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SHARM EL-SHEIKH: Organisers of the United Nations climate summit in Egypt have launched a set of 30 goals aimed at accelerating transformative action on climate adaptation this decade.

The Sharm El-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda wants to rally action from both governments and non-state actors on adaptation – the ability to prepare and adjust for a hotter planet with more extreme and damaging events, with the ambition of improving the lives of 4 billion people by 2030.

The agenda was framed as the “first comprehensive global plan” to address adaptation, which has increasingly become a focus of nations bearing the brunt of climate change impacts.

It sets targets for countries, regions, cities, businesses, investors and civil society to strive for across multiple impact themes, including food, agriculture, water, nature systems, housing, infrastructure, planning and finance.

In launching the plan, COP27 President Sameh Shoukry called adaptation a “second line of defence” against climate change, but one that remained a peripheral focus.

“This is becoming really an issue of concern because it doesn’t have adequate attention or finance,” he said in a press briefing at COP27.

“I think what has happened this year, in terms of severe weather patterns and the devastation that has resulted, has highlighted the importance of adaptation and there is no way to avoid that there should be funding,” he said.

“This is an important gap in climate action, a gap that addresses actual lives and livelihoods of people. And if we aren’t going to be concerned with those, then we are missing the real component.

“What we do here has to resonate with ordinary men and women who are currently suffering because of the situation that we find ourselves in.”

The plan calls for the mobilisation of up to US$300 billion every year from both public and private investors. That follows the release of the UN Environment Programme report earlier this month, which showed international finance directed to poorer nations for adaptation was critically low.

Just US$29 billion in adaptation funds flowed from donor nations in 2020, up to ten times below what could be required by the end of this decade. The majority of financing currently is directed towards mitigation, efforts to reduce carbon emissions and prevent further temperature rise.

Among the goals are new targets for reducing food waste, making agriculture systems more sustainable and upping the consumption of plant-based foods and alternative proteins.

Billions of dollars would flow into securing the future of mangroves and coral reefs and providing people with access to clean cooking, which would reduce air pollution and improve community health.

US$1 trillion would be invested in nature-based solutions for communities in urban areas, 400 million hectares of critical ecosystem land would be protected, and 3 billion people would be shielded under early warning disaster systems.

Burning waste would be reduced by 60 per cent, 1 billion people would have access to better housing and renewable energy technology would be rolled out to both underserved communities and public and private transport networks.

“I think we need to bring the science and evidence that more investment and more finance for adaptation and resilience has an impact,” said Dr Mahmoud Mohieldin, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP27.

“You have more stable markets that will be for the benefit of everybody. You will have less likelihood of forced migration and refugees. And you will have better opportunities actually for investment and sharing the benefits,” he said, at the press briefing.

At COP26 in Glasgow last year, developed countries promised to double adaptation funds to US$40 billion per year by 2025. Roadmaps for how those funds would be distributed will remain in focus in Egypt.