Why Greece needs access to global funding for climate adaptation

In the series of articles by our Youth Newsroom reporters, Christos Tsagkaris reports on the situation in his homeland Greece.

On January 25th, 2021, Antonio Gutierez, the secretary general of the United Nations addressed the Climate Adaptation Summit (CAS) 2021. Ιn a sub-session dedicated to political leaders and their own views and commitment on climate adaptation, Gutierez elaborated on the need to allocate funding to developing countries in order to ensure the continuation of work on climate adaptation there. He urged international funding bodies and governments of developed countries to allocate up to 50% of their climate related funding to low and middle income countries (LMICs).

CAS Talks

Developing countries are indeed struggling with climate adaptation and have minimal or even no means to tackle its implications, let alone invest in resilient infrastructure. These implications, including wildfires, floods and  droughts pose a significant risk to the health and welfare of the citizens and the productive infrastructure of the countries.

However, developed countries that have been afflicted by pervasive economic crises may also need more funding. This includes, among other south European countries,Greece. A country that suffered from the implications of the financial crisis for a long time from 2009 onwards. During this period,Greece’s finances were mostly under the control of the international monetary fund and a significant portion of the country’s income would be directed to paying the debts back.

Recently, a couple of severe incidents highlighted the arrival of climate adaptation in Greece and the need for strong policymaking and infrastructure modifications to tackle it.

In 2017, a massive flood occurred in Mandra - Nea Peramos, a district of Attiki, close to the capital city of Athens. Many households that were built over a dry river were destroyed.  Critics suggested that manipulating the environment in the previous years has backfired

Later on, in 2018, fire ensued in Mati, Attiki, andmore than 100 people lost their lives. many households and properties were destroyed. The cause of the fire is still unknown and despite the ongoing debate regarding the responsibility of the local and national authorities, it has become clear that action should be taken to avoid similar natural disasters in the future (4).

Overall, strict financial policies in Greece have decreased the state and private funds directed to sustainable development, mitigation, and adaptation to climate change. With an eye on the recent natural disasters and the emerging evidence on climate adaptation, it is high time to allocate a quota of the global funding for climate adaptation to Greece and other countries affected by the financial crisis.

Christos Tsagkaris