The private sector, including businesses, industries and the financial world, are critical players in climate adaptation. It is essential to engage corporations and finance providers in adaptation efforts. This idea was emphasized by various panelists—including Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC and Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency in UK—who were part of a high level panel at a side event entitled Accelerating action and support for adaptation held on December 12, 2018 at COP24 in Katowice, Poland.
This side event was the first public event hosted by the Global Commission on Adaptation since its launch on October 16th, 2018. As noted here, the Global Commission on Adaptation is led by former UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon, Bill Gates and World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva, and was created to enhance the visibility and political importance of climate change adaptation.
During the side event, the need to elevate climate change adaptation to the political agenda but also to businesses and the financial world was highlighted as a way of more effectively enhancing resilience around the world. Corporations and the financial sector need to adapt to changing circumstances and plan for new climate risks in the economic and market environment.
The World Resource Institute (“WRI”) noted that multinational corporations, in particular, typically have operations and supply chains in many parts of the world and so the way they respond to climate change can affect many populations, including poor communities in developing countries. They can play an important role in making these communities more climate-resilient by building a resilient workforce, among other things.
WRI also points out that climate change adaptation represents an opportunity for corporations to create new goods and services that are more climate-resilient and redesign current products into climate-resilient goods. For example, BASF has developed new technologies for climate change adaptation including a special elastomer polyurethane system “Elastocoast” to protect dikes by absorbing the force of the breaking waves and slowing down the water masses. In order to optimize crop plants such as corn, soy and wheat, BASF’s researchers are also developing stress-tolerant plants that are more resistant to extreme weather conditions such as drought. Moreover, in 2008, Caisse des Dépôts launched an international research programme on adaptation focused on designing and funding infrastructure, recognizing the importance of considering climate change in the design of new infrastructure and modification of old infrastructure.