Speech by Sharon Dijksma, Minister for the Environment, to conclude the Adaptation Futures conference, Rotterdam, 12 May 2016
“Paris marked the final breakthrough of climate resilience in global climate negotiations - the first time the principle of adaptation has been fully acknowledged and laid down. This sends out an important political message: that adapting to climate change is just as important as fighting it. So now, thé challenge is to make the best possible business model for climate adaptation.”
Ladies and gentlemen,
There’s one question you’ve heard a lot over the past few days. A question asked at the end of all 160 conference sessions.
And as Adaptation Futures draws to a close, I’d like to ask myself and all of you the same question once again: so what’s the big deal? What’s the essence of climate adaptation? What makes it so important?
I remember the last time I took part in a conference like this. It was the COP in Paris in December last year.
Expectations were running high for that conference. And after a monumental build-up, it culminated in a historic agreement.
I’ll never forget the moment Laurent Fabius banged his gavel and concluded that we’ve reached an agreement. It was a very special moment.
A moment that saw the world take a major step forward - joining forces to combat climate change and tackle the problems that so many people face every day.
Thát ties in closely with this conference. And with yóur knowledge and commitment.
After all, the Paris summit was more than just a global commitment to fight climate change.
It also marked the final breakthrough of climate resilience in global climate negotiations - the first time the principle of adaptation has been fully acknowledged and laid down.
This sends out an important political message: that adapting to climate change is just as important as fighting it.
This was made clear by many speakers, of course including Christiana Figueres. She invited us to ‘swallow an alarm clock’ since there’s only five years left to bend the curve of growing emissions.
So this conference here in Rotterdam is extremely relevant.
In fact, it’s urgently needed because the world is crying out for new knowledge.
The research has been done and the risks identified. But there are big questions for the years ahead:
-How can we translate our policy plans into specific, achievable goals?
-How do we find the right partners?
-And how do we go about funding our activities?
Thé challenge is to make the best possible business model for climate adaptation.
And this conference is a good springboard for taking things to the next level.
Over the past few days we’ve combined scientific understanding with practical knowledge.
You’ve shown just how many good initiatives are already being implemented around the world.
I was struck by the many lively discussions and the number of visitors to the marketplace. I was also impressed by the many ideas being showcased. From web-based knowledge platforms to risk assessment tools. Examples to mainstream adaptation into common practice.
So where do we go from here?
First, we need to keep adaptation at the top of the political agenda worldwide. And I’d like to play my part in this.
Wherever possible, I’ll draw attention to the outcomes of this conference: the lessons we’ve learned and the best practices we’ve identified.
The next opportunity for me to do so is in two weeks’ time, when the world’s environment ministers gather at the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi.
There, the EU will propose a resolution on climate adaptation. We’ll be calling on the UN and other parties to help countries implement their adaptation strategies.
Second, we must take specific action to learn more about adaptation. There’s a growing need for this knowledge worldwide.
The Netherlands wants to play an active role in this process. As a low-lying delta country, we’ve spent centuries expanding our specialist knowledge and expertise.
That’s why I’m in talks with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and others, to see how the Netherlands can contribute. After all, this country was built on adaptation.
How can we pool and open up our knowledge? Knowledge that helps us identify risks, make plans and find partners and funding?
And of course, we’re already looking ahead to the next global climate summit in Marrakesh at the end of this year. A representative of the Moroccan Minister El Haité will address you all, later this session.
The challenge will be to keep the focus on adaptation.
For my part, I’ll make sure I highlight in Marrakesh the outcomes of this conference.
And the many inspiring examples presented here - in response to questions like:
-How can we make our countries more resilient?
-What works and what doesn’t?
I hope the inspiration you’ve gained over the last few days will lead to clear, practical and feasible conclusions.
And I hope the world will be hearing more from you in the future. Thank you!