Every week there is a disaster related to climate change, although most of them receive little attention from the international community, the UN says.
Recent disasters such as Mozambique's cyclones Idai and Kenneth made global headlines, but there are many "lower-impact events" that cause death and displacement, Mami Mizutori, the UN Secretary General's special representative on disaster risk reduction, told The Guardian.
Ms Mizutori said that adapting to the climate crisis could no longer be seen as a long-term problem but one that needed immediate investment.
Climate change-related catastrophes are estimated to cost $520 billion a year – almost two trillion dirhams – and force about 26 million people into poverty each year, the World Bank says.
Ms Mizutori said not enough had been invested in infrastructure that could withstand the effects of global warming.
“Resilience needs to become a commodity that people will pay for,” she said.
“We talk about a climate emergency and a climate crisis, but if we cannot confront this we will not survive. We need to look at the risks of not investing in resilience.”
To battle harm from climate change, people have planted more trees and used mangroves, forests and wetlands to avoid flooding and restore the health of ecosystems.
A study published this month found that if an area the size of the US was covered in trees, the greenery could remove two thirds of all man-made carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. But such nature-based solutions are not properly funded.
Experts are still trying to address how to protect people in communities particularly vulnerable to climate change.