The Government of Georgia today launched a seven-year, USD 70 million programme aimed at protecting the public from the natural disasters that can be triggered by the extreme weather events caused by climate change. Funded by the Green Climate Fund (USD 27 million), the Swiss Government (USD 5 million) and the Government of Georgia (USD 38 million), the initiative will be implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture in close partnership with other Government agencies.
The programme was officially set in motion on 19 February 2019 by the Prime Minister of Georgia, Mamuka Bakhtadze, who noted that the climate adaptation programme marks a transformational shift in Georgia’s approach to climate hazards.
“This new initiative 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.”
“Georgia has already experienced first-hand the destructive impact of climate change,” said Louisa Vinton, UNDP Head in Georgia. “While we cannot control the weather, there is nothing inevitable about natural disasters. Our new program gives us the resources we need to enact policies, create systems, prepare communities and build infrastructure to prevent extreme weather events from turning into disasters.”
Ambassador of Switzerland to Georgia Patric Franzen underlined the importance Switzerland attaches to this partnership, given the genuine interest of the two mountainous countries to join efforts for 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 of Switzerland pinpointed.
If preventive measures are not taken now, climate change will cost Georgia as much as USD 12 billion over the coming decade, experts say. Action now could reduce climate-related losses by 90 percent.
The new programme will contribute directly to Georgia’s progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, by reducing the impact of climate change (Global Goal #13), helping to build more resilient cities (Goal #11) and protecting the livelihoods of thousands of people, particularly vulnerable communities in risk-prone urban and remote mountainous areas (Global Goals #1, 2 and 10).