Finding Solace (one thinks)

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I have not written in a while, not sure whether it was a conscious decision, but well, did not get around to typing anything on the blog section. The random, meaningless, rants that is, the longer, structured, supposedly technical writing I believe I have done a few in the last months.  Life got busy, with work plans, fund raising plans, funds saving plans, taking Dylan to doctor plans, making sure Dylan is not dragged to doctor plans etc. The list seems to rhyme and go on forever, just like life, and then I turn philosophical, and question the meaning of life, why we live, why we spend, why we earn, why we stress.

I think people write when they need an outlet, and of late, I do not think I look for one (that is my way of saying, I am too lazy to write, so I have not, I think I will sleep instead, I need my sleep). Then again, I also have this weird habit of writing in my head (not literally of course, anyone gets that point, but in case someone missed it reiterating it,) like finishing up whole essays, blog posts, from start to the last line, with all sorts of elaborated nonsense, and all that as mentioned before in my head. Sad, yes. But the reality nevertheless. So since they are all final, completed, and edited (all in my head of course,) I do not bother typing them out as well. Maybe someone should print my head, and then make a publication out of it, and of course distribute it for free (not sure whether anyone would want to read anything I type after paying for it.)

I feel the “non-writing for a while” having an impact when I type now as I type this  not so meaningful post, where I have to pause, delete words, rethink, and then delete a whole sentence, and then type another whole paragraph. But the it is also in a sense like my life of late. I think. I pause. I wonder whether this is what I want.  And it is not such a terrible thing you know. I am loving the change for a change, from the days where frustration of not having a choice, and doing things informed at last moment reigned in my darker hours (where I felt like pulling my hair out).

Now, I have time to pause, to plan, and to maybe live, loved. (yea, yea, a little bit of mushiness never killed anyone!)

Regional Cooperation for the Successful Implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement in South Asia

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(Photo credits: Biodiversity International via Creative Commons)

The fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (AR5 IPCC) published on regional impacts from climate change has provided that in South Asia, the climate is changing and the impacts are already being felt. It further highlights that climate change impacts will pose challenges to growth and development of the region. It points out to the need for international cooperation to address these impacts and states that, “International cooperation is vital to avert dangerous climate change impacts and South Asian governments can promote ambitious global action,”[1].

Among key areas that the Report points as being priority for the South Asia region are adaptation and low carbon development. It provides that “Adaptation will bring immediate benefits and reduce the impacts of climate change in South Asia.”[2] It also adds that adaptation is fundamental to risk management, and that South Asia has many adaptation options.

While adaptation actions are prioritized, the Report also indicates that low carbon development will also benefit the region, and the merging of adaptation and mitigation actions will lead to South Asia’s path to address climate change and its impacts. According to the Report, “South Asia stands to benefit from integrated climate adaptation, mitigation, and development approaches.”

Impacts of Climate Change on South Asia

Globally, sea levels have risen faster than at any time during the previous two millennia – and the effects are felt in South Asia.[3] Changing patterns of rainfall or melting snow and ice are altering freshwater systems, affecting the quantity and quality of water available in many regions, including South Asia.[4] Climate change will have widespread impacts on South Asian society and South Asians’ interaction with the natural environment.[5]

The AR5 highlights that, “The impacts of climate change will influence flooding of settlements and infrastructure, heat-related deaths, and food and water shortages in South Asia.” [6] It further points to impacts such as temperature extremes (high confidence)[7] which is reflected through the numbers of cold days and nights that have decreased and the numbers of warm days and nights that have increased across most of Asia since about 1950.

