Tag: adaptation

CAN Intervention in the COP18 SBI Opening Plenary, 27 November, 2012


CAN, YOUNGO and CJN! SBI Opening Plenary Intervention at COP18

Delivered by, David Gawith of YOUNGO, 27 November 2012

Thank you Chair, my name is David and I will be 60 years old in in 2050

Your task this week is a challenging one. The SBI is expected to complete its entire business this session by Saturday.  We stand ready to assist you in this task. Science is telling us that full and sustained implementation of the Convention's fundamental objective is slipping further and further from our grasp. This has disastrous implications for humanity and for its future, our future.

 Hurricane Sandy’s impacts in Haiti, Cuba, and the United States have reminded us that loss and damage is a reality. It’s happening now. Current low mitigation ambition is breaching the ultimate objective of the Convention. Opportunities for avoiding loss and damage are being wasted because of insufficient funding. We need to start thinking beyond adaptation. Based on the decision from Durban, we expect you to set up a comprehensive mechanism to address compensation and rehabilitation issues. Further, we expect you to develop the next phase of the work programme to detail the modalities of the mechanism. Almost 100 vulnerable developing countries have outlined the needs and potential elements of an international mechanism. Doha must not end without clear progress on addressing loss and damage.

On technology, for the Technology Mechanism to be considered "fully operational" at COP18 there must be a committed source of interim and long term funding for the Technology Executive Committee, the Climate Technology Centre and its Advisory Board. The architecture of the Technology Mechanism must also be highly responsive to developing Party clients in order to promote transparency and ensure equitable access to adaptation and mitigation technologies. Finally there must be robust engagement with stakeholders and civil society.
On Capacity Building, Parties should concentrate their work on paragraph 6 of 13/CP-17. By agreeing on an intensive 2 year work programme that creates an enhanced structure for effective capacity building in developing countries, by the end of 2014, the ground lost on capacity building could be regained here in Doha.

We hold you accountable for these outcomes.

 Thank you.

Adaptation Committee: Kick-off to adaptation leadership?

The Adaptation Committee has worked hard to prepare its ambitious three-year work plan, with only one meeting held in 2012. In order to be able to perform this necessary leadership role, ECO urges in particular developed country Parties to provide the necessary means for the work of the Adaptation Committee.

ECO welcomes that the Adaptation Committee plans to address the importance of understanding adaptation best practices and needs of local and indigenous communities. But there is one piece missing in the overall picture: The COP should recognise the value that the Adaptation Committee work may have for the ADP negotiations towards a 2015 legally-binding instrument. It can substantially inform the work of the ADP, so that the future agreement can help scale-up adaptation based on the needs identified.

ECO knows that civil society is willing to contribute to the Adaptation Committee's work, and encourages committee members to facilitate these inputs. A gap in the rules of procedure should be closed, namely webcasting meetings where possible. The Adaptation Fund is a good precedent in this regard. Last but not least, ECO is pressing the Adaptation Committee to act in a proactive manner by holding events, workshops, etc. on specific adaptation needs and responses. 

Related Newsletter : 

A Menu for the Adaptation Committee

Can COP 17 conclude with a fully fleshed out adaptation package? ECO has a few healthy ideas. A good place to start is the Adaptation Committee negotiated under the AWG-LCA.

The comprehensive draft decision text from Panama provides the basis. The AC should be operationalised and start its work as soon as possible, and it will help if Parties have nominations for members in Durban.

Parties should agree on a strong role for the AC under the guidance and authority of the COP, and allow it to report directly to the COP rather than only through the SBI. While consideration in the SBI could be productive, e.g. during the Bonn sessions when the COP does not meet, the SBI should not become the supervisory body of the AC.

The section on composition contains a proposal for two advisory members each from southern and northern civil society. It is not relevant which Parties made this proposal; rather we encourage delegates to look at the value of the meaningful engagement of civil society.

There is a wealth of supporting examples. For example, in the Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, civil society representatives are full board members with voting rights. For the Committee on Food Security in the FAO, there is a mechanism whereby CSO representatives from different constituencies (fisherfolk, farmers, herders, landless, etc.) are selected and have full access and the right to talk but not vote in the procedures of the Committee. Currently, there are four CSO members as well as some from the private sector.

Further, it would be beneficial to assure a developing country majority in the AC,including specific seats for LDCs and SIDS, as well as gender balance.

