MRV works for me!

7 October 2011

Jiayi Xu: MRV works for me

Jiayi Xu
Programme Officer
Institute for Environment and Development (IED)

Since February this year, I started my career in climate change. After an orientation from my supervisor FEI Xiaojing, the former South Capacity Building fellow of CAN-International, I started my participation in the CAN Measureable, Reportable and Verifiable (MRV) working group. The Bonn intersession was the starting point for me to get insight into my job. Panama is the second stop for my career to increase my understanding. However, compared to Bonn session, I am much clearer about the area in which I am interested.

There are many issues within MRV that are cross-cutting with other issues, but I am particularly interested in the framework of MRV. Personally, my expectation for Panama is to learn more about International Assessment and Review (IAR) for developed countries and International Consultation and Analysis (ICA) for developing countries. For the negotiations, my expectation for this intersession is to see the discussion of design, accounting rules, and components needed to get covered; most importantly, capacity building for MRV in developing countries. If the discussion continues, in Durban, it is highly possible to have some outcomes of the guidelines and timetable for IAR and ICA.

In Panama, I participated in the discussion in the CAN MRV working group to continue learning. Due to the clash with some important meetings, I have not attended informal meetings about MRV, which I planned to do. However, by attending CAN meetings, I am able to keep myself updated for MRV issues. Meanwhile, I attended side events to hear about some technical MRV issues, including accounting rules, systems, and tools.

The discussion about IAR and ICA tools and MRV capacity building are important in Panama. The MRV issue might achieve progressive outcomes in Durban COP17 if enough progress is made in Panama. Panama is the last intersessional before the COP, and any continuing discussion about MRV can be a positive signal to progress this issue. For example, the discussion about capacity building for developing country in ICA accommodates the feasibility and ability for developing countries to conduct an MRV process. The ‘dream’ of an MRV process is to ensure environmental integrity, collaborative work, and transparency of accounting for emissions in each country.


When I started work on MRV, I did not realize what this issues was all about and what it meant to track negotiations. Apart from my work on MRV, I also do adaptation research in vulnerable areas around climate change in western China. And I love it much more than tracking the MRV issue. Between Panama and Bonn, I continued my researche by interviewing farmers when visiting local communities. Once I was in a village in southwest China, where there used to be plenty of precipitation in summer carried over from East Asia and the Indian monsoons. This year it only rained three times, resulting in severe drought. A 70 year-old farmer said to me, “I have just been following the cultivating methods that I inherited from previous generations, it worked for decades. I have been kind and moral in my life. Why do I get this punishment? Please tell me how it happens and where I went wrong.” The punishment he referred to is that all the rice died in the fields because of the drought. He lost the major income resource for the year. Just before I arrived, he made a decision to harvest the rice 3 months earlier than usual and feed it to the livestock he kept, while waiting for help from the government. The women (in the picture above) experienced the same situation and made the same decision. I really wanted to say that it is not them that cause climate change, but it’s the whole world. It is not him, who only has one lamp and one television consuming electricity, that induces climate change. It is everyone in the cities, where there are energy-intensive industries that are the problem. Some countries in the world contribute more to his “punishment” than others. On my way back to my office, I realized a transparent monitoring system for countries to achieve environmental integrity is vital, and that is exactly the difficult issue I am now working on, MRV.

After that, I rescheduled my work plans and am balancing between tracking negotiations and my community adaptation research.  Now, I have a reason and a mission to be in Panama and see a point in devoting my time to the research of MRV. Rationally, it is impossible to end his “punishment” in the near future, but I still hope he will live a happy and prosperous life. I will continue my work, for adaptation, for MRV, for climate change.

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