Further South Asia is victim to change in rainfall trends. These trends, including extremes, are characterised by strong variability, with both increasing and decreasing trends observed in different parts of Asia. Observations also show that there have been more extreme rainfall events and fewer weak rainfall events in the central Indian region.[8]

In addition to this, the region also experiences sea level rise. Changes of sea level in the Indian Ocean have emerged since the 1960s, driven by changing wind patterns.[9]

Effects of these impacts are already felt, threatening lives, food security, health and wellbeing across many parts of South Asia. Evidence show that there are clear signs that the impacts of climate change are already being felt.[10]

Need for International Cooperation

Given the interdependence among countries in today’s world, the impacts of climate change on resources or commodities in one place will have far-reaching effects on prices, supply chains, trade, investment and political relations in other places. Climate change will progressively threaten economic growth[11] and human security in complex ways, in this region and across the world.[12]

Further transboundary impacts of climate change are felt across the globe, to which actions need to be taken. While impacts are felt, and actions are needed, further needs for cooperation is highlighted by the state of countries in their economic and technical capacity whereby support from those that have a higher level with regard to both will be needed. In South Asia, the capabilities and vulnerabilities are diverse, and cooperation on climate action is needed, with attention to these elements. The political processes at the regional and international level must reflect these needs, in order to implement concrete and effective climate actions.

The AR5 of the IPCC provides that, “South Asian leaders have an important part to play – with all other international leaders – in forging this solution. Cooperating, recognising that everyone must share the effort, and making financial resources available for investment in adaptation programmes and low-emissions infrastructure are important in reaching global agreement.”.

Paris Agreement & Regional Cooperation

The Paris Agreement which entered into force on 4th November 2016, was signed by Parties to the UNFCCC at the 21st Conference of Parties held in Paris, in December 2015. In an unprecedented outcome, the Agreement for the first time brings together all countries under a common cause of addressing impacts of climate change, with all parties taking up contribution towards it. It builds on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC,) and has as its objective to strengthen the global response to climate change impacts, and keeping the global temperature rise this century to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Decision 1/CP1 of the Paris Agreement highlights the need for regional cooperation in addressing climate change impacts when it states, “recognizing that climate change represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human societies and the planet and thus requires the widest possible cooperation by all countries, and their participation in an effective and appropriate international response, with a view to accelerating the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions.”

It further adds, “agreeing to uphold and promote regional and international cooperation in order to mobilise stronger and more ambitious climate action by all Parties and non-Party stakeholders, including civil society, the private sector, financial institutions, cities and other subnational authorities, local communities, and indigenous peoples,” which focuses on the need for cooperation not only of State actors but also multiple-stakeholders for effective climate actions.

  • Adaptation & Regional Cooperation

The Agreement highlights several areas where regional cooperation is key. However this paper will focus mainly on adaptation and the elements that revolve in facilitating the implementation of the adaptation actions, as based on the climate change impacts assessment of the AR5 IPCCC it is provided as the most important element to the South Asian region.

In the Paris Agreement, Article 7 is the key section which addresses adaptation, and it includes the understanding of adaptation actions needing to have a regional dimension given the climate change impacts faced at different levels.  Under Article 7 (2) of the Paris Agreement, “Parties recognize that adaptation is a global challenge faced by all with local, subnational, national, regional and international dimensions, and that it is a key component of and makes a contribution to the long-term global response to climate change to protect people, livelihoods and ecosystems, taking into account the urgent and immediate needs of those developing country Parties that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.”

The challenges that arise in cooperation in actions at the international level are at times the issues that pertain to sovereignty and the decision-making power of countries through regional and international decision making. In order to address this challenge which might arise, whereby resistance to adaptation actions could develop, the Agreement further provides that it will not be impacting the country’s decision making processes.

Under Article 7 (5) the Parties “acknowledge that adaptation action should follow a country-driven, gender-responsive, participatory and fully transparent approach, taking into consideration vulnerable groups, communities and ecosystems, and should be based on and guided by the best available science and, as appropriate, traditional knowledge, knowledge of indigenous peoples and local knowledge systems, with a view to integrating adaptation into relevant socioeconomic and environmental policies and actions, where appropriate,” which highlights that the countries will be making the decisions on adaptation processes.

