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FEATURE STORY September 10, 2019

It’s Time to #AdaptOurWorld

This story is part of a month-long series focusing on adaptation and resilience. Around the world, climate change is already impacting lives and livelihoods, especially in the world’s poorest countries. The World Bank Group is committed to boosting support for adaptation and resilience, including through its first-of-a-kind Action Plan on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience.


  • Climate impacts are affecting all regions of the world and cut across all sectors of society. The greatest impact, however, is falling on the poorest and most vulnerable.
  • The costs of climate change on people and economies are clear. At the same time, adaptation actions could be some of the most cost-effective investments a country, city, or company can make.
  • The flagship report of the Global Commission on Adaptation, Adapt Now: A Global Call for Leadership on Climate Resilience, launched on September 10, 2019, highlighting the economic and moral case for concerted action on adaptation and calling for greater action to deliver a stronger, safer, and thriving world.

"Climate change threatens homes, lives and livelihoods everywhere, but it is the poorest who are often hit hardest because they lack the resources to cope. Without urgent action to respond to the ravages of climate change, millions more people could be plunged into poverty. The World Bank is increasing investment in adaptation because the evidence shows that resilient buildings, infrastructure and public services are good for communities, business and the sustained growth of the entire economy."
Axel van Trotsenburg
Acting CEO of the World Bank

The Challenge

Around the world, individuals, communities and countries are already facing the impacts of a changing climate. These often fall disproportionately on the poorest and most vulnerable, risking hard-won development gains. For instance:

Between 1995-2015, weather-related disasters claimed over 600,000 lives, and left 4.1 billion people injured, homeless, or in need of emergency assistance.

In low and middle-income countries, infrastructure disruptions already costs households and businesses US$391–$647 billion per year, much of it from extreme weather events.

With each passing year, the risks of unabated climate change are mounting.

500 million people working on small farms, mainly in developing countries, are exposed to changes in temperature and precipitation.

Rising seas and greater storm surges could force hundreds of millions of people from their homes in coastal cities, with a total cost to coastal urban areas of more than $1 trillion each year by 2050.


Adaptation, Done Right, is a Triple Dividend

Done well, adaptation generates significant additional economic, social, and environmental benefits. It can help avoid economic and material losses, protect people against life-altering shocks; it reduces risks and promotes more investment; and it promotes new approaches and technologies.

Major new research released today highlights the economic case: the overall rate of return on investments in resilience is very high, with benefit-cost ratios ranging from 2:1 to 10:1, and even higher in some cases. Investing $1.8 trillion in five sectors from 2020 to 2030 could generate up to $7.1 trillion; these five sectors are: early warning systems, climate-resilient infrastructure, improved dryland agriculture, mangrove protection, and investments in making water resources more resilient.


The World Bank Group is Boosting Effort on Adaptation

Earlier this year, the World Bank Group launched the Action Plan on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience. Under the plan the World Bank Group will ramp up direct adaptation finance to reach $50 billion over the 2021–2025 period.

Through this dedicated action plan – the first of its kind – the World Bank Group is making adaptation and resilience a key priority that will elevate it to an equal footing with climate mitigation actions.

The Action Plan builds on the link between adaptation and development by promoting effective and early actions that also provide positive development outcomes. Adaptation and development are inextricably linked and reciprocal: good adaptation can deliver good development outcomes, and securing good development requires effective adaptation action.



To highlight the urgent need to prepare communities for future climate shocks and the Bank Group’s ongoing efforts on this critical issue, we will be running a month-long series of content on adaptation and resilience.

The series kicked off on Tuesday, September 10, 2019 with the DC launch event of Adapt Now: A Global Call for Leadership on Climate Resilience. The flagship report of the Global Commission on Adaptation, led by the 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon and co-chaired by Bill Gates and Kristalina Georgieva, the Global Commission seeks to engage communities, cities and countries to proactively prepare for the disruptive effects of climate change with urgency, fierce determination and foresight, so they can take advantage of the best, most cost-effective options, reduce risk and come out stronger.

Watch the replay of the event to learn more about the report and the future of adaptation actions from Axel van Trotsenburg, acting CEO of the World Bank; Laura Tuck, World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development; Ceyla Pazarbasioglu, World Bank Vice President for Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions, Andrew Steer, President and CEO of World Resources Institute; and others.

And find out more over the next month about how communities are responding and adapting to climate impacts featuring the work of different teams and regions across the Bank. What is the link between flood risk and poverty in Dar es Salaam? How is Africa’s commitment to building a climate-resilient, low carbon future reaping major dividends?

Find answer to these questions and more and be part of “adaptation month”. Follow the series of stories and join the conversation on @WBG_Climate using the hashtag #AdaptOurWorld.