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The Human Face of Climate Change

Investing in Human Capital for a Greener Future
Global thought leaders came together to champion investments in people to build resilience, help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, and accelerate the green transition.

Climate change is eroding human capital at all stages of life, keeping people everywhere from achieving their potential. Without concerted action, the threats from climate change can have long-term impacts on human capital, undoing decades of human development gains. The World Bank is supporting countries to invest in the human capital of their populations, including women and the vulnerable, so that they can better cope with and adapt to a changing climate and have the skills and abilities to meet the demands of the green economy.

World Bank Group Spring Meetings 2023

At the 2023 Spring Meetings of the World Bank Group and IMF, over 40 Ministers of Finance and Planning from Human Capital Project Network countries gathered to discuss investing in human capital for better climate outcomes.  A public event followed

The discussions emphasized that, with proper investment, people do not have to be passive victims of climate change. The human cost of climate change is difficult to quantify but has broad and long-lasting impacts. Indeed, education is the greatest predicator of climate-friendly behavior

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COP27 | November 2022

This human face of climate change was on full display at COP27. Multiple World Bank events emphasized the threat climate change poses to human capital—especially for the poorest and most vulnerable—but also the power of people, and investing in people, to build resilience and drive adaptation for a more hopeful future.

To learn more about World Bank Group’s projects, tools, approaches and solutions on climate, and the full program of events at COP27 see here. Follow the conversation with #ClimateActionWBG.

See the key takeaways and watch replays of the events below.

The Human Face of Climate Change event (November 8, 2022)

  • Climate change is eroding human capital – hitting the poor and vulnerable hardest.  But people are not passive victims. It is people who will drive the necessary innovations and adaptations to alleviate the impacts of climate change everywhere.
  • Building climate resiliency is critical, especially for countries in the crosshairs of climate change. This requires investing in people.
  • Adaptation and mitigation can create opportunities and growth. The transition must be just, and investments in human capital are necessary for a just transition.

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Harnessing Education for Effective Climate Action event (November 10, 2022)

  • Education is the strongest predictor of climate change awareness.
  • Young people and children are fully empowered stakeholders in building climate resilience and creating a greener future. Young people are already effecting change and providing hope.
  • Investing in climate education is key to driving climate action.

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Just Transition Away from Coal event (November 11, 2022)

  • A just transition is one that works for the people, where fossil fuels are replaced with reliable renewable energy and alternative opportunities are offered for those negatively impacted.
  • Long-term transition plans are needed—not just for industry but for all people whose lives and livelihoods will be affected. Financing, sequencing and participation by all stakeholders are important. Plans must be attuned to local context.
  • Robust debate, transparency, strong communication and the ability to course correct are important for building trust and success of a just transition.

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Why Adaptive Social Protection is Key to Climate Resilience and Food Security (November 12, 2022)

  • Putting people at the center of climate action is key to mitigate the worst impacts of climate shocks and the negative impacts of climate policy. It also empowers people to drive the change toward a green transition.
  • Without investments in people, climate change will accelerate global poverty, exacerbate inequalities and jeopardize the successful rollout of climate policies.
  • While social protection has not been part of the traditional climate dialogue, adaptive social protection is an important tool when addressing climate change. It is important to climate adaptation, decarbonatization and resilience.

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Women and Girls are Key to Climate Action event (November 14, 2022)

  • Having women at the table is not a nice to have, it’s a must have. It’s about justice and fairness. Women are at the forefront of suffering from climate change, but they are also the leaders of making climate change work happen.
  • Women not only are often the leaders in their communities, but also leaders in the industries that are transitioning regions away from fossil fuels towards a cleaner energy future.
  • Transitioning is all about stakeholder engagement and having women and men at the table. This means thinking of industrial policies and HR policies to make deliberate choices to get women at the table and get women into leadership positions.

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Evidence to Action: Responding to Climate-Related Health Risks event (November 17, 2022)

  • The changing climate has negative health impacts on people and puts a burden on the health sector, so countries should invest in mitigating these impacts on people’s health and building climate resilient and climate friendly health systems.
  • Financing can be a challenge but countries should create the fiscal space to prepare for the increasing impact the climate will have on health.
  • Climate vulnerable countries like Egypt, Malawi and Bangladesh are taking steps to protect their people and make health systems more resilient, including by greening the health sector (Egypt), strengthening disease outbreak early warning systems (Malawi) and empowering women (Bangladesh), among others.

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Watch: Alberto Rodriguez, Director of Operations and Strategy, Human Development on why people are at the heart of the World Bank’s climate agenda