Another mention on cooperation which is on adaptation is through the reference to the Cancun Adaptation Framework where it states that, “Parties should strengthen their cooperation on enhancing action on adaptation, taking into account the Cancun Adaptation Framework, including with regard to:

  • Sharing information, good practices, experiences and lessons learned, including, as appropriate, as these relate to science, planning, policies and implementation in relation to adaptation actions;
  • Strengthening institutional arrangements, including those under the Convention that serve this Agreement, to support the synthesis of relevant information and knowledge, and the provision of technical support and guidance to Parties;
  • Strengthening scientific knowledge on climate, including research, systematic observation of the climate system and early warning systems, in a manner that informs climate services and supports decision-making;
  • Assisting developing country Parties in identifying effective adaptation practices, adaptation needs, priorities, support provided and received for adaptation actions and efforts, and challenges and gaps, in a manner consistent with encouraging good practices; and
  • Improving the effectiveness and durability of adaptation actions.

Such cooperation on knowledge sharing, and providing technical support is vital in understanding best ways for adaptation. Despite certain diversity, there are also common needs and vulnerabilities that the South Asian region faces. While some countries are different from others, they are also similar in impacts faced, vulnerabilities as well as capacities. Given this,  collaboration within SAARC on adaptation actions is important to addressing climate change in an effective manner.

  • Strengthening Regional Cooperation

The Paris Agreement and its decisions request Parties to strengthen regional cooperation on adaptation where appropriate and, where necessary, establish regional centres and networks, in particular in developing countries, taking into account decision 1/CP.16, paragraph. This includes “facilitating the sharing of good practices, experiences and lessons learned; Identifying actions that could significantly enhance the implementation of adaptation actions, including actions that could enhance economic diversification and have mitigation co-benefits; Promoting cooperative action on adaptation;”[13]

In addition to this SBT44 held in 2016,  Partie agreed on a number of activities under the “Nairobi Work Programme under the UNFCCC focusing on adaptation to inform adaptation planning and actions at the regional, national and subnational levels, particularly in relation to, inter alia, ecosystems, human settlements, water resources and health.”

In addition to the specific sections that refer to adaptation, the sections on capacity building also refer to the need for “Fostering global, regional, national and subnational cooperation; Identifying opportunities to strengthen capacity at the national, regional and subnational level.”

Further Article 10 on technology transfer and support provides under sub section 6 that “Support, including financial support, shall be provided to developing country Parties for the implementation of this Article, including for strengthening cooperative action on technology development and transfer at different stages of the technology cycle, with a view to achieving a balance between support for mitigation and adaptation.”

The element of support is crucial for regional cooperation in the context of South Asia as mentioned above, given that while there are similarities, there are also differences that highlight the need for benefitting from one country’s capacities to help the other country adapt to climate change. In doing this, as previously it is important that the countries’ sovereignty is respected and that actions are taken in a manner that the capacity of countries are developed through technical and financial support, as well as resilience being built.

Conclusion

With climate change impacts being felt in the region of South Asia at a higher level each day, and the economic and social vulnerabilities of people of the region rendering them more vulnerable to these impacts, it is important that South Asia as a region takes initiatives to address climate change.

The Paris Agreement entering into force in November 2016, highlights regional cooperation on adaptation as an important element. And it is time for regional actors such as the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to take a pro-active role in making climate policy discussed in Nepal in 2014 at the SAARC gathering – where many aspects of climate change and regional cooperation were discussed – be invested into concrete actions. This will in turn contribute to building bridges to address common issues of the region, as well as create/facilitate the creation of links between countries for collaborative actions to address issues related to climate change, through regional cooperation which in turn will (hopefully) lead to a more unified and peaceful South Asia.

