The long and tenuous road of Adaptation

 

 

This article is written by Sofia Kabbej.

Adaptation and mitigation are two fundamental concepts in the climate change debate. While they both appear as solutions to climate change, there is one main difference between the two : the objective that they each pursue. Mitigation focuses on the causes of climate change, adaptation on the other hand addresses the impacts of climate change.

For a long time mitigation has been prioritized and little attention was dedicated to adaptation or the actions of developing countries to cope with the impacts of climate change. The historical Paris Agreement (PA) took a significant step forward by placing adaptation on par with mitigation and including a Global Goal on Adaptation (which remains to be defined by Parties) alongside the goal on mitigation.

Adaptation during SB46

Adaptation is linked to other issues such as disaster risk-reduction, capacity-building, loss and damage, communication and finance. Let’s see which advancements have been made on those matters during the SB46.

Adaptation communication : agenda item 4 of the Ad hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA)

The APA has the responsibility to develop further guidance in relation to the adaptation communication, including, inter alia, as a component of nationally determined contributions. During SB46, Parties met during a serie of informal consultations to discuss and (try to) agree upon the purpose, elements, linkages, vehicle, and flexibilities of adaptation communication. On those matters, very little progress was made, despite the many meetings. During the YOUNGO press conference, we saluted the proposals made by the G77 and China as well as the European Union on the purpose and elements of adaptation communication as well as a possible “skeleton” outline. But there is still a lot to do.

Adaptation Finance : agenda item 8 of the APA

A lot of attention was focused on the future of the Adaptation Fund (AF). The AF is relatively small and was created as part of the Kyoto Protocol (KP), in 2001. A year after the adoption of the PA, in Marrakesh, Parties agreed that the AF should serve the PA. One area of contention was thus to decide how to realize this transition from the KP to the PA, and address the governance, institutional arrangements, safeguards and operating modalities for the fund to serve the PA.

During the SBSTA negotiations, Parties to the CMA (governance body of the PA) recognised that both the CMP (governance body of the KP) and CMA were legitimate in the decision process of the AF. Yet, delegates left Bonn only with an informal paper “that sets out the different options and the Secretariat’s legal analysis of some of the key questions’. For many developing countries, discussions on this matter went too slow.

During the closing plenary of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) on May 18th, the Philippines, on behalf of the G77 and China, asked the Chair to include an amendment to increase and ease access to adaptation finance in order for them “to meet their commitments under the PA”. This demand was supported by other developing countries such as Indonesia, Iran, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Yet, due to the firm opposition of the United-States, the Chair only agreed to include the Philippines’ oral demand in the draft conclusions of the APA. COP24, in Poland, should mark the institutionalisation of the CMA’s integration to the governance of the fund.

Technical Expert Meeting on Adaptation organized by the Adaptation Committee

This technical examination process was a two day event and focused on linking adaptation planning and implementation with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). On the first day, Mr Tom De Groeve from the European Commission set the scene with experts on the topics of adaptation, SDGs and DRR. Participants were then asked to choose a break-out group on either resilient societies, resilient economies or resilient ecosystems..

The second day focused on National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) as a framework for creating links with the SDGs and the Sendai Framework. The NAPs process helps countries identify their medium- and long-term adaptation needs and developing and implementing strategies and programmes to address those needs.

During this two-day process, all participants, including those from civil society, had the chance to exchange views, ideas and best-practices on adaptation planning and implementation. Most of the participants were from the Least Developed Countries as well as from Small Island Developing States (SIDS). On the other hand, the private sector was largely under-represented. The outcomes of this meeting will be added to the annual technical paper which will serve as an input for the next COP 23, organized by Fiji, in Bonn.

Conclusion

It is a fact, there is still a lot of work to do regarding adaptation and its various aspects. In addition to agree on adaptation communication and the future of adaptation finance, Parties still have to define the Global Goal on Adaptation. COP 23, will be the first ever COP hosted by a SIDS. Those countries, including Fiji, are extremely vulnerable to climate change impacts such as extreme weather events, floods and sea-level rise. As the Climate Champion Inia Seruiratu said during the TEP-A : “for some country adaptation is now the only option”.

About the author : Sofia Kabbej has a background in political-science and sustainable development. She is the Project Coach of the Negotiation Tracking project within Cli’Mates and very passionate about ACE and gender issues.

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