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Heeding the science is the gateway out of the climate crisis

Ahim Steiner, head of the United Nations Development Programme, highlighted that the path to resolving the climate crisis and ensuring a sustainable future of the planet is paved with science-based knowledge. In a statement that you can read below, Steiner referred to the report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a document that could be used as a scientific basis for climate action and adaptation to climate change.

“Nearly half of the global population is now highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. That includes everything from rising sea levels, drought, and more frequent and more intense weather events that threaten lives, livelihoods and homes. Crucially, we must now recognise the worsening symptoms of our warming, faltering planet — and react immediately by helping countries to adapt to the increasingly devastating effects of climate change. This need for rapid action is amongst the key conclusions of a landmark new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations (UN) body for assessing the science related to climate change.

The IPCC report, entitled: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability argues that continuing to ignore the science will put people and planet in peril like never before. Yet it also offers solutions. Climate adaptation — measures to protect lives, livelihoods and biodiversity — must be elevated and placed at the very core of global climate action efforts. The commitment at COP26 in Glasgow to double adaptation finance — from $20 billion to at least $40 billion per year — is an urgent priority and a good first step, but more concerted efforts will be needed. In particular, UN Secretary-General António Guterres has been “pushing to get to 50% of all climate finance for adaptation”. Investment in climate resilient development is needed more than ever and at a greater scale.

UNDP is committed to continue using IPCC findings as the scientific basis for our climate action. Our programmes will carefully build on the data provided by the report so that our support to countries on adaptation can evolve, shift and grow as needed.

Over 96% of the 120 developing countries that UNDP has supported with its Climate Promise have enhanced their adaptation ambitions in their Paris Agreement pledges. The Climate Promise is part of wide-ranging efforts by the organization to provide more support to vulnerable communities who are living on the frontlines of climate change. Over the past two decades, UNDP has supported developing countries, including Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States to implement their adaptation priorities — from enhancing food security, to increasing the protection of ecosystems, to rolling-out vital early warning systems.

I echo the call by the UN Secretary-General that every country must honour the Glasgow pledge to increase their climate ambition to align with the objectives set by the Paris Agreement and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.

The “Africa COP” in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt in November 2022 will be a key moment to accelerate climate action. However, we cannot wait that long to instigate the level of change necessary. We need governments, particularly in developed countries, to rapidly curb their emissions and to scale-up support for climate adaptation; and for citizens to demand climate action now from their governments. We also need the international community to equitably deliver the level of climate finance that has been agreed upon but not yet fulfilled.

If the world heeds the science rather than ignore it — there is a clear beacon of light guiding the world out of this climate crisis towards a more sustainable future for people and planet.”

Achim Steiner, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)