Investments in climate resilience a win-win for poor, businesses and American jobs

By Oxfam

Washington, D.C.  Global investments in climate change resilience could spur US jobs and economic opportunities, said business leaders, investors, and members of Congress at a gathering today sponsored by international humanitarian organization Oxfam America in partnership with Business for Innovative  Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP), Calvert Investments, and the Business Council for Global Development.  Participants urged US policymakers and negotiators heading to the UN climate change negotiations to prioritize the creation of a Global Climate Fund that can help spur investments and create jobs in the US and save lives and communities from climate change impacts at home and abroad.

The high-level roundtable discussion featured leaders from major US companies and small businesses who are creating jobs in partnership with communities in the US and developing countries as they adapt to a changing climate.  A new Oxfam report released at the event shows that approximately 2 million Americans already work in industries that support building climate resilience.  The report also shows that strong climate change adaptation policies could create jobs in the US and spur significant economic growth while reducing security challenges and costs down the road.

“The significant growth in demand over the coming decades will challenge farmers and those linked to the land to produce more while using less of the world’s water, land, and other resources,” said Taylor Davis Senior Counsel for John Deere.  “We believe that strengthening resilience to climate change can be accomplished by working closely with customers in developing countries and elsewhere.  Technologies and solutions in agriculture, forestry, construction and turf all have a role to play in helping address the potential impact of climate change on local ecosystems, infrastructure and economies.”

“Climate risk is the driver of substantial economic concerns for farmers, businesses and communities,” said Mark Way, Senior Vice President of Sustainability & Emerging Risk Management for Swiss Re. “Preparing for and managing these risks are the only short term measures available to significantly reduce the vulnerability to natural catastrophes of populations around the globe and will offer new tools to address ongoing challenges like hunger and poverty. The public and private sectors have the opportunity to make smart decisions which can turn this crisis into a situation that benefits everyone from small farmers to workers in America.”

Even with aggressive efforts to reduce emissions today, the consequences of climate change will be severe for many businesses and people around the world.  Speakers at the event highlighted major risks to American business supply chains already resulting from climate variability. 

“From failed crops to dwindling water reserves, climate change will pose a significant and direct business threat to the supply chains of major American companies,” said Amy Leonard Senior Vice President for Product Development at Levi Strauss & Co. “We must invest now to address these climate change challenges not just because it’s the right thing to do for communities, but also because it’s critical to our long term business interests.”

“Being in a business that relies on healthy agricultural systems to produce a high-quality product, we view climate change as a critical issue,” said Ben Packard, Starbucks Vice President of Global Responsibility. “We’re increasingly concerned about shifts in rainfall and harvest patterns that are impacting farmers in coffee regions around the world. Now is the time to invest in adaptation strategies that will support the economy and help local communities thrive.”

Several members of Congress in attendance addressed key priorities for US negotiators heading to Cancun for the UN Climate negotiations including the creation of a global climate fund.  Progress on a fair and accessible global climate fund is seen as a top priority to build momentum for a broader agreement in 2011.

To read the report, click here.

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