The destructive impacts of the climate crisis are being felt around the world. This year, unprecedented floods have left one-third of Pakistan underwater, people and animals are dying from climate-related droughts in East Africa, and China is experiencing the most severe heat wave ever recorded.
The United Nations Secretary-General has urged world leaders to invest as much in adaptation as they do in mitigation because without adaptation economies, food security, and global stability are under threat. Ahead of the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction on 13 October, we take a closer look at five key ways the world can better adapt to the climate crisis:
1. Early warning systems
Research shows bonus new member 100 that just 24 hours warning of an oncoming heatwave or storm can reduce the subsequent damage by 30 per cent. Early warning systems that provide climate forecasts are one of the most cost-effective adaptation measures, yielding around nine dollars of total benefits for every dollar invested.
With timely warnings, people can take early action by blocking up doors with sandbags to anticipate floods, stockpiling resources, or in some extreme cases, evacuating from their homes. In Bangladesh for example, even as climate change becomes more severe, the number of deaths from cyclones has fallen by 100-fold over the past 40 years, due mainly to improved early warnings.
2. Ecosystem restoration
The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration launched by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and partners in 2021 triggered a global movement to restore the world’s ecosystems. This global restoration effort will not only absorb carbon but also increase ‘ecosystem services’ to defend the world from its most devastating impacts.
In cities, restoring urban forests cools the air and reduces heatwaves. On a normal sunny day, a single tree provides a cooling effect equivalent to two domestic air conditioners running for 24 hours. On coasts, mangrove forests provide natural sea defences from storm surges by reducing the height and strength of the sea waves. Moreover, protecting mangroves is 1,000 times less expensive per kilometre than building seawalls.
3. Climate-resilient infrastructure
Climate-resilient infrastructure refers to assets and systems such as roads, bridges, and power lines that can withstand shocks from extreme climate impacts. Infrastructure is responsible for 88 per cent of the forecasted costs for adapting to climate change.
A World Bank report finds that climate-resilient infrastructure investments in low- and middle-income countries could produce roughly US$4.2 trillion in total benefits, – around US$4 for each dollar invested. The reasoning is simple. More resilient infrastructure assets pay for themselves as their life-cycle is extended and their services are more reliable.
4. Water supplies and security
The story of climate change is, in many ways, a story about water, whether it is floods, droughts, rising sea levels, or even wildfires. By 2030, one-in-two people are expected to face severe water shortages. Investing in more efficient irrigation will be crucial, as agriculture accounts for 70 per cent of all global freshwater withdrawals. In urban centres, roughly 100-120 billion cubic metres of water could be saved globally by 2030 by reducing leaks. Governments are being encouraged to develop holistic water management plans, known as Integrated Water Resource Management, that take into account the entire water cycle: from source to distribution, treatment, reuse and return to the environment.
5. Long-term planning
Climate adaptation solutions are more effective if integrated into long-term strategies and policies. National Adaptation Plans are a crucial governance mechanism for countries to plan for the future and strategically prioritize adaptation needs.
A key part of these plans is to examine climate scenarios decades into the future and combine these with vulnerability assessments for different sectors. These can assist in planning and guiding government decisions on investment, regulatory and fiscal framework changes and raising public awareness.