 

[1] The Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC: What’s in it for South Asia? Executive Summary, (2014)

[2]  Ibid

[3] “The rate of sea level rise has been greater than the mean rate during the previous two millennia (high confidence).” IPCC (2013). Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Summary for Policymakers (p11)

[4] IPCC (2014). Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Summary for Policymakers (p4)

[5] Ibid

[6] IPCC (2014). Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Summary for Policymakers (Box SPM.2 Table 1, p21)

[7] IPCC (2014). Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Chapter 24 (p3)

[8] IPCC (2014). Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Chapter 24 (p6).

[9] IPCC (2014). Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Chapter 24 (p6)

[10] IPCC (2014). Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Chapter 18.

[11] IPCC (2014). Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Chapter 10 (p4)

[12] IPCC (2014). Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Chapter 12 (p2)

[13] Decision 1/CP16 UNFCCC

Climate Change, Brown Skin and the Global South

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It has been years since I had entered the world of climate change where people talk of the Global South and the Global North, the two sides of development in the world geography: developing and the developed world. We professionals, we become part of it, based on our skin colour, and geographical location (consciously or unconsciously). Our mode of thinking, well it comes to play some importance time to time.

I have often been taken as too Southern-ist in some discussions, while some have accused me at times of not being enough Southern-ist. I have tried to keep the middle ground, the one that sees both sides of the story, till I have lost my patience recently,  seeing that colour and the geographical location have at most times turned a token on a panel, or a representation for a grant application.

You see the ever so caring grant applications putting the face of a brown human on their report. Addressing the needs of the vulnerable they call it. Capacity building plays a role too, if it is an eternal process for applying for funding. The South needs their capacity built. Apparently all are incompetent most of the time, unless to serve the purpose of funding applications.

I have been frustrated many times of late. The way the brown skin, a woman of brown skin fills a slot on a panel to fit that gender balance, the geographical balance, and then not to be given the due value in a context where decisions are being made. We speak of participatory processes, set up superficially a list of meetings to say a programme is as inclusive as it possibly could be, and promote the multi-stakeholder engagement while internal decisions are driven with no voice for those who are supposed to be the focus of work implemented. Where are those values you seem to be harping on?

I have watched sexual harassment happening in the Southern NGOs, not paid attention to, ignored when reported, and in turn developing a cycle of belief that it is not being worth reported. I have watched old men of repute squeezing interns bums, the horrified girls reporting of the happening to the seniors they trust, and the old man squeezing bums seen at the recurring conference every year. No actions taken, no questions asked.

We talk of saving the world, saving the values, social justice, when we work in a world half the slogans are hypocrisy, and faces and people are mere tokens for promoting one’s cause. I have watched colleagues leave in silence, without saying what they feel to those who need to be told about the horrors of their behaviour. I have seen many talented and passionate humans walk away from their work, frustrated and having had enough of what has been happening.

Me? I have had it for a long while. The sexual harassment that is not recorded, the way the southern folk are habitually synonymised with not being able to promote their own cause and needing a mouth-piece from the North to promote their interests, or just being a decorative element on a panel to show inclusivity and gender balance.

I write this because I have seen enough, and watching in silence is not the solution. If one is walking out of a system, then they need to make them feel heard and not step down in silence.

We speak of climate justice and social justice. I think it’s time we set up a library of dictionaries so that we do get a grasp of what we refer to as “justice”!

brown

“I am brown, a woman, and have my own voice.”

 

To Saner Things, & Other Things.

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It was one of those weeks where I have a reality check on what I need to focus on, like what I should try to locate in people to know whether they are trust-worthy, having the capacity to stand up for themselves and not sell me off to save their asses. Or in general to understand more about human behaviour and relationships.

The boy laughs at my stories on life (like my travel disasters, speech disasters, or random disasters,) and the stories of the man of whom I tell him stories. Of course he was perplexed first, just like I was to start with. Who would not be, to start with, of course?

The steps of the stories go: dating, daddy choosing bride, son has to marry bride, son goes to see the bride (in clandestine, though of course daddy wants him to marry her, and not so much him for that matter,) the other becomes the crazy woman to save the son’s ass (figuratively not literally, I mean hopefully,) and what not (more steps in between, but let’s stick to the summary of it, for all the good reasons in the universe. Yes, I consciously skipped “the world”. Universe makes it more dramatic for sure! And, yes I like brackets!)

