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The 23rd Conference of Parties (COP23) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was held in Bonn, Germany from November 6th to 17th, 2017. It was the first COP to be presided by a Small Island Developing State, with Fiji as its presidency, and was politically and technically important due to diverse reasons.

This article will focus on key aspects of the negotiations which present implications on the developing countries, and prioritises on issues such as adaptation, loss and damage and climate finance. It does not discuss in extensive detail the topics related to discussion as many articles published on COP23 focuses primarily on it, and allocates space for issues that have not been widely discussed and would play a role in addressing climate change in the developing world.

The article does not present itself as an exhaustive discussion on all aspects important to developing countries in addressing adverse impacts of climate change. However, it is compiled with the objective of highlighting outcomes that focus on the needs of the developing countries, aspects that will be crucial to regions such as the South Asian region, and the activities that will follow in 2018 to build on these outcomes.


Climate change adaptation plays a crucial role for developing countries, especially those most vulnerable to climate change. While mitigation of CO2 and other Green House Gases is important, countries that are already impacted by climate change need urgent adaptive measures. The discussions on adaptation at the climate change negotiations were focused on many tracks among which are the Nairobi Work Programme (NWP), the Adaptation Committee, the Adaptation Communications, National Adaptation Plans as well as issues relevant to finance for adaptation.

Adaptation Communications could be seen as a tool under the Paris Agreement that will contribute to highlighting the adaptation-related priorities, and support for adaptation. The progress of the discussions on the Adaptation Communications will be important for developing countries as it would highlight the need for reporting on adaptation efforts and support, as well as drawing interlinkages between the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction. However, the negotiations on the topic saw divergences among the developing and developed countries on the inclusion of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, national circumstances, and flexibility on reporting.

In addition to this, the discussions on NAPs was another key element for the developing countries. This is due to the discussions focusing on support provided through the Readiness and Preparatory Programme of the Green Climate Fund (GCF). Under the GCF Readiness Programme, developing countries are allocated up to USD 3 million per country for the formulation of national adaptation plans and/or other adaptation planning processes by NDAs or focal points[1]. The Readiness Programme is aimed to facilitate the development of NAPs with a focus on national priorities in developing adaptation measures to address impacts of climate change.  During the negotiations on NAPs, it was highlighted by developing countries that several hurdles were faced by them in accessing GCF Readiness Support. This included among others the lengthy time needed to get approval for Readiness Support. Further, it was noted that a very low number of approvals have been received for applications, and the importance of fast tracking and facilitating the access to finance for NAP readiness was emphasized, so as to contribute to addressing  the needs of developing countries related to climate change adaptation.

Climate Finance

As expected, climate finance plays a key role in the negotiations, with support for climate action being indispensable for vulnerable countries. The finance discussions could be deemed cross-cutting and featured  under the streams on long-term finance, finance under the NDCs, Transparency Framework and the Global Stocktake, finance through the GCF, GEF and Adaptation Fund, and the negotiations on the Standing Committee on Finance.

One of the key issues to be reiterated in the negotiations on climate finance was the commitment of developed countries to jointly mobilise US$100 billion per year by 2020, which was agreed to in 2009, in Copenhagen. The next round of updated biennial submissions are requested from developed countries and a summary report will be prepared through these submissions. The upcoming intersessions in May, 2018 will see the organizing of an in-session workshop  on the topic whereby a summary report will be prepared for COP 24, and  two assessments on climate finance will be published in 2018 and 2020 to provide further information on the status of climate finance under the process.

Under the negotiations on the GCF, it was reported that the Fund is truly operational and delivering on its mandate. However, it was noted that the accreditation remains a challenge for many entities that have sought to gain accreditation to the GCF. This triggered the review of the accreditation framework, which is considered a challenge by many entities.

Another topic of interest on climate finance are the negotiations on the Adaptation Fund. The Fund has been a cause of divergence in COP22 as well as COP23. The members countries of the Kyoto Protocol agreed in COP23 that the Fund shall serve the Paris Agreement, which removed the doubts on the placement of the Fund. Further, pledges were made to the Fund, which amounted to US $93.3 million, with new pledges from Germany amounting to 50 million. Similar pledges were made to the Least Developed Country Fund (LDCF) during the COP23 as well.

The developments on the climate finance discussions and the workshop to be held in May will be important to see the pathway for support for climate action in the world.

Loss and Damage

Finance for Loss and Damage was not a win that the developing countries received during the last COP. While developing countries see loss and damage as one of the pillars with mitigation and adaptation, at present climate finance does not cover Loss and Damage as does the other two pillars.

However, there were discussions on the Loss and Damage during the COP, and these focused on the work of the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage (WIM), the 5 year rolling plan, and the setting up of the expert dialogue on loss and damage. The Suva Expert Dialogue on Loss and Damage will be organized during the upcoming May session, to be held in Bonn. The discussions on the topic would be important to developing countries to understand the ways in which the topic of Loss and Damage could play a key role in climate change actions, and how finance could be mobilized to address the losses and damages felt by the developing countries due to adverse impacts of climate change.

