Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks at the high-level launch of the Global Centre for Adaptation Africa, in New York today:
I am pleased to join this impressive gathering of visionary leadership for the launch of the Global Centre for Adaptation’s African office hosted by the African Development Bank. I join all in congratulating my brother President Akin Adesina on his deserved unanimous re-election as President [of the African Development Bank] for a second term.
The Secretary-General and I welcome this important step, which will help to foster and support initiatives that will increase the adaptative capacity and resilience of African communities and countries in the face of climate change.
The Secretary-General’s climate change strategy is focused on increased ambition on adaptation, mitigation and finance, and this new Regional African Office will address two of these priorities directly.
As the world continues to deal with the impacts of our changing climate, we need to ensure that communities are prepared to deal with the direct and associated challenges of food insecurity, water scarcity, migration, sea-level rise and the loss of lives and livelihoods.
Since the adoption of the Paris Agreement, we have witnessed an increase in adaptation action, including an increase in financial support for assessing climate risks. But the reality is that adaptation and resilience still lag behind mitigation efforts in terms of attention, ambition and support. This centre can and must help address this gap.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has so painfully illustrated both crises do not recognize borders, we urgently need to be prepared for the worst. As pointed out in the recent policy brief prepared by the Global Centre for Adaptation and the African Adaptation Initiative, the COVID-19 crisis has collided with the continent’s climate crisis, where changes in precipitation levels, an increase in temperature extremes and rising sea levels are already having a wide range of direct and indirect impacts on the poorest and most vulnerable.
But, there are also reasons for hope. As the policy brief points out, there is a possible triple dividend to be reaped if Governments, stakeholders and communities make the right policy and investment choices, and share capacity and knowledge widely. These three dividends are: reduced pandemic risk, increased climate resilience and strengthened and sustainable economic recovery.
We can and must “recover better” by building a world that is carbon-neutral, green, just and resilient, with African youth especially women, at the helm not just at the table but leading institutions and initiatives. The future is theirs to shape and own.
I am particularly pleased to see that the African Adaptation Initiative — one of the key projects showcased at the Secretary-General’s 2019 Climate Action Summit — is playing an active role in today’s launch. This initiative can and should be seen as setting out a menu of options for the engagement of all stakeholders.
The COVID-19 pandemic, while devastating, also presents an opportunity to change course and address long‑standing fragilities and injustices. We must seize this moment and ensure a sustainable, inclusive economic recovery that has the welfare, security and future prosperity of African people, especially its women, at its heart. Now is the time for action; now is the time to protect our development gains and ensure a sustainable world for today’s and future generations.
I reiterate the United Nations’ commitment to work with the Centre, Member States and partners to achieve our common goals. Let us use the current twin crises to come out on the right side of history for people and our planet. Thank you.