GCA: from concept to an extensive global network on climate adaptation with Ban Ki-Moon

The necessity of Climate Adaptation

Since February 2017, an assembly of dedicated members of the climate adaptation community has been working hard to accelerate adaptation. Facilitated by Bax & Company, the consortium, including United Nations Environment, the Government of the Netherlands, National Institute of Environment Studies Japan, and Acclimatise, built a future for the first ever Global Centre of Excellence on Climate Adaptation.

On 16 October 2018 the Global Commission on Adaptation was launched. The Commission will be overseen by the 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Bill Gates, and World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva. The Global Commission will elevate the political visibility of adaptation and will focus on solutions, catalyzing a global adaptation movement and accelerating action.

Launch of the Global Center on Adaptation

The issue of climate adaptation is an elusive one. Many stakeholders have spoken about the challenges of measuring effective climate adaptation and pooling the global knowledge and efforts. The signing of the Paris Agreement put Climate Change Adaptation on a par with Climate Change Mitigation for the first time. Combined with the world-wide realisation of the severe impacts of climate change, this awakened the world to the need to adapt, forcing the issue into the spotlight.

In 2017, the stakeholders of the Center mobilised the adaptation community; shaped its mission, message and outreach. Over this period, the GCECA enlisted the support of some of the biggest names to support the mission of tackling the impacts of climate change.

In November 2017, the Center launched at COP 23. Since then, the need for such a united effort has become even clearer. We have witnessed many examples of the profound effects of climate change and also how communities of people, with the help of experts, can come together to drive policy change, rebuild with resilience in mind and show us where excellent climate adaptation is present.

The UNFCC’s Executive Secretary, Ms Espinosa, said, “what needs to happen is that each and every person, every company, every government at all levels, every institution really includes climate change in their assessments of risk, in their decisions about how they operate, that will bring the transformation.”

Global partnerships and local communities

As Ms Espinosa highlighted, tackling the profound effects of climate change will need great coherence and coordination. Precisely the type of coherence and coordination that a global centre, with 47 committed partners to date and 10M euros seed funding, can provide. The strength of the Global Center on Adaptation lies in its partner organisations and the experts therein. Together, we can co-create approaches to – and define a globally shared understanding of – this enormous problem we are all facing.

Beyond sharing our expertise, we must also learn from the stories of those communities directly affected by the changing climate. In the stories of these communities and the livelihoods at risk, we can all find a common ground and start having a real and excellent impact.

The future of GCA

Christiaan Wallet GCECA

The next steps for the Center are some of the most exciting yet. We welcome a new CEO, Patrick Verkooijen, whom we are confident will lead GCA to further drive its mission in accelerating excellence.

On this note, we would also like to compliment and thank the founder and interim director, Christiaan Wallet, for his important contributions to the Center. In 2016, he organised Adaptation Futures 2016 and based on the outcomes started to build GCECA. During Adaptation Futures 2018, Christiaan was praised by Richard Klein on behalf of the whole adaptation community for leading The Centre to its current state.

New Global Center on Adaptation led by Ban Ki Moon

In addition to a new CEO, a committee of political leaders will be convened by Ban Ki Moon, within The Centre, to establish and promote the Global Center on Adaptation. Its aim will be to drive effective policy when planning on a local, regional, national and global scale. There will be an emphasis on ensuring that climate adaptation measures are being implemented in the most pragmatic and holistic way, to have as profound and positive an impact as possible for the communities that need them.

This is a big step for The Center. It is built on 18 months of relentless effort from a devoted and faithful consortium and operations director, who have exceeded expectations and kept the needs and priorities of those who are being directly affected at the core of all that GCA does and will do.

There are many things that can be done – and are being done – to cope with the severe effects of climate change. The reality, however, is that climate-related disaster is already having a serious impact on many people’s lives. For many, the need for excellent adaptation has become an urgency.

The Global Center on Adaptation and our network are here. We have our mission and our focus, and we will be relentless in achieving this goal.

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