Toespraak minister Harbers bij klimaatconferentie Caribische eilanden

Toespraak van minister Harbers (IenW) op 13 december 2022nbij een conferentie over klimaatadaptatie voor de Caribische eilanden. De toespraak is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.

Welcome, everybody, to this special conference for the Caribbean region. And thank you, Prime Minister Pisas, for your support in co-hosting this event.

I’d also like to give a special welcome to the representatives of other Caribbean islands that are keen to take action on climate adaptation and water management. I’m pleased to see you here and look forward to hearing your views and expectations.

This is the first conference of the new International Panel on Deltas and Coastal Areas – in short: IPDC.
The IPDC is an initiative of the Netherlands. Its purpose is to support delta countries and small islands with their climate adaptation plans and strategies.

I announced the IPDC at COP27 last month. A special occasion where adaptation pioneers met for the first time and underscored the urgency of climate adaption action.  

Why this initiative?

In short: we need more focus, more science-based solutions and stronger partnerships to protect the inhabitants of low-lying deltas and small islands. And most of all: we need concrete actions and realistic strategies.

Deltas, coastal regions and small islands are the most vulnerable to climate change. And that’s why the IPDC will be focusing its efforts especially on these regions.

We want to connect the worlds of science, technology, finance and politics. We need it all – political commitment as well as a strong scientific basis – to anchor the urgently required climate adaptation plans.

That urgency is undeniable.

  • The number of climate-related disasters has risen by 30 per cent in the past 10 years.
  • In 2020, some 50 million people were hit by droughts, floods and storms.  
  • 90 per cent of these natural disasters are related to water.
  • In all climate scenarios, the risks to deltas, coastal areas and small islands are high to very high. The Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) is updating the climate scenarios for the Caribbean Netherlands. You will hear more about this later today.

The challenges facing small islands are enormous. An aggregate of drought, fresh water scarcity, floods, storms and coastal erosion. With major impact on social, economic and ecological systems. They need to adapt in ways that are affordable, integrated and flexible.

No island can do this on its own. And they don’t have to. We can learn from each other, strengthen each other and share knowledge, solutions and funding with each other. That’s what the IPDC is all about.•    By their very nature, deltas and islands encourage connection and exchange, not just of goods, but also ideas. So let’s build on that.

It’s good to see steps are already being taken. For instance:

  • The climate roundtable being set up in Bonaire.
  • A stress test by the port authorities here in Curaçao.
  • And making drinking water production more sustainable in Aruba.

The Netherlands, too, is taking action. It’s a matter of survival. Consider the facts:

25 per cent of our country is located below sea level. 2/3 of our country is vulnerable to flooding – and this is where we earn around 70 per cent of our GDP.

So we’re implementing the National Delta Programme to improve flood defences, spatial planning, and freshwater retention and storage. We’ve also drawn up a National Climate Adaptation Strategy to give all our major sectors – from farming to healthcare – guidance in adapting to climate change.

We’ve learned many lessons that we’d like to share. The key one is that a sound climate adaptation plan, with medium- and long-term aims, is essential for effective action. That’s why the IPDC is committed to supporting the development of the National Adaptation Plans of the countries and island states in the Champions Group.

With a particular focus on countries and islands that are committed to drafting national adaptation plans that will set an example to the world. And that will ensure a sustainable future.

So I’m very pleased with the turnout today. You show that small islands in the Caribbean acknowledge the importance of making action plans, of joining forces and sharing knowledge.

So let’s start. And let’s aim for more countries and islands to join us in the IPDC.

We plan to flesh out this partnership initiative along 3 lines:

  • First, more tailormade knowledge: that’s why we’re actively engaging with scientific leads from all the countries involved.
  • Second, a customised, structural approach: that’s why we’re engaging with the National Adaptation Plan coordinators in each country. And why we’re collaborating with existing coalitions such as the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, the Global Water Partnership – Caribbean and the Local2030 Islands Network.
  • Third, feasible plans: that’s why we’re engaging with powerful financial institutions like the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the Green Climate Fund. Additionally, we want to connect with financial forums like the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action.

Our joint commitment is to officially launch the IPDC at the UN Water Conference in New York in March next year. Today we’re here to listen, and to discuss how the IPDC can support your efforts to become more climate resilient. What we want is commitment, decisiveness and fresh action. I look forward to working with you, to hearing your ideas and learning from your insights.

Thank you.