Ministerial Dialogue on Adaptation Action, 25 January 2021


Remarks by Angel Gurría,

Secretary-General, OECD

Paris, 25 January 2021

Excellencies, Ministers,

The COVID-19 crisis is a stark reminder of the consequences of neglecting global challenges. Climate change is perhaps the most severe one we face.

Climate action is our single most important intergenerational responsibility. And climate risks are increasing. Despite the economic downturn, the concentration of major greenhouse gases in the atmosphere continued to rise in 2020. The world is set to see its warmest five years on record. Extreme weather events are more and more destructive. The 2019-20 bushfires in Australia burnt up to 40 million hectares of land. And the 2017 hurricane season in the United States caused damages of over USD 245 billion.

2021 brings renewed hope for action, with several key international events such as the UN Biodiversity Summit (COP15) and the Climate Summit (COP26). Throughout 2020, more and more countries have committed to net-zero emission targets by mid-century, as well as reinforcing their Nationally Determined Contributions by 2030.

Achieving these commitments requires consistency between short-term action and long-term vision. Mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions must be complemented by measures to develop resilience across all sectors. COVID-19 recovery packages need to be green.

This summit, and the events preceding COP26, are opportunities to underline this adaptation imperative. I am encouraged by the emphasis that the UK, as incoming COP26 President, has placed on this issue. But political intention must translate into real action.

The OECD is mobilising its Members and partners as part of the Task Force on Climate Change Adaptation. We are focusing on countries’ progress in building national climate change adaptation policies and to accelerate implementation domestically, as well as in development co-operation and assistance.

The OECD collects evidence on climate action, producing targeted policy advice. This work will be stepped up by a new initiative: the International Programme for Action on Climate. Following the mandate received at the Ministerial Council Meeting in October 2020, the OECD is also working to build a dashboard of economic, social and environmental indicators to track the quality of growth. We also help countries design and implement green recovery plans.


The need for urgent climate action cannot be overstated. If we build resilience now, the impacts of climate risks will be acutely reduced.

The OECD welcomes the initiative by the Netherlands - the Global Center on Adaptation. I am very pleased that the GCA and the OECD are working on an MoU to help deepen the already good relationship between the two organisations.

We look forward to keep strengthening our collaboration, to bring governments together to set adaptation targets, engaging state and non-state actors to implement them.

Thank you.


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