MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is establishing a new fund to slow the onset of climate change and to help the Asia-Pacific region adapt to the expected devastating impact of global warming.

ADB will provide an initial $40 million to the Climate Change Fund, which will be open for further contributions from countries, other development organizations, foundations, the private sector and other sources.

"The purpose of the fund is to facilitate greater investments in developing countries in Asia and the Pacific to address the causes and consequences of global warming. Money from the fund will be used to provide grant financing for technical assistance, investment projects, research and other activities, and we welcome interested parties to participate in the fund," said Mr. Werner Liepach, Principal Director of ADB's Office of Cofinancing Operations.

Mr. WooChong Um, Director of ADB's Energy, Transport and Water Division, said the Climate Change Fund expands the resources available to address global warming from only mitigation activities, such as clean energy and carbon financing, to a more holistic program that includes activities in mitigation and adaptation as well as financing projects.

"In addition to supporting transition to low-carbon economies and establishing climate resilient infrastructure, this fund will allow ADB to address the cross-cutting social vulnerability issues related to climate change such as changes in livelihood, resettlement, and health impacts," Mr. Um said.

Asia-Pacific is particularly vulnerable to climate change. Some 1.2 billion people could experience freshwater shortages by 2020, while crop yields in Central and South Asia could drop by half between now and 2050. Asia's major coastal cities, including Bangkok, Jakarta, Karachi, Manila, Mumbai, and Shanghai are vulnerable to flooding. Within this century, residents of Tuvalu, the Maldives and costal Bangladesh may become "climate refugees."

"Asian developing countries are now the fastest growing source of new greenhouse gas emissions and they will soon be the largest absolute source. This new fund will help us pool resources from around the world to invest here in Asia to help deal with this problem," Mr. Um said.

ADB has been working on climate change for well over a decade. It already provides countries with access to new investment financing mechanisms in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other low-carbon infrastructure. The new fund is part of efforts to increase its investments in helping countries adapt and avoid the negative consequences of climate change.