Mr. Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of the WMO,
Ms. Rola Dashti, Executive Secretary of ESCWA,
Dr. Abdullah Ahmed Al Mandous, President of the WMO Regional Association II (Asia),
Excellencies, distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to join you at this High-level Event on the launch of the Report on the State of the Climate in Asia 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world. Amidst the pandemic, countries are also being hit by a range of disasters and having to deal with the increasingly damaging impacts of climate change.
The devastating floods this month in Kerala, India, and tropical cyclone Dianmu that triggered large-scale flooding and landslides in Thailand last month are the two most recent examples. In June this year, Indonesia alone faced more than 70 floods and landslides.
These extreme climate events occurring in quick succession, signal an emergency that cannot be ignored.
The 2021 edition of our publication, the Asia Pacific Disaster Report, underlines that while prominent progress has been made in reducing disaster-related deaths, the pandemic has revealed that countries are ill-prepared to deal with multiple overlapping and cascading crises.
Furthermore, as shown in ESCAP’s SDG Progress Report 2021, the region fell short of its 2020 milestones, even before dealing with the global pandemic. On its current trajectory, fewer than 10 per cent of the SDG targets are on track to be achieved by 2030. The most alarming are regressing trends on climate action (Goal 13) and life below water (Goal 14), both of which are related to disaster resilience.
The IPCC Assessment Report Six determines that it is still possible to achieve the 1.5-degree-target. 2021 is a decisive year. The Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) submitted in 2015 were collectively not ambitious enough to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees and the upcoming COP26 meeting is expected to see more ambitious NDCs.
To build back better from COVID-19, ESCAP member States earlier this year adopted a resolution that requested the secretariat to promote discussions on the implementation of the health aspects of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030.
More recently in August, the ESCAP Committee on Disaster Risk Reduction recommended a scale-up of regional and subregional cooperation strategies that integrate disasters, including climate-related disasters and associated health perspectives to complement national efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Consequently, our efforts going forward will focus on strengthening policy coherence for improved risk assessment, surveillance, early warning systems and resilient infrastructure. This will require a better understanding of risks, capitalizing on frontier technologies, investing in health and social protection, as well as ensuring targeted and forward-looking fiscal spending.
In this context, the WMO-led State of the Climate in Asia 2020 report being launched today assumes greater significance, as it unpacks the interconnections between the WMO climate indicators and the SDGs. It helps narrow down existing science and policy gaps and thus contributes to accelerated implementation of climate policy actions.
Within the framework of the WMO/ESCAP MoU, ESCAP is very pleased to have had the opportunity to contribute to the analysis undertaken for this publication, and I extend my personal thanks to Secretary-General Taalas for the productive partnership.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
The State of Climate Report in Asia 2020 helps raise climate ambition in a timely way by coupling adaptation with mitigation. For our part, as a unique and inclusive intergovernmental platform for Asia and the Pacific, ESCAP will continue to promote cooperation in disaster risk reduction and climate resilience.
I look forward to further strengthening our partnership with the WMO and other agencies of the UN family as we support building a post-pandemic climate resilient recovery that leaves no one behind.
Thank you for your attention. I wish you a very successful event.