falling far short both in stopping the growth of greenhouse‑gas emissions and starting desperately needed efforts to plan, finance and implement adaptation in light of growing risks.

Adaptation needs in the developing world are set to skyrocket to as much as $340 billion a year by 2030.  Yet, adaptation support today stands at less than one tenth of that amount.  The most vulnerable people and communities are paying the price.  This is unacceptable.

Adaptation must be treated with a seriousness that reflects the equal worth of all members of the human family.  It’s time for a global climate adaptation overhaul that puts aside excuses and picks up the toolbox to fix the problems.

Starting at the upcoming United Nations climate conference, the adaptation gap must be addressed in in four critical ways.

First, by dramatically increasing the quantity and quality of financing for adaptation needs.  Last year, developed countries agreed to double support for adaptation to $40 billion a year by 2025.  At the twenty-seventh Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27), they must present a credible road map with clear milestones on how this will be delivered—- preferably as grants, not loans.  They must also use their influence as Government shareholders of multilateral development banks to prioritize adaptation, resilience and vulnerability.  At least half of all climate finance should flow towards adaptation.

Second, the world urgently needs a new business model for turning adaptation priorities into investable projects.  There is a mismatch between what Governments propose and what financiers consider as investable.  The investment pipeline is blocked; we must unblock it now.  We need a global surge in adaptation investment to save millions of lives from climate carnage.  It is high time for unprecedented coordination among recipient Governments, development partners and other financiers.  This is the only way to ensure diverging priorities coalesce in support of developing countries’ adaptation efforts.

I have asked the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Nationally Determined Contributions Partnership, the Green Climate Fund and other climate funds to work with public and private financers and targeted countries to pilot a new Adaptation Pipeline Accelerator.  They will report on their initial work during COP27.

Third, we need far better climate‑risk data and information.  Vulnerable countries and communities need access to localized data and information on climate risks to inform adaptation actions.  I challenge Governments, academia, data and digital technology institutions and private companies to work together to boost investment to make it happen.  This will save lives and protect livelihoods.

Finally, we must make sure that we deliver on my call for universal early warning systems within five years by providing the financial and technical support needed to implement the action plan that will be presented by World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to COP27.

These four priorities demand unprecedented international cooperation and support.  We must also recognize that, in many places, it is too late for adaptation.  COP27 must provide a clear and time-bound road map on closing the finance gap for addressing loss and damage.  This will be a central litmus test for success at COP27.  The world must step up and protect people and communities from the immediate and ever-growing risks of the climate emergency.  We have no time to lose.

For information media. Not an official record.