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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

25 May 2022


Excellency Mr. Collen Vixen Kelapile, President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council,

Excellency Ms. Khadeeja Naseem, Minister of State for Environment, Climate Change and Technology of the Maldives,

Excellencies, distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to join you at this side event, Asia-Pacific Riskscape @ 1.5°C: Subregional Pathways for Adaptation and Resilience.

The COVID-19 pandemic has torn through the socio-economic fabric of the world and has revealed the fragility of our interconnected systems.

While Asia and the Pacific are no strangers to frequent disasters, which range from floods and cyclones to droughts and heatwaves and earthquakes, the pandemic has demonstrated how interwoven are the impacts of natural and biological hazards. This has imparted urgency to the need for better understanding of the cascading nature of risks and how to design more resilient systems in building back better.

Towards this end, I am pleased to launch subregional editions of the Asia-Pacific Disaster Report.

This report builds on the findings of our flagship Report, and it is aligned with the elements we have proposed in the theme study of this year’s Commission session.

Our analysis proposes pathways to strengthen subregional cooperation approaches for reclaiming our future in a richer but riskier world.   

Earlier this year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its sixth assessment report, which shows a startling increase in the impacts of global warming: as we move from 1.5 to 2 degrees of warming, the risks to economies and people increase exponentially.

ESCAP has downscaled the global models of warming to Asia and the Pacific and its subregions.

Our analysis shows that under all climate-change scenarios, and in comparison to global averages, Asia and the Pacific will be most impacted by heavy precipitation, followed by agricultural drought, hot temperatures/heatwaves, and warming winds with intensifying tropical cyclones.

Further, our Report highlights how each ESCAP subregion will be impacted in medium- and long-term climate scenarios, and where new hotspots of cascading risk scenarios will be created. This is important as the regional analysis often masks subregional specificities.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

In this regard, allow me to share three key recommendations from the Report:

First, there is a need for customized adaptation and resilience pathways with emphasis on risk-informed development policies and investments in vulnerable subregions, which are also likely to be impacted the most under 1.5-to-2-degree warming scenarios. The adaptation gaps are critical.

Second, frontier technologies and digital innovations not only reduce the cost of implementing the policy interventions but also have game-changing impacts on scaling up transformative adaptation.

Such innovations enhance risk analytics like impact forecasting, early warning, surveillance and strategic foresight that can all contribute to more efficient management of pandemics like COVID-19.

Third, it’s time to capitalize on the untapped potential of regional and subregional cooperation to address the region’s shared vulnerabilities and risks that have emerged as more critical under 1.5 to 2 degrees warming scenarios.

Subregional cooperation is key to supporting transboundary ecosystem adaptations and nature-based solutions for building a climate resilient society for all.

To facilitate the implementation of these recommendations, ESCAP has put in place a Risk and Resilience Portal, which is also designed to support monitoring and implementation of the Sendai Framework of Action for Disaster Risk Reduction as well as climate- and disaster-related Sustainable Development Goals.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

The side-event will discuss various pathways to build systemic resilience and recommend ways to strengthen subregional cooperation for accelerated climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction.

I believe that discussions here will not only enhance our understanding of the problems but will also provide guidance to further subregional cooperation.

We look forward to your insights and I wish you fruitful discussions.

Thank you very much.

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