Why Global Citizens Should Care
Climate change takes different forms around the world and communities are adapting in different ways. In the years ahead, these adaptation plans will become increasingly central to government planning. You can join us in taking action on this issue here.

Coffee farmers in Costa Rica are switching to citrus trees because of rising temperatures. Coastal communities in Alaska are working to create a global framework for climate relocation in response to rising sea levels. And entrepreneurs in Kenya are replenishing mangrove fields to shield coastlines against storms.

More often than not, these are impromptu groups of everyday people responding in smarts ways to the disruptions of climate change, but their efforts are often hampered by economic and political constraints.

And that’s a problem that Bill Gates and former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon want to fix.

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The duo launched the Global Commission on Adaptation on Wednesday to identify climate resiliency efforts, mobilize resources in support them, and make sure communities and countries are collaborating and sharing best practices.

They tapped 28 world leaders from 17 countries to participate in the commission and will be working with the World Resources Institute and the Global Center on Adaptation to realize their goals.  

“We are at a moment of high risk and great promise,” Gates said in a press release. “We need policies to help vulnerable populations adapt and we need to ensure that governments and other stakeholders are supporting innovation and helping deliver those breakthroughs to the people and places that need them most.”

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“If everyone does their part, we can reduce carbon emissions, increase access to affordable energy, and help farmers everywhere grow more productive crops,” he added.

The group intends to promote effective climate action in four ways.

First, it wants to make climate resilience more widely known among communities and global leaders through their reports and networking efforts. Although climate resiliency efforts need to be continually updated to accommodate the intensifying risks of climate change, many countries have not even begun to implement broad-based resilience efforts.

Second, the group plans to encourage businesses to incorporate climate resiliency into their bottom lines. Already, multinational companies are beginning to support the Paris climate agreement and appreciate that climate change poses an existential risk to many business models.

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Next, Gates and Ban want to prioritize the world’s most marginalized people because they’re often the most vulnerable to climate change and receive the least help.

Finally, the commission wants to mainstream the idea of global leadership on climate change. Although the Paris climate agreement marked a major breakthrough for global cooperation on the issue, most countries are failing to decisively confront the problem.

The commission will explore these goals in a report that will be released to coincide with the UN’s Climate Summit in 2019. It will also develop a series of actions that can be taken around the world.

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“Without urgent adaptation action, we risk undermining food, energy and water security for decades to come,” Ban said in the press release. “Continued economic growth and reductions in global poverty are possible despite these daunting challenges — but only if societies invest much more in adaptation. The costs of adapting are less than the cost of doing business as usual. And the benefits many times larger.”

Disclosure: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a funding partner of Global Citizen.

Editor's note: This piece has been updated to include a disclosure that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a funding partner of Global Citizen. We regret the oversight.


Defend the Planet

Bill Gates and Ban Ki-moon Launch Massive Global Effort to Fight Climate Change

By Joe McCarthy