Investing $1.8 trillion between 2020 and 2030 in projects to help communities adapt to the worsening impacts of climate change could yield $7.1 trillion in economic benefits, according to a report released on Tuesday by a high-level international commission.
The report was written by the Global Commission on Adaptation, which is tasked with “raising the visibility of climate adaptation on the global agenda” in the run-up to the upcoming United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York on September 23. It is led by a group of political and business leaders, including former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva.
The commission urges governments to invest more in climate adaptation because it is not happening at the pace and scale required to address the worsening impacts of climate change. The commission also said the return on investments in building up climate resilience can range from 2:1 to 10:1.
“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,” Ban said in a statement.
The report highlights five areas where investment is needed most urgently: early warning systems, dryland agriculture, mangrove protection, climate-resilient infrastructure and climate-resilient water resources.
Gates, who chairs the international development-focused Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with his wife Melinda, said millions of smallholder farmers and their families in developing countries are among the most vulnerable to extreme changes in temperature and rainfall that lowers their crop yields.
“With greater support for innovation, we can unlock new opportunities and spur change across the global ecosystem,” he said.
The report said that climate adaptation delivers a “triple dividend” by avoiding future losses, spurring innovation and delivering social and environmental benefits.