Keynote address by Fatima Yasmin, ADB Vice-President for Sectors and Themes, at the 22nd Meeting of the High-Level Experts and Leaders Panel on Water and Disasters, 22 November 2023, ADB headquarters, Manila, Philippines

Your Excellency, Dr. Han Seung-soo, excellencies, distinguished guests, and colleagues, I am delighted to welcome you to the 22nd Meeting of the High-Level Experts and Leaders Panel on Water and Disasters or HELP. This is an important forum for sharing knowledge and solutions to the most pressing challenges facing our region.

I am honored to join the HELP group today – my deep appreciation. Today, I will share with you how ADB is building resilience in the face of climate change and water-related disasters in Asia and the Pacific.

According to a recent UNESCAP publication, Asia and the Pacific is the most disaster-prone region in the world. Last year alone, over 140 disasters claimed more than 7,500 lives, affected over 64 million people, and caused economic damage estimated at US$57 billion. Climate change is making these disasters more frequent and severe, threatening lives, livelihoods, ecosystems.

The impact of disasters is not gender neutral. Societies where the socioeconomic status of women is low, natural disasters affect more women than men—both directly and indirectly through related post-disaster events. Social norms and gendered roles significantly affect women and girls’ ability to survive the impacts of a disaster.

At ADB, we have adopted a Climate Change Operational Framework 2017–2030 that guides us to facilitate a regional shift toward a low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development path. As President Masa mentioned earlier today, ADB has set an ambition to provide US$100 billion in cumulative climate financing by 2030 from our own resources for our developing member countries. This includes US$34 billion from adaptation finance, especially from climate sensitive sectors such as water and disaster resilience. We have also achieved 100% alignment of our sovereign operations with the Paris Agreement, and 85% of our private sector projects will be Paris-aligned this year.

We recently approved our Climate Change Action Plan that operationalizes ADB’s commitment and ambition to support the transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient future. Moreover, we have approved capital management reforms that unlock US$100 billion in new funding over the next decade to address overlapping, simultaneous crises in Asia and the Pacific.

These institutional commitments are translated into our enhanced work in the water sector.

ADB believes that water is a key sector for achieving our climate goals as it is essential for water security, food security, climate resilience, and overall development. Our investments span the breadth of the water sector, including integrated water resources management, flood risk management, water supply and sanitation, irrigation and drainage, and coastal resilience. These investments are funding nature-positive, digitally intelligent, and innovative financing solutions across Asia and the Pacific.

ADB recognizes the key role of HELP in supporting countries to recover from global disasters; to strengthen institutions to be more resilient; and to respond better to climate change challenges. ADB, for its part, will use its expertise and partnerships to encourage support and facilitate investments that improve water security and disaster resilience in the region.

Welcome again to our headquarters, and I hope we will have a very productive HELP22 meeting today. Thank you.

Speaker