Dr. Juan José Daboub, Founding CEO of the Global Adaptation Institute (GAIN), opens his presentation “Human Development Issues in Atlantic Basin Countries”.
Adaptation was an important topic of discussion during the Atlantic Basin Initiative conference at Johns Hopkins University-School of Advanced International Studies on September 13. Following a panel that included the participation of former President of Spain José María Aznar, Dr. Juan José Daboub, Founding CEO of the Global Adaptation Institute (GAIN), shared GAIN’s vision on the importance of building resilience in a changing world where the most vulnerable populations often bear the biggest challenges.
Health, education, food, energy and more are impacted by the intensity and increasing frequency of natural disasters, climate change, population shifts and urbanization. Simple statistics are a testament to the need for investment in adaptation.
By the numbers:
1.7 million deaths annually are caused by unsafe water.
2 physicians are present per 10,000 people in Africa, compared to 33 in Europe and 28 in the United States.
777 million people have limited access to food.
These statistics make it increasingly pressing on the global agenda. Dr. Daboub drew from his experiences as former Minister of Finance of El Salvador and Managing Director of the World Bank to address the fact that initiatives left solely in the hands of bureaucratic entities are neither the most efficient nor the most successful. He called for a more pragmatic approach that can pave the way toward human development, or, as he called it, “the condition that allows people to take their destinies into their own hands.”
Between $30 to $100 billion USD is needed in order for countries to adapt in the face of these global challenges. This can be approached pragmatically by focusing on increasing participation from the private sector through investments in adaptation.
Dr. Daboub said that the Atlantic Basin Initiative could play a key role by raising awareness on the risks faced by greater than half of the people in the Atlantic Basin, concretely in health access, water conditions and food distribution. Tackling these issues in a pragmatic way could help improve the countries’ readiness and reduce the vulnerability of those with fewer economic resources.
GAIN released its first GAIN Index in 2011 and the second version will be unveiled at Princeton University on October 15. It was designed as a navigation tool to help the private sector manage risk and plan investments in adaptation.
Dr. Daboub emphasized the need to measure countries’ vulnerability and readiness as a first step to building more resilient societies. The GAIN Index Country Rankings incentivize countries to rise to the top of the list by implementing policies that encourage innovation and reductions in vulnerability. In the Atlantic Basin region, North America and Europe are better prepared to adapt to global challenges. Much of Latin America lies in the middle of the ranking – many vulnerabilities in the sectors such as health and energy have been reduced, however, readiness indicators (corruption, investment freedom) remain a weak spot. Sub-Saharan Africa has significant challenges to overcome, particularly in the provision of health and food.
The GAIN Index can show success stories year-over-year of improvements in the readiness component, such as those of Botswana, Namibia and Rwanda, while underlining the importance of accelerating readiness and moving forward with the implementation of adaptation initiatives. For more about GAIN’s work, visit GAIN.org.
Dr. Daboub, right, stands with SAIS Visiting Fellows (from left) Nicole De Paula and Pinar Ipek.