The Adaptive Age

Author:Kristalina Georgieva
Position:KRISTALINA GEORGIEVA is managing director of the IMF.

No institution or individual can stand on the sidelines in the fight against climate change

20 FINANCE & DEVELOPMENT | December 2019
WHEN I THINK of the incredible challenges we must
confront in the face of a changi ng climate, my
mind focuses on young people. Eventually, they
will be the ones either to enjoy the fruits or bea r
the burdens resulting from act ions taken today.
I think of my 9-year-old granddaug hter. By the
time she turns 20, she may be witness to climate
change so profound that it pushes an add itional 100
million people into poverty. By the time she turns
40, 140 million may become climate migra nts—
people forced to ee homes that are no longer safe
or able to provide them with livelihoods. And if
she lives to be 90, the planet may be 3 –4° hotter
and barely livable.
Unless we act. We can avoid this bleak futu re,
and we know what we have to do—reduce emis-
sions, oset what cannot be reduced, a nd adapt to
new climate realities. No ind ividual or institution
can stand on the sidelines.
Reality check
Our eorts to reduce greenhouse g as emissions
through various mitig ation measures—phasing out
fossil fuels, increa sing energy eciency, adopting
renewable energy sources, improving la nd use and
agricultural practices—continue to move forward,
but the pace is too slow. We have to scale up and
accelerate the transition to a low-car bon economy.
At the same time, we must recogn ize that climate
change is alre ady happening and aecting t he lives
of millions of people. ere are more frequent and
more severe weather-related events—more d roughts,
more oods, more heat waves, more storms.
Ready or not, we are entering an age of adapta-
tion. And we need to be smart about it. Adaptat ion
is not a defeat, but rather a defense agai nst what
is already happening. e right investments will
deliver a “triple dividend” by averting futu re losses,
spurring e conomic gai ns through innovation,
and delivering social a nd environmental benets
to everyone, but particula rly to those currently
aected and most at ris k. Updated building codes
can ensure infr astructure and building s are better
able to withstand extreme events. M aking agricul-
ture more climate resilient means investing more
money in research and development, which in
turn opens the door to innovation, growth, a nd
healthier communities.
e IMF is stepping up its eorts to dea l with
climate risk. Our m ission is to help our members
build stronger economies and improve people’s
lives through sound moneta ry, scal, and structura l
policies. We consider climate change a system ic
risk to the macroeconomy and one in which the
IMF is deeply involved through its rese arch and
policy advice.
Mitigation plus adaptation
On the mitigation side of the equation, this mean s
intensifying our work on ca rbon pricing and help-
ing governments craft road map s as they navigate
their way from brown economies dependent on
carbon to green ones that strive to be c arbon free.
The Adaptive Age
No institution or individual can stand on the sidelines in the fight
against climate change
Kristalina Georgieva

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