Anyways, I think we know how this story goes, with all its humour, and the grotesque taste of reality mixed with stupidity. (Reality of course for my part, and stupidity to whoever should choose it to be their part.)

And he laughs. Obviously I am glad he does. (Rather than lose it over the idiocies that I am uttering over the phone.)

We presume (me, myself and I being the “we”) that he would not be reading this (hopefully). We have come to an agreement that he would not read my blog posts, and I shall probably not read his poetry (after getting a bit freaked out by the dark imagery). We have definitely not written it down on a contract with him signing at the bottom of it that he shall not read my writing, but then again, we like the amusement of throwing a tantrum over the potential of him reading this. He says he understands, and that he does not want to pry into my life! (There’s a man with patience over even the biggest nonsense!) Anyways, in short he indulges, and agrees. Not sure whether he obliges. Not important, indulging sufficing. So be it.  (And no, I am not losing it, I just choose to write like this. As I mentioned, it has been one of those weeks, and Vositha is allowed to be this.)

All in all, I liked the week. And the weekend. The long conversations, blocking people out of life, (interesting and amusing it was and stupid in some sense as well).

Now for environmental justice, long writing, and for more humane things! Things like weddings in July, red heels and white flowers, and probably a dress, and maybe something to laugh about even if I am sleep deprived. But definitely not a blue suit and red shirt! Things like that, which spare my stress levels the stress, and do not involve reality checks. Simple things in life, which has no arranged marriages, other women.

And yes, I like this ring. It makes me feel, what’s the word for it? Special, yes, absolutely special!

ring

The end! (I get back to saner things like, writing my case studies and policy documents.)

Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and the Need for Domestic Actions

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(C) Creative Commons 

 

The Paris Agreement focusing on climate change and ways to address its adverse impacts was adopted on the 12th December 2015. It provides both binding and voluntary measures to address the objective of limiting the rise of global temperatures “well below” 2°C above pre-industrial levels, with the background target being 1.5°C”. The Agreement will be legally binding upon ratification by at least 55 countries that represents 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and will be the basis for the work ahead on climate change. While needing further development in the coming years through domestic actions, and further decisions to be developed within the process, the Agreement will be addressing its objective of addressing climate change at the global level, and highlights issues such as food security, human rights and climate justice, as well as livelihood quality jobs.

Key Features of the Agreement

The Agreement is considered by many as providing hope and means to address the impacts of climate change, having gained the support of 195 countries for its adoption. In its purpose, which is formed with a sense of aspiration, the countries are provided with self-differentiation on its responsibilities. (The historic responsibility based method not in its rigid form as wished by many). The common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities defined under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) though not completely abandoned, could also be interpreted as not present in its strongest form in the Paris Agreement. This being one of the reasons as to why some groups feel that the outcome of the Paris negotiations on climate change is not cause for euphoria. Among other aspects criticised being the lack of financial commitments, and the non-inclusion of liability and compensation for loss and damage.

  • Mitigation:

On mitigation, the system is “bottom-up” (the countries needing to take actions, than being bound at the international level to prescribed to take actions) and the mitigation obligations for countries is through the communication of national determined contributions every five years. The countries are required to “pursue” domestic actions to achieve the objective of achieving the contributions listed in their intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) which were submitted to the UNFCCC as their voluntary contributions to bring down the global emission levels of greenhouse gases causing climate change. A sign that if the world is to achieve the objective of keeping the global temperature increase to 1.5 C, then the countries will need to take more ambitious actions at the national level to reduce their emission levels.

