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Roundup: Experts call for Urgent action to adapt to climate change

By Maria Vasileiou

ROTTERDAM, The Netherlands, May 11 (PNA/Xinhua) — Urgent and broadened action is needed to avoid increasing costs and impacts of global warming and to adapt effectively to climate change, climate experts told delegates from over a hundred countries meeting here for a three-day conference on climate change.

"We need to pursue our goals on climate protection both on adaptation and mitigation through channels that make sense immediately," said Christiana Figueres, head of the environment department of the United Nations (UNFCCC) at the Climate Adaptation Futures conference, co-organized by the European Commission and the Dutch government, which holds the EU presidency.

"We have to get off the planning, the theoretical legal text mode that we have been for such a long time and to focus on the interest and urgency perceived," said the UN official who was tapped by the UN to lead the Paris climate conference (COP 21) last December.

After nearly two weeks of hard bargaining climate negotiators of 196 parties to the UNFCCC sealed the Paris agreement, which sets out a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius.

The UN has identified 17 sustainable development goals and these could serve as 17 different ways to pursue climate protection by a wide range of parties, including governments, cities, the private sector, NGOs, explained Figueres.

Dutch minister of infrastructure and environment Melanie Schultz van Haegen also emphasized on the importance of climate adaptation. "Even if we manage to cut carbon emissions to a minimum, we need to adapt to a changing world. We mustn't just respond to change. We need to anticipate the future. It's about preventing disasters. Besides saving lives, it's also a logical economic investment. Every euro we spend on prevention generates another seven euros."

The Rotterdam conference is viewed as a follow-up to the Paris climate agreement. It has brought together some 1,700 researchers, scholars, policymakers, high ranking government officials and business people.

DELTA COALITION

On the first day of the conference, an International Delta Coalition was launched to prevent water-related disasters and boost urban deltas' resilience to climate change. A total of 12 countries – the Netherlands, Bangladesh, Colombia, Egypt, France, Myanmar, Indonesia, Japan, Mozambique, the Philippines, South Korea and Vietnam -are its first members.

The Dutch minister called on other countries to join the Delta coalition.

"The bigger the Delta community, the more brainpower and willpower we will have to create safe, sustainable and strong urban deltas," she said.

By 2050, around 650 million people will live in urban deltas, according to the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment.

The Delta coalition will help delta countries to exchange knowledge, experience and ideas and attract international investment in multilateral climate funds.

PRIVATE SECTOR AND FUNDS

Private funds should be further mobilized in the global fight against climate change experts stressed, calling for the private sector to be more involved in climate change adaptations.

"We focus on various aspects of climate protection, but being able to mobilize resources right after an event that could then help long term funding and to put long term planning into practice remains a fundamental question," said Roger Pulwarty, Director of the USA National Integrated Drought Information System, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). "Flexibility to bring in capital is really critical."

In a similar tone John Firth of the British advisory firm Acclimatise, specialised in climate change risk management and adaptation, stressed the need to pull the private sector in climate adaptations' decision making.

He called on governments to focus on involving private companies in taking action to protect the environment through private public partnerships (PPP).

Referring to a recent research undertaken by Acclimatise to assess the private sector involvement in climate change solutions in 16 countries, both developing and developed, he said that "despite all having some form of national climate adaptation program and a legal framework on PPPs none had a PPP in climate change." (PNA/Xinhua)

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