RESILIENCE AND CLIMATE CHANGE

Why resilience has come of age

We speak to the Global Resilience Partnership’s CEO Nathanial Matthews about the growing global focus on resilience, expectations and hopes for success at the COP26 summit, and GRP’s role in getting there

Story highlights

  • The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will be held in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November
  • The Global Resilience Partnership is the lead managing partner of the COP Resilience Hub
  • Nathanial Matthews is the CEO of the Global Resilience Partnership, whose secretariat is hosted by the Stockholm Resilience Centre

NO LONGER A LESSER SIBLING: Six years after the historic Paris Agreement, the 26th Conference of Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will be held in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November.

Many see this COP as the world’s last chance to keep warming below 1.5C, with one main goal: get closer to fulfilling promises that nations made six years ago at COP21 in Paris.

Pressure is growing for bolder action.

Part of that bold action is the centre-hosted Global Resilience Partnership (GRP),a partnership of more than 60 public and private organisations that have joined forces to surface and scale innovation, share knowledge, influence policy and advance thinking on resilience.

We speak to GRP’s CEO Nathanial Matthews about the growing global focus on resilience, expectations and hopes for success at this year’s summit, and GRP’s role in getting there.

GRP is coordinating the COP Resilience Hub. Why resilience and why now?

Resilience and adaptation have always been the lesser siblings of mitigation, but this year is different. The world is really waking up to the importance of building resilience in partnership with mitigation measures.

Our Resilience Hub will be the focal point for all resilience announcements and activities in Glasgow. This is the first time there has been such a hub at a COP and the interest from governments, the private sector and community leaders has been overwhelming.

It feels like resilience has come of age at a global level.

The Resilience Hub is also the home of the UNFCCC’s Race to Resilience. What is this and why should organisations join this initiative?

The Race to Resilience initiative puts people and nature first in pursuit of a resilient world where we don’t just survive climate shocks and stresses but thrive in spite of them. Non-state actor-led regional, national or global initiatives are invited to express their interest to join the Race to Resilience.

Many see this COP as the world’s last chance to keep warming by the end of the century below 1.5C. Do you agree?

It is certainly the last good chance. Humans have responded well in times of crisis in the past. We are certainly in a climate emergency now, so I hope everyone will step up, but the existing system is very difficult to change. We have seen over $19 trillion spent on Covid recovery, with arguably, very little of that making us more resilient to the next shock or stress.

The world’s poorest will be most impacted by climate change. We can’t afford to squander this opportunity.

Are the expectations around these COP meetings too high?

No. If expectations aren’t high then we will never come close to addressing the challenges ahead. We will not have a hundred plus heads of state, private sector and community leaders together like this again soon. Everyone attending knows or should know what is at stake.

We need ambitious action and we need it now.

How can the GRP contribute to a successful summit?

As the lead managing partner of the Resilience Hub we are driving action and investment into resilience to address climate change. We have focused the Hub on tangible announcements and activities and ensuring that the Hub is a window and voice elevator for those working on the ground. We have developed satellite hubs in Asia and Africa to bring partner voices meaningfully into the discussion. It is a huge responsibility, but we are rising to the challenge.

What is the most important outcome you want to see from the COP 26 summit?

First, that the negotiations are successful. Those will drive climate action on the ground and across the countries. Second, that the leaders attending will not shy away from the hard decisions. Third, resilience and adaptation are considered an essential partner to mitigation moving forward. Fourth, that locally led resilience and adaptation take centre stage.

Published: 2021-10-27