  • Adaptation:

Adaptation, the way to address the already existing impacts of climate change by adjusting to them and changes made to exist with those impacts is one of the key elements for countries vulnerable to climate change. Under the UNFCCC, the developed countries had agreed to support the adaptation efforts of developing countries. This includes financial and technical support to developing countries for appropriate actions, and efforts to adapt to the impacts felt in their countries. The Paris Agreement though providing for the continuation of obligation by developed countries to provide financial and technical support to developing countries does not provide for clear and predictable financial support by the developed countries.

  • Loss and Damage:

Addressing the losses and damages caused by climate change in developing countries has been one of the key issues of the Paris negotiations. There has been a strong call for the recognition of loss and damage, separately from adaptation and as a separate element of the Agreement from developing countries. While the Agreement was successful in identifying loss and damage as a separate element from adaptation, the question on liability and compensation for loss and damage remains not answered. Further, there is an exclusion for compensation and liability which through the decision of the Paris outcome. The Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) which was set up to address loss and damage, at the 19th conference of parties (COP) of the UNFCCC will further operate under the Paris Agreement. In order to address climate induced displacement, the Executive Board of the WIM is to establish a task force tasked with developing recommendations and approaches to address this issue.

  • Compliance:

The inclusion of compliance as part of the Agreement has survived. However in a non-punitive, non-judicial way, despite the call for setting up a climate justice tribunal by some parties. Compliance is intended to be facilitative and linked with the obligation under the section on transparency which is on all Parties to report their mitigation efforts, and for developed country parties to report on support for finance, capacity building and technology transfer, the word compliance is found for a mechanism to facilitate implementation and promote compliance. In order to ensure that compliance remains an important element of the Agreement, more time will need to be invested in developing the ways for its effective implementation.

Paris Agreement and Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka as an island state is vulnerable to impacts of climate change. Adverse impacts of climate change are already felt in the country, and with the potential for temperature increase, if concrete actions are not taken to reduce emission levels of greenhouse gases, the country will be at a more vulnerable stage to these adverse impacts. This heightens the importance of the Paris Agreement, and the need for ambitious actions of Parties to it.

Sri Lanka at the climate negotiations has been negotiating as part of the G77 and China, as well as the Like Minded Developing Countries. The country has submitted it INDCs prior to the negotiations, and the contributions include both mitigation and adaptation ones, also highlights the need to address loss and damage. Sri Lanka has also developed its National Adaptation Plan which is to be launched, and will be the basis for measures to be taken on adapting to climate change. With the Presidential manifesto highlighting the need for a shift to renewable energy, which falls in line with the efforts on climate change mitigation, it will be important to see how the actions will be taken to achieve the domestic targets in a participatory manner, through a multi-stake holder driven transparent and accountable process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Adaptation Plans: Cancun to Paris, a Move Forward/ Step Back?

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In 2010, at the 16th session of the Conference of Parties, the Cancun Adaptation Framework  (CAF) affirmed that adaptation and mitigation need to be addressed with the same level of priority.  The objective of the CAF provides for the enhancement of adaptation action, through international cooperation, and coherent consideration of matters relating to adaptation under the Convention. The ultimate objective of this being the reduction of vulnerability of communities to the impacts of climate change, and building resilience in developing countries especially those that are most vulnerable to climate change.

CAF & NAPs

CAF further introduced the national adaptation plans (NAPs), a key element to address adaptation at national level, as part of the five clusters introduced by the CAF. NAPs was introduced as a process to enable LDC Parties to formulate and implement adaptation actions at the national level. The CAF also invited other developing country Parties to employ modalities developed to support the NAPs.

Since Cancun, the NAPs further evolved through subsequent COP decisions. The adaptation actions are to be undertaken in accordance with the Convention, follow a country-driven, gender-sensitive, participatory and fully transparent approach, taking into consideration vulnerable groups, communities and ecosystems. They are also to be based on and guided by the best available science and, as appropriate, traditional and indigenous knowledge; and be undertaken with a view to integrating adaptation into relevant social, economic and environmental policies and actions. Finance for NAPs for LDCs was requested to be through the Least Developed Countries Fund, and for developing countries to be through the Special Climate Change Fund and the Green Climate Fund, based on country driven, and any preparatory efforts that exist in the country to implement the NAPs.

