The Global Centre on Adaptation (GCA) regional office was inaugurated through a virtual event
The Global Centre on Adaptation (GCA) is an international organization hosted by the Government of Netherlands that acts as a solutions broker to accelerate, innovate and scale up adaptation action for a climate resilient world. The GCA is building a set of worldwide networks of regional offices. Last year, they opened their first regional office in Beijing. Through these networks, the centre aims to support the policy activities, research and communications, governments and private sectors in developing and scaling adaptation actions.
The Global Centre on Adaptation (GCA) regional office was inaugurated through a virtual event on 8 September 2020 by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Ban Ki-moon, the 8 th Secretary-General of the UN and Chairman of the GCA. Matt Rutte, Prime Minister of Netherlands, Dr Patrick V Verkooijen, CEO of the GCA, and regional ministers from across South Asia were also present at the online event.
Last year in July, during the Dhaka meeting of the Global Commission on Adaptation, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Ban Ki-moon mutually agreed to establish the GCA regional office in Bangladesh. This decision came from Bangladesh’s growing commitment to tackling the climate crisis, its global leadership in addressing the challenges of climate change, and exemplary success in adaptation measures against climate adversities.
The new office of the GCA will be located at the new building of the Department of Environment in Agargaon, Dhaka. The Centre will work with and support the South Asian governments, leaders, experts, investors, and communities in strengthening and scaling adaptation actions to tackle the climate emergency.
The goal of the Global Centre on Adaptation, as mentioned by Patrick Verkooijen, CEO of the GCA, is “to provide urgent and cost-effective ways to help communities across South Asia, particularly at the local level by the combined expertise and resources of the partners of GCA.” The main focus of GCA is to share knowledge and expertise on climate change adaptation with a stronger focus on locally-led adaptation.
Ban Ki-moon applauded Bangladesh’s effective adaptation methods that helped save thousands of lives over the years against extreme climate events and stated that “Bangladesh is a striking example of how vulnerable communities can be the most innovative in adaptation through climate change.”
Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands praised Bangladesh’s early warning system and effective measures to tackle Cyclone Amphan when explaining the need for climate adaptation and resilience. He also said that “If investments are made in adaptation now, we will be better prepared for climate change down the line. It will cost money but the long-term benefit will far outweigh the short-term cost.”
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina invited the countries to enhance their nationally determined contributions by December 31 this year in tackling the climate threats and execute the 2015 Paris Agreement. She also hoped that the regional office will serve as a “centre of excellence” for adaptation measures in South Asia by sharing and exchanging knowledge about adaptation practices of the regional countries.
The launching event of the GCA regional office was followed by two events - a press conference and the first annual GCA South Asia Partnership Forum. The partnership forum included key stakeholders and leading experts from across South Asia who provided their thoughts and perspectives on the GCA Bangladesh office.
GCA has developed five priority areas to work in South Asia. The first one is evidence-based decision making where GCA aims to provide systemized data solutions that are relevant for adaptation as well as work on a data platform that will be a tool to share data and knowledge. This knowledge and experience sharing between countries will have a central focus on adaptation plans and practices across South Asia.
The second focus area of the GCA is to support locally-led adaptation and actions in Bangladesh and replicate it across the South Asian region. This includes mobilizing funds to expand the resources for LLA,supporting partners to develop and strengthen policies and structures for LLA as well as working with grassroots communities, universities, national and local governments to develop a bottom-up adaptation learning mechanism.
Another priority area is to build and develop a resilient infrastructure based on Nature-based Solutions. In the Global Commissions report, there is a notion – “Every one dollar invested in Nature-based Solutions results in ten dollar returns or investments.” In Bangladesh, coastal afforestation is a primary example of investment in NbS. The goal of GCA is to support and accelerate the practice of NbS regionally and globally. Ken O’Flaherty in this regard stated that “There are significant opportunities to put nature at the heart of climate action particularly in the areas of adaptation and resilience; and regional cooperation will be crucial in this scenario.”
GCA also aims to develop approaches that focus on water intervention in urban areas. “In the upcoming 5 years, GCA plans to, directly and indirectly, support national governments and urban authorities to accelerate and scale urban climate adaptation,” said by Patrick Verkooijen. GCA is committed to ensuring that the climate budget is prioritized and mainstreamed. Judith Herbertson, Development Director of FCDO stressed that “LLA needs to be matched with funding, expertise and local government to achieve the transformation needed.”
One of the most significant parts of the event was the launch of the Global Youth Adaptation Network. GCA will work to build and support youth leadership and keep young people at the centre of this adaptation agenda. The Youth Adaptation Network will serve as a platform for connecting youth from South Asia with their counterparts around the globe to engage, empower, and inspire each other to take the lead in climate resilience.
Saima Wazed Hossain, Thematic Ambassador, Climate Vulnerable Forum launched the YAN and said, “Young people act as powerful agents of change and are needed now more than ever to bring in their new ideas and visions to make a difference in the communities. They can help develop adaptation solutions and many of them are already doing that in the communities.”
Dr Saleemul Huq, Director of International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) and Senior Advisor of the GCA also stated regarding this issue, “The young people of our region are going to be the solution of the climate problem.”
Bangladesh is one of the most climate-vulnerable countries in the world and despite that it has become a prominent leader in climate adaptation and resilience. The GCA Bangladesh office will provide greater opportunities for the country to scale up and strengthen its community and locally-led adaptation strategies by giving the country as well as the region more exposure to the global communities.
Samina Islam is currently working as a Junior Research Officer at the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD).