COP 23 – Transformational Adaptation Solutions to Combat Climate Change

 

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With COP coming to a close at the end of the last week a noticeable theme throughout the negotiations and side events was on transformation – the notion that a fundamental change in the way we tackle climate change is needed if we are going to meet the Paris Agreement target of keeping global average temperature rise below 1.5-2 degrees Celsius. With current emission levels as they stand now, the world is not on track to meet this ambitious goal. However, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a fundamental aspect to combat global warming, adaptation to the increased risks posed by climate change induced threats, such as severe droughts, floods, cyclones, etc., is of equal importance. To address this issue, the UNDP pavilion held an event on the need for transformational and innovative solutions for climate change adaptation.

The event began with remarks from Saleem Huq from ICCAD, who focused his remarks on how the Green Climate Fund (GCF) could be used as a catalyst for transformational change, but the way they solicit projects with short term funding and a short term outlook prevents the GCF from helping to drive any true transformation. Mr. Huq emphasized that investment in a time bound project cannot be transformational because transformation involves the generational change of societies, and it means investing in the next generation who can deliver on transformation. In line with this, Mr. Huq emphasized the need for a paradigm shift in the GCF to allow room for experimentation and longer term investment in projects for climate change adaptation.

The meeting continued with the Representative from Colombia, highlighting similar issues with the GCF surrounding whether or not it helps to drive transformational change. GCF projects are based on 5-year funding cycles, and it is unlikely that transformational change can be produced in such a short window. The point was also made that there is no common definition surrounding transformation, making projects that could produce transformation difficult to implement when actors do not even agree on a shared vision of transformation.

The meeting concluded with Dr. Robinson, who presented some of her most recent research on climate change resilience and transformation. Her research found that the concept of transformation is donor driven, meaning that the donor agencies, development banks, and multilateral institutions that fund climate and development projects are driving the agenda surrounding transformational change for climate change adaptation. This is problematic because donors typically fund projects on 5-year funding cycles. Dr. Robinson was critical in her analysis of the likelihood for transformational change to take effect in a 5-year time span. This demonstrates that transformational change to meet the adaptation needs of developing countries to deal with the effects of climate change need to take the long view by having longer funding cycles and more inclusion of project recipients in the planning and agenda driving phase.

Meeting: Catalyzing Innovative Solutions and Transformational Adaptation to Climate Change

Date/Location: November 9, 2017, UNDP Pavilion – Bonn Zone, COP 23

Speakers: Mr. Saleem Huq, International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD); Representative of Colombia; Dr. Stacy-Ann Robinson, Brown University

Written By: Marli Kasdan

COP 23 – Focus on Youth and Women Investment in Land to Combat Climate Change

Last week at COP, a side event was held at the UNDP pavilion on youth and women investment in land and natural resources for climate change mitigation, where UN experts, country representatives, and NGO leaders came together to discuss climate change and its strain on food security and smallholder farmers in Africa, and how investment in land is an effective way to combat this issue and make food security more sustainable. The meeting began with Mr. Garrity, the Drylands Ambassador for the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, making a statement on the need to map and collect data on the expansion of farmer managed land practices. He explained how women farmers and youth are using these practices to increase acacia tree cover on their farms, which improves the land quality and provides households with raw materials to harvest from the trees. Next, the Minister of Environment of Ethiopia, Dr. Gemedo, gave a statement on the need for range land restoration in Ethiopia, where technology and market linkages are a priority, along with grassroots level community organization that builds on existing indigenous knowledge for sustainable land management.

The meeting continued with Mr. Hémeryck, the Director General of SOS Sahel, (an NGO that works on land restoration in the Sahel region of Africa) who spoke about SOS Sahel’s work in Ethiopia, where the organization supports 500,000 youth farmers in land rehabilitation, and its work in Burkina Faso, where SOS Sahel supports 8,000 women in their agro-forestry land management system, which improves soil quality and generates income for these women. Mr. Hémeryck stated that their organization does not delegate solutions from the top down, rather they work to support farmer-driven initiatives. Furthermore, Ms. Watanabe, the Global Manager for UNDP’s Small Grants Program (SGP), announced its new partnership with SOS Sahel, where the two organizations will work closely to improve sustainable land management and agro-ecology through community based solutions.