The question that remains is what role or importance is allocated to NAPs by the Draft Texts for Paris, and what outcomes could be expected for them, based on the documents proposed for negotiations. For the purpose of this article, the choice of language for commitment towards adaptation and NAPs have been considered as binding, and the “best-case” choice of text – using the “shall” bracketed options is considered.

 

COP21 Draft Text for the Agreement

 

Adaptation is included in Article 4 of the negotiating text. Among choices to be made that have grabbed the attention of many is the choice between global goal and long-term vision for adaptation. While agreeing that the global goal on adaptation is important, and that it needs to reflect the level of temperature based on the mitigation targets, and link that to the associated level of adaptation that would be needed, what remains missing in importance seems to be the NAPs in the text. While certain elements to be highlighted in NAPs, such as those of livelihoods, gender equality, economic diversification, ecosystems are reflected through options to be decided on, the direct reference to NAPs remain minute, and not reflecting the amount of time invested in the five years since Cancun to ensure that the formulation, and more importantly the implementation, of NAPs would be a key element in the progress of adaptation actions in countries.

 

The text of Article 4 provides for the need to support “national adaptation plans and other adaptation actions, in accordance with the provisions of Article 4 of the Convention,” and the option is left for Parties to decide whether it should be a binding commitment or non-mandatory. If one were to pick the option “shall” among those options proposed in the bracketed text, as mentioned above if assuming the most optimistic choice of language,  then the Least Developed Countries and the Small Island Developing Countries will be able to hold the developed countries responsible for the provision of support for the NAPs and adaptation actions in their countries.

 

Article 4.6 of the Draft Text caters again (with options as usual, and many a bracket) to mentioning the NAPs. However the previous text on NAPs, the reference to NAPs is listed as an option among others which do not necessarily include the “implementation” aspect that the NAPs include, once again allowing it to be left out of the Agreement. The text provides for the following:  “Each Party, in accordance with [Article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and] its national circumstances and priorities (shall) engage in [a] [national] adaptation planning [process], [including national adaptation plans,] and enhance other relevant plans, policies, actions and/or contributions.”

 

A simple analysis of the above option provides that:

  1. a) Engaging in NAPs, and support thereof, is not deemed to be a country commitment
  2. b) “Plans” is a word to be questioned as it would produce a “product”, which makes it likely that a commitment of support for its contents would be sought, as opposed to a more vague wording such as “planning”
  3. c) The word “including adaptations plans” gives Parties the belief that they could pick whether to embark on formulating a NAP or not, and that the choice is somehow for their own benefit, and that a NAP is not considered with sufficient importance that it needs to be allocated.
  4. d) There is also the option of not developing a NAP, but to continue planning, or enhancing plans and policies and other options that exist for Parties to address adaptation needs of the country.

 

Financing NAPs

 

The next mention of NAPs in the Draft Text is through the option on financing for adaptation under Article 4.  The text conspicuously lacks a mandate for international support to be provided by the UNFCCC’s financial mechanism.  Rather, it refers to bilateral support which is neither accountable to the COP nor of which additionality is fully traceable by the Parties.  Additionally, the text merely mentions “plans”, which need not specifically be understood to refer to the actual COP-endorsed NAPs:

 

“[Developed country Parties shall provide developing country Parties, taking into account the needs of those that are particularly vulnerable, with long-term, scaled-up, predictable, new and additional finance, technology and capacity- building, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Convention, to implement urgent, short-, medium- and long-term adaptation actions, plans, programmes and projects at the local, national, subregional and regional levels, in and across different economic and social sectors and ecosystems][Developed countries [shall][should] transfer technology, in particular for early warning systems through United Nations mechanisms in order to make it accessible for all].”

