By Shazre Quamber-Hill, Director of Strategy and Impact, Resilience First

A year on from the announcement of the Sharm El-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda, Resilience First, together with Resilience Rising and the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) convened a high-level roundtable discussion on the critical role of private finance for advancing action on adaptation and resilience during COP28 in Dubai.

The Global Climate Action “Implementation Lab”, delivered in partnership with the Race to Resilience Campaign and the Marrakesh Partnership, explored current challenges and real-world innovative solutions being piloted by the private sector to mobilise capital for adaptation in alignment with the Sharm El-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda’s outcomes.

Dr. Mahmoud Mohieldin, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion from COP27, opened the discussion by acknowledging the positive progress in overall global climate financing but expressed concern about the growing gaps in adaptation funding, where private sector contributions form only a small proportion of overall climate finance. Whilst applauding the Loss & Damage Fund announced on the first day of the COP, as a key example of the catalytic power of collaboration and shared ambition, he emphasised the need for increased private sector involvement in the development of more comprehensive, ambitious and inclusive strategies to mobilise private capital for adaptation.

The roundtable discussion, expertly facilitated by Barbara Buchner (Climate Policy Initiative), Nat Keohane (C2ES) and Seth Schultz (Resilience First and Resilience Rising) invited participants to share their experience and insights on three key themes related to enabling private finance for adaptation: current strategies being adopted by the private sector for enhancing climate resilience; innovative financing approaches; and the role of cross-sectoral partnerships for scaling participation.

Corporate Climate Resilience Leadership

Seth Schultz, CEO of Resilience Rising, led the first discussion with senior representatives from Nestlé, WBCSD, Edison International, Resilience First, Resonance Global and PwC on corporate climate resilience. Building on Resilience First’s previous convenings on the same topic, participants shared the ongoing efforts by the private sector to strengthen the resilience of their value chains and the impacts of these pilots on local communities; from the use of regenerative agricultural practices to enhance global farmer livelihoods and protect food supplies and natural ecosystems, to the development of more robust climate adaptation and vulnerability assessments to strengthen the utilities infrastructure and accelerate investment in an inclusive and equitable clean energy transition. At the same time, the discussion recognised the varied levels of attention and investment from the private sector across industries and regions. Noting the challenges faced by businesses in categorising adaptation activity and its impact, participants highlighted the need for increased collaboration, common definitions, and practical tools for meaningful action on corporate climate resilience.

Innovative Financing and Fund Mobilisation

Barbara Buchner, Global Managing Director of Climate Policy Initiative, then set the scene for a conversation on financing mechanisms by sharing key insights from CPI’s latest annual report on the state of climate finance. Re-emphasising Dr. Mohieldin’s remarks on the adaptation financing gap, Barbara stressed the need to quickly and effectively scale pilot solutions. Comments from senior representatives from Marsh, Bank of America, BlackRock, UNDRR, Howden, and others focused on the need to review traditional investment models which currently do not effectively capture adaptation and resilience benefits. Participants agreed that better climate and financial data along with innovative tools and mechanisms will increase the incentives to invest in resilience solutions and are the key to mobilising capital at scale.

Partnerships for Scaling Participation

The final part of the discussion, led by Nat Keohane, explored the role of partnerships in creating enabling environments for adaptation finance. Representatives from the International Coalition for Sustainable Infrastructure, World Economic Forum, EdelGive Foundation, and BCG highlighted the often siloed, sector-specific nature of adaptation action, the particular challenges of adaptation funding in the global South and on a more positive note, the efforts currently underway to create spaces for knowledge sharing, dialogue and collaboration across regions and industries. Public-private partnerships and cross sectoral coalitions were shown to be playing a vital role in organising key stakeholders around shared agendas, developing common narratives and ensuring vulnerable and marginalised groups remain engaged in the conversation. Participants shared insights from upcoming reports such as the PREPARE partnership with the US Government and emphasised the importance of speed and scale, and philanthropy's role in driving adaptation efforts in the most vulnerable communities.

Conclusion: The Urgent Need for Action & Collaboration

The discussion emphasised the challenges faced by the private sector in making the case for resilience investment and the innovative solutions and financing approaches that are already demonstrating remarkable success in accelerating adaptation, protecting value chains and sustaining livelihoods whilst strengthening the global economy. It served as a clear call to action for businesses to advocate for a revision to traditional accounting approaches and how resilience is valued in investment decision making. Cross-sectoral collaboration and knowledge sharing, together with innovative financing approaches hold the key to unlocking private finance for adaptation.

Overall, the discussion highlighted the need for collaboration, innovation, and a collective effort from businesses, philanthropy, government, and other stakeholders to address the increasing gap between global adaptation needs and private finance.

This high-level ‘Implementation Lab’ took place on 3 December 2023, in the blue zone at COP28. You can watch the full session here: iLabs: Enabling Private Finance for Adaptation | UNFCCC

The event was one of a series of engagements for Resilience First at COP28, which also included:

  • A panel discussion with WBCSD, the World Economic Forum and Resonance Global on the Resiliency of People on December 2
  • A podcast hosted by the ICAEW on how the Just Transition supports the whole-systems approaches to resilience
  • A roundtable discussion, in collaboration with the Engineering Leadership Group (ELG) World Federation of Engineering Organizations (WFEO), Conservation International (CI) and Engineering Institute of Canada (EIC), featuring nature-driven engineering, policy, and finance solutions on December 5
  • A Private Roundtable discussion with key stakeholders to the climate resilience pathways initiative jointly convened by Resilience First, Resilience Rising and C2ES. Hosted by the Edison Electric Institute in the Blue Zone on December 5
  • A panel discussion organised by National Grid, focused on the importance of cross-disciplinary partnerships on December 6