Virtual summit seeks to galvanize climate change adaptation

World leaders are converging — virtually — on the Netherlands Monday for a summit that will seek to galvanize more action and funding to adapt the planet and vulnerable communities to the effects of climate change.

The Netherlands-based Global Center on Adaptation last week called on governments and financers around the globe to include funding for adaptation projects in their COVID-19 recovery spending.

Dutch Overseas Trade and Development Cooperation Minister Sigrid Kaag got the ball rolling by announcing that the summit's host nation will pump 20 million euros ($24 million) into an adaptation fund for the world's least-developed nations and 100 million euros ($121 million) into a program for sustainable farming in Africa's Sahel region.

Wind turbines are seen on a dike near Urk, Netherlands, Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. A group of scientists, including five Nobel laureates, called Friday for more action to adapt the world to the effects of climate change, drawing comparisons with the faltering response to the coronavirus crisis, ahead of a major online conference on climate adaptation starting Monday and hosted by the Netherlands. (AP PhotoPeter Dejong)

Kaag said that by using new and existing adaptation techniques, “we can build a climate-proof future together and promote sustainable economic growth in all parts of Africa.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will use the Climate Adaptation Summit to announce a new Adaptation Action Coalition that brings together more than 120 countries along with the European Union and nearly 90 other organizations to double down on climate adaptation efforts.

Other world leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also are taking part in the 24-hour summit, along with new U.S. President Joe Biden's climate envoy, John Kerry.

Last Thursday, Kerry spoke remotely to an Italian business conference and lamented “wasted years” under the Trump administration to slow climate change and urged faster work to curb fossil fuel emissions.

Biden, in his first hours in office Wednesday, signed an executive order returning the United States to the Paris climate accord. It reversed the withdrawal by President Donald Trump, who ridiculed the science of human-caused climate change.

Host nation the Netherlands has centuries of experience in adapting to the threat of water, from major rivers that run through the low-lying nation to its long North Sea coast. It shares and exports the know-how around the world, for example to flood-prone Mozambique, where Dutch experts have helped strengthen drainage systems and coastal defenses.

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