30 November 2015

Investment in Climate Resilience Can Save 23,000 Lives a Year, Secretary-General Tells High-Level Meeting

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the High-Level Meeting on Climate Resilience, in Paris today:

I am pleased to be with you to focus on climate resilience and to launch a new effort to address this crucially important challenge.

The impacts of climate change are growing.  Three out of four humanitarian disasters are now climate-related.  Economic losses have increased by more than half over the past decade.  Ecosystems, and food and water supplies, are under increasing pressure.  The hardest hit are the poor and vulnerable — including small farmers, fishing communities and indigenous peoples.

A major disaster can wipe out decades of development gains.  As climate impacts increase, we will see greater disruption to economies and international security.  It is imperative that we strengthen resilience and build adaptive capacity, especially in small island developing States, the least developed countries and most African nations.

Vulnerable countries also need support in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.  We must anticipate climate risks and absorb them in new development models.

World leaders have repeatedly told me they look to the United Nations for assistance in strengthening national and global resilience.  They have also emphasized the need to involve a range of actors, especially the private sector.

At the United Nations Climate Summit in 2014, a number of resilience initiatives from both the public and the private sector were launched.  Today, I am pleased to announce my initiative on resilience, which builds on the momentum from the Summit for stronger action on resilience.  The initiative is a multi-stakeholder partnership that focuses on accelerating climate resilience before 2020 for the most vulnerable by strengthening three elements:

First, the capacity to better anticipate and act on climate hazards through early warning and early action; second, the capacity to absorb shocks by increasing insurance and social protection coverage; third, the capacity to adapt development to reduce risks at the national and international levels.

Investment in climate resilience can save 23,000 lives a year.  It can avoid up to $2 billion a year in asset losses and generate up to $30 billion in increased productivity.  A new, universal and meaningful climate agreement here in Paris must contain strong provisions for all countries to strengthen their resilience.  And it must provide sufficient and timely support for those countries that need it.

Solutions are available.  Examples include the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility and the African Risk Capacity.

Other initiatives with significant potential include the G7 (Group of Seven) InsuResilience Initiative, the CREWS early warning system initiative, the Global Resilience Partnership, and Partners for Resilience.  The initiative that President [Abdel Fattah] Al Sisi is going to present here clearly shows us that Africa is on board against climate change.

We must continue to focus on establishing and strengthening similar risk pools around the world.  These efforts should be brought together for maximum impact before a new agreement comes into force in 2020.  We must also bring the private sector and civil society on board as partners to increase overall effectiveness.

Climate resilience can lead to lasting transformation.  It will enhance our capacity to survive and thrive in the face of adversity.  The presence of world leaders in Paris demonstrates exactly this spirit.  As global temperatures continue to rise, expressing solidarity through tangible support to our neighbours will be essential.

We must all take steps now to adapt to inevitable climate impacts.  It is time to move from risk to resilience.

I thank you for your leadership and commitment.  Let us make this initiative a great success with your help and participation.

For information media. Not an official record.