Next, another partnership was announced by the representative from Burkina Faso, who reported on Burkina Faso’s partnership with SOS Sahel to work together on programs for mobilization of resources, development of service centers, and land regeneration techniques. The meeting concluded with the SGP Advisor on Land Degradation, Forest Management, and Community Based Adaptation giving a statement on SGP’s main areas of work, which include $135 million in grants and more than $152 million in co-financing to support projects in the areas of agro-ecology and agro-business, sustainable forest management, technology for water and energy use production systems, and pasture rehabilitation and rangeland management. As the effects of climate change in the Sahel region become more severe with an increase in the frequency and intensity of droughts that cause food crises and collapse of ecosystems, sustainable land management will continue to be of the utmost importance for improving livelihoods in the Sahel region.

Meeting: Youth and Women Investing in Land and Value Addition on Natural Resources to Mitigate Climate Change

Date/Location: November 9, 2017, 4:30 – 6:00, UNDP Pavilion – Bonn Zone, COP 23

Speakers: Mr. Dennis Garrity, Drylands Ambassador for the UN Convention to Combat Desertification; Dr. Gemedo Dale, Minister of Environmental, Forest, and Climate Change of Ethiopia; Rémi Hémeryck, Director General, SOS Sahel; Ms. Yoko Watanabe, Global Manger, Small Grants Program (UNDP); Representative from Burkina Faso, National Coordinator of the Great Green Wall Initiative; Small Grants Program, Advisor on Land Degradation, Forest Management, and Community Based Adaptation (UNDP)

Written By: Marli Kasdan

Focus on Least Developed Countries at COP 23

COP 23

COP 23 – the UN yearly climate change conference kicked off in Bonn, Germany last week, where heads of state, NGOs, academics, and private sector partners all came together to discuss the threat of climate change and solutions to keep global average temperature rise below 1.5-2 degrees Celsius. One of the primary issues at the conference is how least developed countries (LDCs) should deal with climate change – a problem they had little hand in creating, yet suffer dis-proportionally from. The Least Developed Countries Expert Group (LEG) was formed at COP 7 in Marrakesh to help LDCs navigate the issue of climate change within the climate negotiations. To give an update on their work, the LEG met the first day of COP to discuss their work in supporting LDCs on adaptation.

According to the UNFCCC, adaptation “refers to adjustments in ecological, social, or economic systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli and their effects or impacts.” With this definition as a background, the meeting began with Mr. Jewber, Chair of the LDC, who stressed that adaptation is a priority for vulnerable countries to climate change, yet finance, technology, and capacity for adaptation activities are extremely limited. Most climate finance is skewed towards mitigation, or reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), rather than adaptation. Mr. Santana, a member of the LEG, continued the meeting by discussing the LEG’s vision to provide support to countries to achieve better adaptation planning and processes in their National Adaptation Plans (NAPs), with finance from the Green Climate Fund (GCF). Thus far, GCF approval rates for NAP funding have been incredibly slow – only 5 NAPs have been approved so far and only 2 have actually received their GCF funds (Liberia and Nepal), although other countries’ NAPs are in the pipeline for approval.

Mr. Jariu from the GCF Secretariat responded by saying that the GCF has received 38 NAP proposals as of October 2017, with 15 of these coming from LDCs, and that the GCF is focusing on quality of planning and increased guidance and knowledge sharing in its review and approval of NAPs. Next, the UNFCCC Secretariat made a statement affirming its support for the work of the LEG, and the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) gave a statement outlining its 24 projects that are in the pipeline for implementation in LDCs in the amount of $170.5 million. The meeting concluded with a representative from The Gambia who gave his view on adaptation planning and finance, which included challenges related to low financing and weak national capacity for implementation. Issues surrounding adaptation financing at COP will continue to be a highly debated topic, and LDCs will only be able to meet their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement if appropriate funding that includes more finance for adaptation is mobilized.

Meeting: Work of the Least Developed Countries Expert Group (LEG) in Supporting the LDCs on Adaptation

Date/Location: November 7, 2017, 6:30 – 8:00, Room 9 – Bonn Zone, COP 23

Speakers: Gerbru Jewber, Chair of the LDC; Aderito Santana, Member of the LEG; Pa Ousman Jarju, GCF Secretariat; Chizuru Aoki, GEF Secretariat; Alpha Jallow, Representative from The Gambia

Written By: Marli Kasdan