Remarks by Masatsugu Asakawa, President, Asian Development Bank, at the 54th Annual Meeting, 4 May 2021

Colleagues, Asia and the Pacific faces some uncomfortable truths: 

First, the region is responsible for around 50% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Recent analysis predicts that global energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will grow by close to 5% in 2021 as demand for coal, oil and gas rebounds. More than 80% of the projected growth in coal demand will be from Asia. 

Without decarbonizing energy systems the goals of the Paris Agreement will be beyond reach. 

Second, the Asia Pacific region is experiencing a sharp increase in climate shocks and stresses. Floods, droughts, cyclones, and heat stresses are already impacting livelihoods, food and water security, and the health of millions of people, especially vulnerable populations including women and children and the poorest of the poor. 

More than 60% of the people in the region work in sectors highly susceptible to changing weather patterns. And so we must invest more in climate adaptation, because we are now dangerously close to the point where action could come too little, too late.  

In this regard, we have to listen to the voice of small islands developing states. As Minister Sayed-Khaiyum has stressed often, Fiji and other Pacific Island nations bear the brunt of climate change.  They are rightly calling for deeper international collaboration to help build their resilience to severe storms, rising sea levels, and changing weather patterns that are threatening their existence.

To help developing member countries (DMCs) address these existential challenges, ADB will expand our investment and strengthen our approach in tackling the impact of climate change. Let me highlight five concrete actions.  

First, ADB will enhance its investments in adaptation and resilience in various ways so that our climate finance will be more balanced between mitigation and adaptation. Some examples are of investments that promote nature-based solutions such as mangroves for coastal resilience, flood risk management related infrastructure, and climate smart livelihood practices such as agroforestry. 

Second, ADB will take a holistic approach to enhancing adaptation and resilience. In addition to making physical infrastructure climate-proof, we invest in more projects with climate adaptation as their primary purpose. ADB will promote strong integration of the ecological, social, institutional, and financial aspects of resilience across our operations. 

Third, ADB provides additional grant resources to incentivize poor and vulnerable countries to take on climate and disaster resilience projects. A new thematic pool in the Asian Development Fund (ADF 13); grant window for the most poor and the vulnerable countries, will serve for the purpose. We also commit that the share of ADF 13 financing for climate adaptation and mitigation will be at least 35% in volume, and at least 65% of committed ADF 13 operations in a number of projects will support climate mitigation and adaptation by 2024.  

Fourth, ADB will strengthen community-based approach. We are working with the UK, the Nordic Development Fund, and other financial institutions and global climate funds to roll out an ambitious community resilience partnership program that will support both governments and communities in Asia and the Pacific in their efforts to scale up pro-poor resilience investments. 

Fifth and most importantly, we will hold firm on our ambitious climate finance targets—by 2030, 75% of the total number of ADB’s operations will support climate action, while climate finance from ADB’s own resources will reach $80 billion cumulatively. 

We will continue to help our DMCs achieve, and even increase, their Paris Agreement commitments while charting a fair and equitable path to net-zero—through various programs focusing on nationally determined contributions (NDCs), carbon markets, and development of sound and ambitious long-term national strategies. 

Let me close by noting that ADB is committed to aligning our operations with the Paris Agreement. In line with this, we will be finalizing our new energy policy in time for COP26.