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Leaders urge more ambition in building climate resilience

Experts and leaders meeting at the Korea Global Adaptation Week in Songdo, the Republic of Korea, have urged countries to increase their climate ambition and to scale up their efforts to build resilience to the unavoidable impacts of climate change.

Korea Global Adaptation Week
Delegates at the opening of the Korea Global Adaptation Week

The meeting, attended by representatives of national and sub-national government authorities, academia, the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the UN and many other organisations, holds from April 8 to 12, 2019 against the backdrop of the aftermath of Cyclone Idai, which has impacted millions of people in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

“We have a huge responsibility to take action as we see extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change,” UN Climate Change (UNFCCC) Deputy Executive Secretary, Ovais Sarmad, stressed during the high level opening session of the Korea Global Adaptation Week.

According to Sarmad, this event is a platform for “determine how they [the countries] can build their resilience and their ability to cope better in the future”, as well as an opportunity to address access to funding for effective adaptation to climate change.

The UN official called on governments to swiftly increase their ambition, given that the most recent UN Emissions Gaps Reports reveal that current that national climate action plans (“Nationally Determined Contributions, or “NDCs”) will not be enough to hold global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.

The UNFCCC Deputy Executive Secretary specifically mentioned the need to update the current NDCs in line with the science and the Paris Agreement before the starting implementation date in 2020.

Ovais Sarmad highlighted the fact that there is now consensus on the implementation on the rulebook of the Paris Agreement, approved last year in Katowice.

“The world has embarked on a major chapter in addressing climate change to raise ambition and to take concrete actions…we now have the tools, the global agreements and more importantly also public awareness specially by the younger generation,” he said.

Speaking at the opening session, Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary-General of the United Nations and Co-chair of the Global Commission on Adaptation, said he was sorry to have to repeat the same message “over and over again that we need urgent climate action” after seeing that greenhouse gas emissions increase over the last three years.

He called the last IPCC special report a “global warning on global warming” as it confirms that “climate change is running faster than we might have thought” and “it is not an issue of tomorrow”.

“We must act, and we must act now” with “far more ambitious targets”, he warned. “If we continue like this, the city of Incheon will be flooded.”

The former UN Secretary-General also called for an increase of budgets allocated to adaptation and to build more resilience through National Adaptation Plans (NAPs).

The high-level opening session involved leading figures in climate change adaptation including Myung-Rae, Minister of Environment of the Republic of Korea; Park Namchoon, Mayor of Incheon; Je Yong Yoon, President of KEI; Hana Hamadalla Mohamed, Chair of the LEG; Yannick Glemarec, Executive Director of the Green Climate Fund; Judith Karl, Executive Secretary of the UN Capital Development Fund; and Jae Chun Choe, NAP Champion from Republic of Korea.

The  Korea Global Adaptation Week in Songdo includes four key events, including the 6th edition of the NAP Expo, which is an annual outreach event organised by the Least Developed Countries Expert Group (LEG) under the UNFCCC, in collaboration with various bodies and organizations, to promote exchange of experiences and foster partnerships between a wide range of actors and stakeholders on how to advance National Adaptation Plans.

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