Finally, Parties should ensure that the AC can provide recommendations to other institutions, including those of the financial mechanism, thereby contributing to a more coherent approach to adaptation and widening the application of conclusions and experience gathered by the AC.

Related Newsletter : 

Adapting for Durban

ECO has noted that adaptation negotiators have worked seriously to make decent progress on the Adaptation Committee in the last days here in Panama. The time for adding new text suggestions should be over now. Parties should sort out differences, produce the negotiating text and leave only the political issues to be tackled in Durban.

COP 17 taking place on African soil is just seven weeks away and ECO is probably not the only one to note that adaptation is crucial for the African continent. Therefore insufficient progress on this issue would be an bad signal for Africa and the whole world. In no circumstances should adaptation be held hostage by other issues and used as a bargaining chip. The Durban conference must advance the implementation of the Cancun Adaptation Framework, which ECO acknowledges is not an easy task. In Durban, Parties need to finalize the modalities and guidelines of National Adaptation Plans; operationalize the Adaptation Committee; concretize the work programme on Loss and Damage and make specific decisions on activities for the next phase of the Nairobi Work Programme. ECO recommends that those few Parties that have for so long stalled and delayed the negotiations on adaptation change their behavior, otherwise they will be to blame for any failure of the adaptation track.

ECO hopes that parties will come to Durban prepared to reach an agreement on adaptation that will give Africa, the world’s poor and vulnerable peoples and communities and their ecosystems the much needed confidence to combat climate change.


Drought in Ethiopia Requires Financing From Developed Countries...Do It by Durban!

Mahlet Eyassu: what is needed on climate finance this year.

Photo Credit: Manjeet Dhakal

Mahlet Eyassu
Climate Change Program Manager
Forum for Environment

We are now in Panama, for the intersessional which is the last meeting before the Conference of the Parties (COP) in Durban. The 17th COP will be in Durban, South Africa, which make this a very important COP for Africa.  Africa along with Least Developed Countries and the Small Island States are the most vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change. Even though Ethiopia is one of the least developed countries that is showing a rapid economic growth, it is still being affected by drought.

At the moment the Horn of Africa, including Ethiopia, is confronted with recurring climate change related disasters, in particular prolonged droughts and floods. This drought is said to be the worst in 60 years. Drought is not something new for Ethiopia nor the Horn. However, it has become more recurrent and severe in the last decades.  Climate change is making the matters and problems worse for us who are under-developed.

In order to address the impacts of climate change, countries are negotiating under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In its 15th and 16th meetings an agreement was reached that developed countries will be supporting adaptation and mitigation actions of developing countries. We are now approaching the end of 2011, where the fast start finance of $30 billion for the years 2010-2012 is about to end. The other decision we have is the one on long-term finance to mobilize $100 billion by 2020. So far there are no pledges from the developed countries for the year 2013 and onwards.  That is a worry for us coming from the developing world. We have learned some lessons from the fast start finance, which is not new and not additional to the ODA, but is just relabeled as climate finance, given in the form of loans instead of grants. There is an imbalance between adaptation and mitigation with more money going to mitigation actions instead of adaptation.

Forty member countries of the transitional committee are designing the Green Climate Fund (GCF) of whose works will be presented in Durban to be approved by the Conference of Parties (COP).  However, most developed countries do not want to have any form of discussion on long-term finance which is supposed to fill this fund. With all of these climate related disasters happening in most parts of the world, especially developing countries being the most vulnerable and having no capacity to adapt, adaptation finance is very crucial for us. It is a matter of survival and should be taken seriously by others. Developed countries need to get more serious and commit themselves to discuss the sources of finance that will feed into the new fund. If we want an outcome in Durban, most discussions and texts need to happen here in Panama.

It is good to note that, developing countries at the local and national level are also working to raise funds for their adaptation and mitigation actions. In my organization back home, Forum for Environment-Ethiopia, we have started an initiative to raise funds, which can be used for some local adaptation actions. We have started implementing the green tax initiative in which 1% of our salaries are deducted every month. We have done this for the past year and have raised small amount, which has not been used yet. Now we want this to be taken up by other organizations at the country-level to show our commitments by raising more money and taking  local initiatives. We have started the process of engaging others to hopefully have a larger impact. Progress in Panama in all issues, especially finance, is very important for us to achieve something in the African COP in Durban.

Related Member Organization: 

Vulnerable groups are making much progress in adapting to climate change, but where we are in Panama through to Durban?

