BANGKOK, THAILAND - Nothing less than transformational change will be required to build societies in Asia and the Pacific that are resilient to climate change, Bindu Lohani, ADB Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development, stressed today in his keynote speech at the Second Asia-Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Forum.
Mr. Lohani told participants that there was a pressing need for countries in the region to accelerate efforts to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Resources currently available to "climate proof" roads, sewers, bridges and pipelines are grossly inadequate, much less to improve data collection, early warning systems, and other activities vital to build climate resilient societies.
"Public lenders and private investors cannot continue to channel billions of dollars to massive infrastructure projects without factoring in the realities of warmer temperatures, rising sea levels and more violent storms," said Mr. Lohani.
Latest estimates suggest that effective adaptation will require around $40 billion per year through 2050 to cope with climate change in the region. In contrast, estimates for 2009-2010 indicated that only $4.4 billion was available for adaptation activities globally.
In 2011, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved a record 59 projects supporting environmental sustainability, which amounted to about $7 billion in financing. In 2012, ADB is seeking to mobilize significant funding for climate adaptation to help close regional gaps in knowledge, capacity and finance.
The two-day forum has attracted over 800 participants, including climate experts, development practitioners, policymakers, and members of NGOs and civil society organizations. Recent flooding in Bangkok and surrounding areas has served as a dramatic reminder of the impact of climate change on Asia and the Pacific and the need for urgent action.
The forum is organized by the Asia Pacific Adaptation Network, the Regional Climate Change Adaptation Knowledge Platform for Asia and ADB. ADB and other agencies supporting the forum have emphasized that climate change is a development issue, since poor communities are among the most exposed to climate change, but have the least capacity to deal with the impacts.