Why is climate change adaptation important?
As the world faces unprecedented shifts in weather patterns and rising temperatures, adapting to these changes becomes crucial for the survival of ecosystems, communities, and economies.
Against this backdrop, climate change adaptation not only safeguards vulnerable populations and biodiversity but also fosters resilience against major negative impacts of a changing climate, such as biodiversity loss, extreme heat, and water scarcity.
To help UN CC:Learn alumni unpack climate change adaptation, we invited Ms. Anna Kilponen, Global Adaptation Network (GAN) Regional Liaison Officer for Asia-Pacific at UNEP, to discuss climate adaptation with Ms. Lisa Maina, Project Expert Consultant at UNITAR and moderator of the session, at a one-hour Fireside Chat on Climate Change Adaptation.
Ms. Kilponen kicked off the exchange with a glimpse of her academic and professional backgrounds. She pursued her master’s degree in Marine Environmental Sciences at Stockholm University, Sweden, and began her career with WWF in Finland, delivering environmental education in schools and supporting the implementation of a national marine monitoring program. She also acquired experience with Conservation International, IUCN, the Marine Stewardship Council, and UNDP before joining UNEP.
After the introduction, she highlighted that both mitigation and adaptation efforts are currently off the targets set out in the Paris Agreement and that, despite recent advancements at COP28, countries should ramp up their efforts on these two fronts to meet their climate goals.
During the discussion, the problem of financing adaptation strategies was raised by the audience. Ms. Kilponen stressed that financing adaptation is vital but, unfortunately, the gap between adaptation needs and funding keeps widening, and in particular, there is an urgent need to direct funding to local communities. She also noted that while the COP28 did set of a two-year work program to establish indicators and metrics for assessing progress towards the Global Goal on Adaptation, it left out finance. However, she highlighted that there are funding mechanisms that aim to scale up adaptation, such as the Global EbA Fund, which aims to create an enabling environment for the implementation of Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA).
Ms. Kilponen also stressed that engaging with local communities is crucial for effective adaptation since they play a vital role in driving adaptation action and also because adaptation is very much context-specific, with no one-size-fits-all approach. She highlighted the importance of nature-based solutions in adaptation strategies and emphasized the need for actions at all levels, including at the individual one, to address climate challenges effectively and ensure positive effects on biodiversity, air quality, water management, greenhouse gas emission reductions, and health and well-being.
To wrap up the discussion, she pointed out that everyone has a role to play in climate change adaptation. By electing policymakers that advance the adaptation agenda and by changing consumption patterns, individuals can ramp up adaptation in their communities.
This Fireside Chat was attended by over 140 participants and is part of UN CC:Learn’s alumni engagement initiatives. It was organized for everyone who had completed any of the UN CC:Learn’s adaptation-related e-courses.
The Fireside Chats provide exclusive, direct access to the personal/professional insights of UN and other thought leaders/experts on climate change topics. They consist of short (45-60 minutes), informal interviews with engaging specialists followed by an interactive Q&A with participants able to submit questions to the experts in advance.