Wanun Permpibul on flooding in Thailand

Photo 1 - Photo credit: Forests and Farmers Foundation, 2011

Photos 2-4 - Photo credit: HBS Southeast Regional Office, 2011

Wanun Permpibul
Head, Energy and Climate Change Programme
Renewable Energy Institute of Thailand Foundation

Climate change is already a threat.  Extreme and unprecedented climatic events are affecting poor communities already and they have little capacity to adapt.  They have already been affected by economic and social injustice as well as other difficulties and climate change is adding another burden to their existing problems.  Adaptive capacity needs to be strengthened while longterm adaptation is necessary and must be enhanced.

A few months before the Panama Climate Talks, provinces in the lower Northern Region of Thailand, particularly Pitsanulok Province, were hit severely by floods.  Paddy fields, orchards, houses were flooded and destroyed.  People died and went missing.  Flood levels even rose up to their roofs.  Most of the houses were submerged.  Boats were floating up to the first floor of the house while residents had to stay on the second floor.  Some had to leave their houses temporarily.  Some villagers were bitten by poisonous snakes and scorpions, others were faced with infections on their feet, and other disease.  Not only are their houses and paddy fields inundated, but other resources that could be sources of income are also damaged.

As a matter of fact, villages here are flooded every year during the wet season, but the current floods are extraordinary in the sense that rainfall came two months earlier this year in a very heavy and lasting pattern before the rice could be harvested.  This is the second time for Bang Rakam Subdistrict that the rains have come earlier, the last time was in 2000 and in 1995 for the Jom Thong Subdistrict.  During the floods, villagers could not harvest, and thus were unable to earn any income.  Communities were not warned and informed well in advance enough of the floods and were not able to prepare for it.  Floods have lasted for longer periods of time.  Previously, they lasted for two months, but now it has been almost three months.  The government was trying to solve the floods problem using a traditional top down approach: they flushed out the water from the areas, but then found this created a flooding problem in another area.  

Rather than waiting for humanitarian aid and the government’s help, communities implemented their own responses to the floods and have been adjusting themselves to the climatic changes.  These are their homes for generations and they do not want to leave.  Some couldn’t afford to move elsewhere.  Their responses include changing the crop calendar by starting to grow rice months earlier than usual.  They will have to observe natural signs using their local knowledge to predict the climate pattern each year in order to prevent massive loss to crops.  Some have initiated a rice bank to store traditional rice varieties that are pest and flood tolerant with longer stalks that will not be damaged by floods.  Some have tried to grow different rice varieties in higher land or even in orchard fields.  Some have prepared for food insecurity by recovering endangered food species that are floods resistant.  Also, the pattern of housing architecture has been changed.  Many villagers have lifted their houses higher from the ground to free the flow of water.  Some even have boats to ease their travelling.  They also have learned to store some food and drinking water, and other necessities.

Additionally, they have built their own reservoirs to store water for farm use and nurturing some fish species.  They have looked for alternatives for income generation like catching fish and snakes, during floods.  Some have initiated a communication system to ease information flow during the floods among those located up-, middle- and down-stream river.  The system could also help mobilize immediate needs and supports among each other.  This should be further developed to enhance preparedness and prevent massive losses longterm.  Apart from the immediate responses, communities have been engaged in a planning process for longterm adaptation to future impacts of climatic change.  Initially, they came up with an idea of constructing an improved flood protection, but it would require significant funds and take lots of time.  Also, more research on flood tolerant species is needed.  All these elements for longterm adaptation require funds and external supports.

The Panama Talks are, therefore, important.  The delay in taking ambitious reduction targets would mean more severe and frequent extreme climatic events and poor communities will be hit the most.  As Pitsanulok, Thailand and others are faced now with the impacts, longterm adaptation is really needed.  We need to massively scale-up support for adaptation actions to cover full implementation of National Adaptation Action Strategies and Plans, from immediate to longterm actions, that will deliver regular flows of financial and other support for adaptation planning, implementation and monitoring. These should be in the form of predictable periodic grant installments and help is needed to facilitate, enable and support generation, gathering and dissemination of data, knowledge and experiences, including traditional knowledge on adaptation planning and practices.  Building upon what was agreed in Cancun – the Cancun Adaptation Framework – the creation of an Adaptation Committee under the UNFCCC will have to provide an oversight of streams of adaptation work, where the Committee should comprise members of civil society and experts in each necessary field.  This will have to be achieved in Panama so that it can be finalized in Durban in December.  

