Nordic development ministers: More countries must increase their contribution to global climate finance

By Flemming Møller Mortensen, Dag Inge Ulstein and Per Olsson Fridh

This Op-Ed was originally published in Altinget and in Energy og Klima

To help the vulnerable out of climate-caused poverty, more countries must commit to an increased contribution to global climate finance. At the same time, developing countries must increase their climate adaptation.

H ere in the Nordics, summer is on its way, and the vaccination programs are well underway. We are in control of the corona infection. But the corona pandemic is far from over. Especially in the poor and fragile countries of the world, the situation is difficult.

The pandemic challenges the already very weak health systems, while the climate crisis in many places undermines the foundations of agriculture. Together, it puts society under massive pressure. In 2020, according to the UN, for the first time in decades, the world experienced an increase in global poverty.

With our strong economies, efficient governments and solid health systems, we here in the Nordic region have a completely different resilience when crises strike. That is why we also believe that our countries have a special obligation to developing countries that are under pressure. Creating more equitable and sustainable development requires a long-term effort. Therefore, Denmark, Norway and Sweden are among the five countries in the world that for decades have consistently lived up to the UN’s goal of the level of development aid. We must continue to do so. At the same time, we must adapt our efforts to new challenges. This applies not least to the growing climate challenge.

In the autumn, COP26 will be held in Glasgow. Denmark, Norway and Sweden are ambitious, and we are working purposefully for progress in the climate negotiations. In our part of the world, we talk mostly about the importance of green transition to reduce world emissions. This is a very important task that we absolutely must undertake. But for developing countries, increased ambition for climate adaptation is a cardinal point of success in Glasgow.

Corona has sent millions into poverty

In the Nordic countries, we have a long and proud tradition of humanity and inter-ethnic co-operation.
The UN’s first sustainability goal is about eradicating poverty. It is a key goal in the development policy of all three countries. The world has made progress, but it is slow.

With the already serious consequences of climate change, it risks going much slower. The countries of southern Africa, for example, experienced prolonged periods of drought in 2016 – as a consequence, more than 30 percent of the population was affected by food insecurity.

In 2018, hurricanes ravaged Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi – more than three million people were affected and infrastructure damage was estimated at about two billion USD. For Africa, the cost of climate change, which is already running at least seven billion USD, is estimated.

In addition, the UN estimates that the corona pandemic in 2020 alone pushed more than 70 million people into extreme poverty. The solution is not to choose between competing priorities, but to work with well-thought-out efforts that focus on several fronts at once.

Three ambitious climate goals

Climate change risks displacing more than 143 million people by 2050. It is the poorest and most vulnerable populations in developing countries that are hardest hit. Because they are already vulnerable and have the least to resist. That is why developing countries are demanding increased climate finance to repair the damage that the climate crisis is already causing.

Against this background, the issue of climate finance is central to the negotiations leading up to Glasgow. We are at the forefront of increased efforts for climate adaptation. It is to be welcomed that the UN Secretary-General has also called for 50% of our climate efforts to go to climate adaptation. We build on the strong Nordic tradition with people in focus through ownership, poverty reduction and strengthened resilience. In order to have an impact, it is also important that developing countries prioritize climate adaptation in their own national budget processes.

As development ministers in three climate-ambitious, Nordic countries, we will play a special role and shape the international agenda, both towards COP26 and after Glasgow.

That is why we are jointly involved in the advisory board of the Global Center on Adaptation. Here we will work for many more countries to commit to increasing their contribution to global climate finance – and a growing share of it for adaptation. At the same time, we will focus on delivering concrete results for the benefit of society and people, with gender equality, young people and employment at the center. It is especially important on the world’s poorest continent, Africa. Both in the countryside and in the cities.

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