Ominous signs abound: quickly-melting glaciers, strengthening storms, struggling wildlife, flooded communities.

With climate scientists earlier this month predicting catastrophic impacts from global warming more quickly than expected, UMD’s School of Public Policy and two of its faculty members are assuming roles as key partners in a new effort to quickly identify and implement strategies to adapt.

The Global Commission on Adaptation, overseen by former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Co-chair Bill Gates and World Bank Group CEO Kristalina Georgieva, is bringing together 17 countries and 28 commissioners representing all sectors of development and industry to focus on curtailing the effects of a warming planet.

The School of Public Policy will serve as a research partner, with Professor Anand Patwardhan leading the U.S. research and analytical work for the commission, and Rosina Bierbaum, Roy F. Weston Chair of Natural Economics, as a senior advisor.

An alarming report released this month by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned of dire consequences for hundreds of millions of people if carbon emissions are not cut in half by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.

“We are experiencing the impacts of a changing climate today, and these impacts are projected to increase. The Global Commission is a much needed effort to catalyze real adaptation action and investment, bringing together the experts and decision-makers we need to chart the right path forward,” said Robert C. Orr, dean of the School of Public Policy.

The commission will release a flagship research report in September 2019, and outline how to manage risks ranging from floods and droughts to sea-level rise and storms. The commission will then facilitate a “Year of Action” to implement recommendations.

“Without urgent adaptation action, we risk undermining food, energy and water security for decades to come,” Ban said. “Continued economic growth and reductions in global poverty are possible despite these daunting challenges—but only if societies invest much more in adaptation.”