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APEC Builds Resilience To Reduce Vulnerability To Climate Change Impacts

Natural catastrophes, most of which hit APEC economies, increase the risk of economic loss in the region as well as threaten the livelihoods of the most vulnerable populations.

APEC members through the Emergency Preparedness Working Group are strengthening their cooperation to enhance disaster prevention and risk reduction. They are also collaborating on climate change adaptation initiatives in vulnerable communities through the use of tools such as early warning and risk alert systems, as well as developing infrastructure for climate resiliency.

“Climate change is not only a challenge, but it is also an opportunity to do some institutional arrangements with a new vision for our economy,” said Juan Castro, Peru’s Minister of Environment, as he presented on Peru’s climate adaptation plan to APEC officials in Arequipa last week.

Minister Castro highlighted that in Peru’s case, water resources are the most impacted by climate change due to its direct link to food insecurity.

“Economic growth that we need today needs to have a resilient infrastructure. It needs to have different economic models,” said Minister Castro, adding that Peru requires around USD 80 billion of sustainable investments between 2024 and 2025 to support climate change reduction efforts.

“The impact of climate change is clear,” Minister Castro said, adding that “the highest tropical mountain range in Peru located in Ancash, known as the Cordillera Blanca or the white mountain range, has lost almost 40 percent of its glacier’s mass.”

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“Peru is moving towards a circular economy. We are leaving the linear economy model and moving towards a new economic model so we can have a more environmentally friendly transition,” Minister Castro added.

Victoria Salinas, Head of Resilience at the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), highlighted that in 2023, there were 114 disasters that required federal support in the United States, noting that that’s an average of one disaster every three days.

“Since disasters are becoming more frequent and intense, this unprecedented operational tempo may unfortunately become our new normal in 2024 and beyond, something we must tackle head on. The truth is, building resilience is critical to our survival,” said Salinas through her video remarks at the workshop.

Salinas added that disasters create economic instability and cascading impacts across regions, and it is imperative to continue to work together, exchange experiences, share ideas and resources that will strengthen capability and capacity at home and across APEC economies.

“We must keep relentlessly focused on operationalizing resilience, just like we have for disaster response and recovery,” added Salinas. “We can do this by sharing knowledge and best practices of frameworks, we can implement to protect our people and communities before, during and after disasters.”

Juan Narciso, an official with Peru’s Agency for Environmental Assessment and Enforcement, stressed that environmental monitoring plays an important role in identifying preventive actions that will contribute to the mitigation to the greenhouse gas emission. He added that members need to improve their capacity to identify and address the environmental risk associated with climate change and to promote innovative solutions that can protect our communities, especially the most vulnerable ones.

“It’s going to take strategic partnerships to build and sustain resilient communities for us and for future generations,” said Dr Kimberly D. Coleman, co-chair of the APEC Emergency Preparedness Working Group.

“We must consider partnerships with other APEC working groups as well as with private industry, as this can strengthen economy-to-economy collaboration to meet our shared goals,” Coleman concluded.

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