“That poor countries are shouldering the heaviest costs of climate change, when they have done the least to cause it, is a stain on our collective morals.”

Patrick Verkooijen

international finance that is in principle available. In other cases, it is very clear what should be done to avoid the worst effects of global warming, but institutional capacity for implementation is limited and attracting international finance is obstructed by difficulty in meeting international fiduciary standards on staffing, expertise, experience and internal controls that are required for access to international finance.

Country like Mali with low-lying coastal areas of China, or the mountain communities in Nepal with those in Chile.

OFQ: How can the international community / development institutions such as the OPEC Fund best help in the short and longer terms? PV: Overall, countries and the private sector need support in being better prepared with more precise understanding of the challenges and solutions. Knowledge and technology transfer must be facilitated between developed and developing countries, but certainly also between developing countries that despite differences in conditions and challenges have many commonalities as well. While some of that will benefit from knowledge development in the long-term, much is already available and must be synthesized and disseminated more broadly right now. Also, planning processes and institutional capacity can be supported in countries to better link understanding and knowledge to policy and planning processes. Finally, finance flows and readiness need urgent support, so that institutions are better prepared to facilitate investments reaching vulnerable communities and sectors. The GCA estimates that investing just

US$1.8 trillion in building resilience against climate change over the next decade could generate US$7.1 trillion in total net benefits. Investment in green technology and resilient infrastructure could help put our coronavirus- shattered world back together again. Renewable energy instead of coal; natural drainage systems instead of more concrete to soak up water and avert floods; reforestation instead of land clearances.

OFQ: What’s the biggest obstacle to successful mitigation / adaptation? PV: We need more resources, more collaboration and more political will to make adaptation a global priority. At the GCA, we believe ambitious mitigation is the best form of adaptation. But even if we reduce emissions to reach the Paris Agreement goals, we will still be living with the impacts of climate change for the next hundred years. There needs to be a greater understanding that adaptation is not a defeat, but a defence against what is already happening. Obstacles can differ between countries. The enabling environment of knowledge/awareness, planning and finance means that a country may have access to finance, but a high need for better understanding of the challenges to make a convincing case for the investments or other

OFQ: How optimistic are you for the future? PV: It’s clear we need a very strong international push on all fronts to really make progress in adaptation. Much of the future damage of climate change can still be avoided by successful mitigation and adaptation, even if some ecosystems will be lost. We need to make sure that progress in adaptation starts moving at a pace faster than continuing global warming. I’m cautiously optimistic this should be possible. The COVID-19 pandemic shows us that as individuals and as communities, we have a choice in how to respond to global threats. For the greater good, we can accept restrictions on how we live, even at a cost to incomes and livelihoods – as 20 percent of the global population is doing right now – or we can respond selfishly, seeking only what is right for us, rather than the collective good of humanity. These choices will be equally important once COVID-19 is tamed. Because what should be clear is that other threats, such as our climate emergency, have not gone away during the present pandemic. The GCA will do its utter best to facilitate progress in adaptation so that in many countries the most adverse consequences of global warming can be avoided, and the incredible global diversity of societies, cultures, livelihoods, economies and communities can be preserved.



PHOTO: Daniel Huebner/

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