Toespraak van minister-president Rutte bij de start van de Global Commission on Adaptation in Den Haag

De toespraak is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.

Thank you, Minister van Nieuwenhuizen.  

Members of the Global Commission, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Allow me to add my own warm welcome to the Netherlands and to my hometown, The Hague. Perhaps there is no better place to launch accelerated action on climate adaptation than the Netherlands.

After all, much of this country lies well below sea level. When you landed at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, I'm sure most of you didn't realise that you were more than 4 metres below sea level.

But trust me: you were perfectly safe!

Throughout history, water management has been a matter of necessity for the Netherlands. The first Dutch water boards date back to the time when this Knight's Hall was built, in the 13th century. Even back then, people understood that water knows no borders. That working together to adapt to changing water levels was the only way to keep their feet dry. And that's still true today.

The success of our national adaptation policies lies in the fact that we're looking fifty or more years ahead. In 1953 the southwest of our country was hit by a storm surge in which more than 1,800 people lost their lives. Since then we have learned that adaptation should not be about addressing the previous disaster, but about preventing the next.

For us it's only logical that we should share our knowledge and know-how around the world. After Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, Dutch experts were flown into New Orleans and New York to advise on necessary measures.

We work with other delta countries like Indonesia and Bangladesh to prevent floods in the future. And with China we're working on research that will help us all better understand what it will take to make sure our dikes are future proof.

These are only a few examples of many, many more projects and initiatives.

The bottom line is this: even if we succeed in keeping global warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, the urgency of climate adaptation cannot be overstated. Sea levels will rise. More extreme periods of drought and rainfall will occur. There is no denying that the world needs to prepare itself.

The Netherlands stands ready to work with you and others towards a more resilient future for all. That's why we are proud to host and support the Global Center on Adaptation, led by Professor Patrick Verkooijen. And that's why we have joined with a vanguard of other countries to convene this unprecedented Global Commission on Adaptation. This forum will provide the opportunity to devise and pioneer better planning, smarter investment, and new technologies.

The array of expertise from across the globe in this room today is highly promising. And I salute Secretary-General Ban, Bill Gates, and Kristalina Georgieva for their personal commitment and their leadership, which will no doubt make the Commission's work a success. And succeed we must, because adaption isn't a choice. It's a necessity.

Thank you.