A-Pac nations need billions to fight climate change: ADB

Bangkok: Countries in the Asia Pacific will require a whopping investment of about USD 40 billion annually till 2050 to neutralise the impacts of climate change, the Asian Development Bank has said.

The requirement is several times the amount of funds available, ADB said. "In contrast, estimates for 2009-2010 indicated that only USD 4.4 billion was available for adaptation activities globally," Bindu Lohani, ADB`s vice-president for knowledge management and sustainable development said here.

He said it is likely that climate change would increase the frequency and intensity of climate-related disasters such as floods, droughts and tropical storms – which the Asia Pacific region is prone to – leading to escalating costs of both disaster-risk management and post-disaster relief and reconstruction.

According to ADB, additional costs of managing climate- related risks to infrastructure range from around 5-15 per cent of baseline investment costs of USD 48 billion and, in fact, exceeded 20 per cent on several recent road transport projects. "We see that billions would be required, to `climate proof` ADB`s programmed investments alone," Lohani said.

Although developed countries had agreed to mobilise up to USD 100 billion a year by 2020 for mitigation and adaptation, this figure is likely to be insufficient to match the region`s needs if countries in the Asia-Pacific want to go beyond adaptation toward increased resilience. It is imperative that adaptation funds are used strategically, ADB said.

The most beneficial uses must be identified and a framework of governance be established that responds to the needs of the most vulnerable, who must be given a strong voice in defining their own needs and priorities, Lohani said.

Such a framework must be country-led and country-owned, inclusive, transparent and accountable, he added.

The Green Climate Fund promised to be truly responsive to the needs of those most deserving of support for critical adaptation tasks and resilience building.

"To make this happen, we must ensure that we get the money and the governance right. We must also ensure that the recipient countries possess the required capacity to manage, allocate, spend and monitor these resources. And we must ensure that the full scope of activities that build the resilience of the vulnerable will be eligible for grant finance through the fund," Lohani said.

The ADB called on Asian nations to accelerate efforts to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Thailand is seeking to borrow 350 billion bhat to finance flood-management projects.

In 2011, ADB approved a record 59 projects supporting environmental sustainability, which amounted to about USD 7 billion in financing. In 2012, it is seeking to mobilise significant funds for climate adaptation to help close regional gaps in knowledge, capacity and finance.

Lohani is in Bangkok to attend the Second Asia-Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Forum.
The event was held after several countries in the Asia- Pacific experienced devastating natural disasters over the past year such as the huge flood in Thailand and the earthquake and massive tsunami in Japan.

About 800 people including government officials, policy makers, business leaders, economists and civil society reps from 50 countries around the world are here to try to boost adaptation to climate change and extreme weather.