Switzerland Steps Up Cooperation on Climate Change Adaptation

Press release, 20.02.2019

On February 19th, Switzerland, acting through the SDC, Green Climate Fund (GCF) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) announced a new joint programme to boost climate action. A seven-year, USD 70 million programme aims to protect over 1.7 million people, i.e. 40% of local population, from floods, droughts and other hazards by ensuring adequate response to climatic change.

Swiss ambassador addresses the audience
Ambassador Patric Franzen highlights the importance of increasing climate action in his welcome speech ©Embassy of Switzerland in Georgia

Climate change poses a profound threat to people and economic development the world over. The South Caucasus region is no exception. Due to the complex mountainous terrain and harsh climate, the region had to deal with various natural hazards and to develop new practices and livelihoods to adapt to changing environments. Recent national and international studies suggest that hazards will increase in frequency, intensity and geographical spread in future. Action now could reduce climate-related losses by 90 percent, experts say.

“This new initiative marks a transformational shift in our approach to climate hazards. It will directly benefit 1.7 million people living in the basins of Georgia’s 11 biggest rivers,” said Levan Davitashvili, Minister of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia. “Instead of responding to disasters that have already happened, we will proactively analyse the risks and set up early warning systems to protect people and livelihoods.”

The programme consists of two complementary projects funded by the GCF (USD 27 million) and the SDC (USD 5 million). The SDC-funded project aims to prepare the population for inevitable consequences of climatic change and to foster regional cooperation in the South Caucasus. Switzerland will bring to the project its best expertise and including from its own collective experience, as well as lessons learnt accrued during the project’s inception phase as well as from earlier interventions of the Swiss humanitarian office.

the representatives of the Government, UNDP, Switzerland sit in the panel
The Georgian Prime Minister welcomes the initiation of the project and assures the Government's support in its implementation. ©Embassy of Switzerland in Georgia

At the event, Switzerland was represented by Ambassador to Georgia Patric Franzen, who spoke about the importance Switzerland attaches to this partnership, given the genuine interest of the two mountainous countries to join efforts for the promotion of climate change adaptation and sustainable mountain development. 

“Both Georgia and Switzerland are mountainous countries and, as such, can be severely affected by climate change. Adaptation to climatic change is of vital importance, as it will aid local people to deal with impacts. These efforts, however, need to be supported by relevant policies. To this end, the goal is to share knowledge and experiences and to translate them into effective policies and concrete actions,” the Ambassador pinpointed.

In the opening speeches, the Prime Minister of Georgia and Head of UNDP in Georgia underlined the importance of the programme for Georgia and the South Caucasus Region labelling the climate challenge as the greatest challenge of our time. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Environment thanked the Government of Switzerland and the GCF for co-financing the programme, as well as all partners and stakeholders united to combat climate change.

The 7-year programme will be implemented by the UNDP and the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture in close partnership with other Government agencies.