Dealing with Risk Transfer and Launch of InsuRelience Global Partnership

Two key developments that could be linked and marked to adaptation and the Loss and Damage discussions could be deemed as the mode for addressing risk transfer and the ways of insuring vulnerable communities against the impacts of climate change. While insurance for climate change has been a topic debate, and seen as a negative element in cases where the communities are requested to insure themselves which places an additional financial burden on them, the InsuRelience Global Partnership presented a different structure for risk management.

Funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through a contribution of 110 million euros (US $125 million) the Partnership focuses on disaster risk finance, and provides insurance solutions with the aim of providing affordable insurance for vulnerable groups. Additional contribution to the Partnership was provided by the United Kingdom in the form of   £30 million (US $39 million) as commitment made in July 2017.[2] The  Partnership builds on the InsuResilience initiative founded during the German G7 Presidency in 2015, and aimed to providing insurance for an additional 400 million poor and vulnerable people in developing countries against climate risks by 2020. [3]

COP23 also saw the launch of the  Fiji Clearing House for Risk Transfer, and online resource aimed to provide access to vulnerable countries to  the best available information on affordable insurance and solutions. [4]However, the process contributing directly to vulnerable communities accessing information through the online resource provision remains vague. While a person with access to internet and resources could address one’s questions to the experts on the system, it is unlikely that a marginalized and vulnerable communities will be realistically be able to address their questions to experts and make decisions on how to address risks on climate change. While the launch of the platform is appreciated, for it to be realistically meeting its objective, more work will remain to be done at the ground level.


Progress in Agriculture

Agriculture has been a topic of divergence for over many years in the COP process. However, in COP23, the years of deadlock was terminated, with the countries reached an agreement on agriculture which aims to address food security, and impacts felt on agriculture through climate change impacts. This is considered as the first substantive outcome and COP decision in the history of the UNFCCC processes on agriculture.[5]

The agreement on agriculture at COP23 establishes the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture which focuses on developing cobenefit based actions on agriculture. This would mean that new actions and strategies will be implemented which focus on both  adaptation and mitigation focusing on both reduction of emissions and building of resilience in the agriculture sector.

The outcomes of COP23 on agriculture remain of great importance to countries of South Asia, and other developing countries as impacts of climate change are strongly felt on the small holder farmers, that contributes approximately 70% of the food production globally. Impacts felt on these farmers impact food security and increase existing vulnerabilities of communities of the region. Wish support of multiple actors, the small holder farmers of developing countries could build their resilience and face the impacts of climate change.

Wins for the Vulnerable

Gender negotiations in COP23 succeeded in developing a decision to develop a Gender Action Plan (GAP). This is developed with the aim to enhance the participation of women in the UNFCCC process and the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

Among activities that are highlighted under the Gender Action Plan are Activities capacity building, knowledge sharing and communication as well as integrating gender perspectives and enhanced knowledge on gender-responsive policy, planning and programming, gender balance and participation, gender-responsive implementation and means of implementation with improved social and gender-assessments and information, and direct access for grassroots women’s groups, and gender-responsive climate technologies. The GAP aims to integrate gender into the many levels of work in addressing climate change, including monitoring and evaluation of climate action.

The decision remains important to developing countries where women remain vulnerable to climate change, and where at most times their voices and concerns are not reflected in the decision-making processes. In highlighting the need for integrating gender into the climate change processes under the UNFCCC, it provides scope for women to engage more in climate change initiatives to contribute as well as to benefit from the actions taken to address climate change.

In addition to the GAP, the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform was also a highlight of COP23 providing space for the indigenous communities to share experiences and best practices in addressing climate change.

From COP23 to COP24

2018 marks a key year for climate negotiations. With the Paris Rule Book to be finalized by COP24, negotiations on issues related to setting the framework for Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), reporting of adaptation efforts, transparency and MRV framework, elements of the global stocktake, and monitoring of compliance under the Paris Agreement which remain to be finalized.

In May, in Bonn, and in months leading to the COP24 in Katowice in Poland, the discussions will focus on finalizing the Rule Book, and enhancing and building on the outcomes, as well as the unresolved elements of COP23 such as climate finance discussions focusing on article 9.5 of the Paris Agreement, relating to developed countries reporting on their climate finance flows to developing countries which was left unresolved in COP23.

In order to benefit from these negotiations, it will be important for developing countries, to stay focused on the national and global priorities needed to address the sustainable development of their populations. It will be equally important for the developing countries to find avenues for integrating climate change and negotiations on climate change at the global level to the sustainable development priorities at the national and local level so as to prioritise on the needs of the vulnerable communities who are most affected by the impacts of climate change.







[1] GCF Readiness Support, Retrieved from: https://www.greenclimate.fund/gcf101/empowering-countries/readiness-support

[2] $125 Million Announced for New Global Partnership to Provide Financial Protection against Climate Risks, Retrieved from: https://cop23.com.fj/125-million-announced-new-global-partnership-provide-financial-protection-climate-risks/

[3] Ibid

[4] Key Achievements from COP23, Retrieved from: https://cop23.com.fj/key-achievements-cop23/

[5] Countries Reach Historic Outcome on Agriculture, Retrieved from: https://cop23.com.fj/countries-reach-historic-agreement-agriculture/