Communities are faced with hardship and are simply attempting to survive.  They might or might not know that the disasters and unpredictable patterns of rainfalls are as a result of climate change or anthropogenic emissions, but changes are happening and affecting their livelihoods and most of all, they need to live with these.   Those in Panama are well equipped with all the science, they need to make more progress.  Community voices must be heard.


Stepping up the Adaptation Committee

ECO is pleased to see that adaptation negotiators are getting busy with detailed discussions on the Adaptation Committee. Since this is the only adaptation issue currently on the LCA agenda here in Panama, we expect progress towards taking a decision in Durban, especially before negotiators start enjoying the train ride along the Panama Canal (Tourist advice of the day!). ECO would like to thank Parties for agreement to provide access to the informals and consequently was able to follow some of the discussions. ECO heard that all Parties seem to support getting the Adaptation Committee up and running in Durban, including a work programme for the first year. That is the right approach, and we hope that no one falls back into a “taking hostage” mood linking the committee to other negotiation issues.

ECO understands that there are some controversies about the link of the Adaptation Committee to the entities of the financial mechanism, in particular the Green Climate Fund. The Adaptation Committee could become a key institution, galvanizing and synthesizing knowledge and experience on different aspects around adaptation, and providing technical guidance on planning and implementation at programme and policy levels. Then existing and emerging institutions like the Green Climate Fund could build on their work, such as guidelines for funding, on the recommendations of the Adaptation Committee in order to ensure adherence to the adaptation framework, and take into consideration the growing adaptation sciences and emerging issues.

 This however does not mean that the Committee should trespass into the core business of the GCF Board (or other institutions). A soft link will be a way to increase the overall coherence which is so demanded by everyone.

ECO suggests that negotiators review a recent study published by the Earth System Governance Project. It reviewed experience from multilateral institutions from a variety of areas with regard to participatory approaches and the inclusion of stakeholders in its governance structure.

Whilst ECO appreciates that there seems to be convergence towards allowing observers to attend the Adaptation Committee meetings, the lessons learned from this and other studies suggest that adding representatives from stakeholder constituencies to the governance structure of the Committee, either voting or non-voting, could add much needed expertise, insights and credibility to the work of the Adaptation Committee.

We surmise that this was also proposed by some Parties in the negotiations. There is no doubt that stakeholder constituencies would have to ensure appropriate representation from developing countries combined with adequate expertise. Now is the time to put the Adaptation Committee on the right track, to be ambitious and to converge as soon as possible.


CAN Submission: Loss and Damage, August 2011


Cancun has rightly brought to the forefront an inconvenient truth of climate change, the question of loss and damage associated with climate change impacts including those impacts that cannot be avoided through mitigation and that also go beyond the limits of adaptation. Already emitted emissions expose developing countries to profound climate change impacts such as increase in frequency, intensity and occurrence of extreme weather events and slow-onset impacts such as rising sea-level, coastal erosions, desertification, ocean acidification, biodiversity loss, loss in arable land or glacier melt. This underlines the historic responsibility of industrialized countries, from where the major share of emissions originate. In wake of existing mitigation actions that feature a significant gap in emission reduction to be consistent with a 2° C let alone 1.5° C pathway and that rather commit humanity to a 2.5 to 5° C degrees world, it is high time for Parties to address the consequences of loss & damage, in parallel with stepping up their mitigation ambition.

For this reason, the Cancun Adaptation Framework contains establishes a work programme to explore relevant approaches for developing countries.

This submission lays out CAN’s views on the aim, structure, content and different means of the programme.


CAN Submission: National Adaptation Plans - August 2011

Overall, it is important that decisions in Durban set out and elaborate on an international process that will enable LDCs to formulate andimplement national adaptation plans, clearly articulating the role, responsibility and functions that the UNFCCC will offer, support and facilitate;

Elements in the run-up to Durban, such as the NAP expert meeting and the LEG paper on mid- and long-term adaptation planning, provide an important opportunitiy to prepare such a decision and should be used in a focused manner;

Given past experience, the specific form and format of national adaptation plans and strategies should be decided by each country, whether to create a stand alone plan as a complement or to incorporate the ‘elements of national adaptation planning’ into existing strategic plans;

The Cancún Adaptation Framework (paragraph 12, 1/CP.16) manifests important guiding principles which have to be further concretised in order to be applied in national planning processes.



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