Beirut, 25 January 2021 (ESCWA)–The Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), Ms. Rola Dashti, today participated through a video message in the Inaugural Ministerial Dialogue on Adaptation Action convened by the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA) during the Climate Adaptation Summit 2021, in which she urged the international community to increase funding for climate adaptation. She stressed that such funding was crucial for the Arab region, where temperatures are rising and water and food vulnerability is increasing, and where finance for mitigation remains four-times greater than funding for adaptation.
About 30 Heads of State will be participating in the online Summit, hosted by the Netherlands over a 24-hour cycle to enable participants from across the globe to discuss solutions and measures to tackle the climate emergency, and enable a green recovery from COVID-19 while achieving sustainable development.
In her intervention, Dashti underlined the losses to be incurred by the Arab region in terms of agricultural productivity, with 63% of arable land already highly vulnerable to climate change. This would further increase dependency on imports and deplete foreign reserves when countries were already struggling with heavy debt burdens, she said. “Despite these challenges,” she added, “loans to Arab States for climate action still exceed grants by a factor of 10 to 1”.
According to the GCA State and Trends in Adaptation Report 2020, presented at the Dialogue and to which ESCWA has contributed data and analysis on the region, a future of acute water scarcity affects every aspect of life therein. Furthermore, two-thirds of the region’s freshwater resources cross one or more international boundaries, which can aggravate conflicts in the absence of shared management frameworks.
The report underlines that climate adaptation should become a key element of post-COVID recovery plans and invites the region to “secure more climate finance resources… get better at costing adaptation needs, increasing open access to more and better climate data, and identifying bankable projects to leverage private-sector participation in adaptation”.
In turn, Dashti called on Governments to meet their global commitments, adding that this required increasing the quantity and quality of climate finance, including bringing public international concessional finance to scale. She highlighted the Climate/SDGs Debt Swap Mechanism launched by ESCWA at the end of last year to enhance climate finance in climate vulnerable Arab States and forge partnerships that can redirect debt payments for climate action, in accordance with national development plans and nationally determined contributions (NDCs).
ESCWA provides support for Arab States on climate adaptation and finance through its Arab Centre for Climate Change Policies, leveraging its strategic partnerships with GCA, donor countries, and other international and regional organizations working on climate change.
One of five United Nations regional commissions, ESCWA supports inclusive and sustainable economic and social development in Arab States, and works on enhancing regional integration.