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This blog was initially published by our partner, Catholic Relief Services

Climate change affects lives each day around the globe. From summer heat waves to drastic floods, it touches the wealthiest individuals living in modern cities and the poorest in developing countries. The effects of climate change can reach far beyond the expected ecosystems, economic sectors and populations.

As the Paris climate negotiations closed Saturday, you heard a great deal of hope and optimism as well as congratulations for vision and progress emanating from COP21. Indeed, important commitments have been made – but they’re pledges, not actions, and they don’t reverse the adverse climate change underway.
 
Which is why adaptation is more important than ever.
 
Among conference influencers, I heard many reasons against adaptation. Such projects aren’t bankable, contended the head of Regions20, a United Nations investor collaboration. Mitigation is more interesting, maintained a global nonprofit agriculture sustainability advocate. And from the United Nation’s adaptation chief: Lessening greenhouse gases is the only thing insurance companies should spend money on.
 
But these leaders, among the most active climate actors at the historic conference, postpone adaptation at their peril – and so does the rest of the world. Consider the warnings that sound so loudly from Stanford and Berkeley calculations: Global incomes could decline 23 percent by 2100 relative to a world without climate change. And by 2030, annual costs of adaptation could be $150-300 billion a year, by the UN’s own estimate.
 
This post originally appeared on December 9, 2015 on the RANE Network
 
As the Paris Climate Talks enter the final frenzied hours attempting to come to an agreement about mitigation targets for the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, how to finance needed mitigation and adaptation to meet those targets, and what to do with loss and damage from unavoidable climate change, I reflect on three important and timely elements of COP21 related to the corporate sector:
  1. Business does not fit in much to the agreement. In the 28 page draft, the private sector is mentioned 11 times, mostly as it relates to access to capital. And while carbon pricing is mentioned a few times, along with euphemisms for international emissions trading, the document is likely to remain silent on the word “market” through its finalization.
I wouldn’t miss the United Nations conference on climate change that begins Monday in Paris, even though it’s the event’s 21st birthday and there’s little to toast from past events.
 
Why is COP21 a must-attend confab for me? This is the first time that climate adaptation will be on the table for discussion. That’s a big deal. Adapting to climate vagaries – think of ocean ports raising sea barriers and drought-tolerant crops being planted in the world’s expanding arid regions – is more important than ever. Adaptation must rise to the top of the climate agenda, ignited by the 6.5 million people displaced in Syria’s drought-driven civil conflict and the 7,000 who died in the superstorm Typhoon Yolanda that hit the Philippines.
 
The Grave Omission of COPs
So we’re in solidarity with those who will be in Paris to work to decrease global climate emissions. And we are focusing our resources on preventing the avoidable and preparing for the unpreventable in the face of climate change. What’s been the grave omission in the COPs of the past decade are agreements on adaptation commitments. Meanwhile, insurers such as Swiss Re report how weather-related catastrophes are mounting and every year we don’t adapt, more lives are lost.
 

This blog was initially published by our partner, the RANE network.

As the world watches countless economic migrants and war refugees journey perilously from their volatile homelands to relatively stable countries that respond with tactics as varied as their histories, two overarching questions arise: How did we arrive at this stage of human suffering? And what can we do to avoid it from occurring again?

I think it is worth examining why some countries withstand stress while others don’t. In my work with the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index, I focus on how countries adapt to the stresses and shocks of climate change. I think there are valuable lessons from this examination of climate risks to help explain why some countries are buffered from creating refuges when times get tough.

In ND-GAIN’s country index, we identify those countries that have significantly improved their economic, social or governance components (which we examine as a way to understand a country’s readiness to take on adaptation investment) and have decreased their climate vulnerability over the past two decades

There is a unique set of 10 countries who have decreased their vulnerability and increased their readiness more over the last 20 years.

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