 

Not only do the options not explicitly mention NAPs, they also provide for it to be merged through wording provided and picked out from. It remains doubtful as to whether the intention of the textual proposal encompasses the objective of seeking finance for NAPs including their formulation for all developing countries, or whether the intention is to preserve the ambiguity that leads for finance needs for developing NAPs for all developing Parties to be left outside the commitments on finance by developed countries; the advantage of the wording being that finance for adaptation actions is provided may be interpreted to include and not be limited to NAPs, whereas the disadvantage being that it prevents countries from developing comparable products – plans that are holistic, and covering the needs at national level, based on the already-agreed COP guidelines, that would inevitably facilitate better adaptation which is inclusive, participatory, transparent and accountable.

 

The draft decision text requests the Adaptation Committee to take into account of the aggregate temperature level based on the mitigation section of the Agreement, and to refer to the impacts it would have on national adaptation planning in countries. It further emphasises the need for support for LDCs for implementing their NAPs, and the request to the GCF to expedite the process for accessing finance. The question thereby remains for those developing countries that wish to access adaptation finance, and not provided with support for formulating a NAP, or technical support for it. Would the assumption be that all countries are required to develop adaptation policies, and have undertakings under their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, and thereby not provided additional funding for developing them, in turn making it not the issue of providing support for all developing countries to formulate and implement NAPs?

 

NAPs in Paris: A Step Back?

 

In Cancun and in subsequent decisions, NAPs evolved as a means for identifying country driven solutions for adaptation, as well as a way of accessing finance for adaptation for LDCs, as well as other developing countries including SIDS. Decision 3/CP.20 “recognizes that the process to formulate and implement national adaptation plans is fundamental for building adaptive capacity and reducing vulnerability to the impacts of climate change,” which is different to what is mentioned on NAPs in the COP21 texts.

 

It further adds that NAPs to be “continuous, iterative and long-term nature of the national adaptation plan process, and that … can serve as an important tool for ensuring a common understanding and for communicating progress made towards both reducing vulnerability and integrating climate change adaptation into national and development planning.”

 

In addition to this, in Lima the Parties decided that “there is a need to enhance the reporting on the process to formulate and implement the national adaptation plan,” and also noted “that there is a need to strengthen the existing reporting related to the process to formulate and implement national adaptation plans under the Convention.” An aspect that has been put to question in the COP21 texts, where NAPs are not emphasised, and nor seen as a key focus for reporting on adaptation. The negotiating process seems to be developing selective amnesia where previous gains on adaptation planning and implementation are concerned and is, accordingly, starting the same discussion from scratch, yet ironically with less aspiration than what had already been previously accomplished.

 

The same applies for financing NAPs. If the process is to be in accordance with the Lima Decision on NAPs as agreed by Parties, then the needs for financing of NAPs in LDCs as well as all developing countries need to be addressed. The decision in Lima provided that “the Adaptation Committee and the Least Developed Countries Expert Group, in collaboration with the Green Climate Fund, as an operating entity of the Financial Mechanism, consider how to best support developing country Parties in accessing funding from the Green Climate Fund for the process to formulate and implement national adaptation plans, and to report thereon to the Subsidiary Body for Implementation at its forty-second session.” The COP21 texts reverse this progress by narrowing this provision of finance only to the LDCs.

 

Where to in Paris?

 

In Paris, countries need to ensure that NAPs are a key element of the adaptation planning and processes of countries, and that the developing country Parties are all supported, specifically by the financial mechanism of the convention, to not only formulate NAPs, but also to implement them in a country driven manner which prioritises the developmental needs as well as increasing the resilience of communities of those countries. The NAPs should not be limited to the LDCs, and/or the SIDS (while special attention may very well need to be allocated to them due to their vulnerabilities) but to all developing countries as a step building on and consistent with the provisions of the Cancun Adaptation Framework. If this is not recognised, then the work on NAPs and adaptation will be moving 5 years behind, as opposed to moving to solve the global needs for adaptation through the Paris Agreement.

 

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