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Regional governments are not only key in climate change action, but also in the preservation of biodiversity in their territories, and thus to the achievement of the related SDGs.

RegionsAdapt aims to inspire and support regional governments to act, collaborate and report efforts on climate change adaptation.

In alignment with SDG 17, regional government can help enable the partnerships among national and local governments, businesses, financial institutions, civil society and academia.

On 30 January 2017, nrg4SD – the Network of Regional Governments for Sustainable Development, with support of CDP, launched the ‘RegionsAdapt 2016 Report: An assessment of risks and actions.’ The report portrays the assessment of physical, water supply and socioeconomic risks associated with climate change, as well as the adaptation responses of 27 regional governments, all members of the RegionsAdapt initiative.

The document celebrates the first year of the initiative, launched during the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the UNFCCC in Paris. RegionsAdapt aims to inspire and support regional governments to act, collaborate and report efforts on climate change adaptation. Reporting data annually through CDP’s states and regions platform is thus one of three commitments that RegionsAdapt members agreed by joining the initiative.

The creation of the RegionsAdapt was also envisaged to support the efforts of regional governments in pursuing the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Considering most of the SDGs and targets are directly or indirectly related to the daily work of local and regional governments, the initiative focuses on SDG 13, on the need for urgent action on climate change, and especially target 13.3 on building resilience and adaptation capacities.

In this regard, the first RegionsAdapt report shows that current or anticipated impacts of climate change present physical risks to all the 27 disclosing governments. In total, 128 physical risks were identified, most of them either considered as serious or extremely serious. Nevertheless, regional governments are determined to tackle these adverse effects: more than 150 different adaptation measures taken were described. Such measures include a broad variety of actions, ranging from awareness campaigns and community engagement, to technical solutions, such as storm water capture systems, as well as holistic approaches, like mainstreaming climate change into all policy sectors.

The assessment of risks to water supply reveals that around 70% of reporting regional governments face substantive threats. Increased water stress or scarcity was the main concern, mostly perceived as a serious or extremely serious threat. In accordance with the risks identified, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development set the SDG 6, which relates to ensuring water and sanitation access and sustainable management. In order to increase the resilience of their water supply systems, contributing to the progress towards SDG 6, regional governments implement a variety of adaptation actions within their territories.

Regional governments are key to climate adaptation, with a unique perspective on issues such as water supply, food security or rural-urban linkages.

According to the results of the report, climate change not only affects societies physically, but also socio-economically. The majority of disclosing governments stated that climate change threatens the ability of businesses to operate successfully in their regions. Structural damages due to extreme events, such as floods and changes in the seasonality of climate – an impact that especially affects the agricultural sector – were a widely-reported problem. Moreover, 21 out of the 27 disclosing governments reported that they are already facing or are going to face social risks related to climate change. These may aggravate existing problems, including increasing the public health system demand. Other issues relate to deteriorating economic conditions, such as higher unemployment rates resulting from the impact of climate change on the agricultural and industrial sectors.

The data collected therefore highlights the cross-cutting nature of climate adaptation, and thus how it will be needed to also achieve SDG 2, on ending hunger, or SDG 9, on resilient infrastructure and sustainable industrialization. In this context, regional governments are key to climate adaptation, with a unique perspective on issues such as water supply, food security or rural-urban linkages.

Moreover, regions are particularly well-positioned to integrate efforts at the local and national levels, coordinating actions among municipalities and offering innovative approaches to national efforts on the SDGs. Regional governments hold legal responsibilities and authority over key aspects of policy that directly affect issues related to sustainable development, inter alia, water management, energy, agriculture and territorial planning. they are thus key partners in pursuing SDGs 6 and 13, but also SDG 7 on clean energies or SDG 11 on sustainable cities.

Besides, regional governments benefit from a scale of policy development and implementation that allows quicker action and greater experimentation. Through their proximity to their populations, they are well positioned to identify the needs and strengths of their societies, accordingly providing thoughtful recommendations on innovative solutions. Hence, their intermediary position is fundamental to build the widely urged multi-stakeholder partnerships in the 2030 Agenda framework. In alignment with SDG 17, regional government can help enable the partnerships among national and local governments, businesses, financial institutions, civil society and academia. That lays the foundation for greater inclusiveness and benefit-sharing.

RegionsAdapt also ensures synergies with other like-minded initiatives, works with the UNFCCC to ensure that relevant data collected on regional governments’ climate action is fed into the Convention’s calls for contributions, and is also listed in the UN Partnerships for SDGs online platform.

With those unique characteristics, regional governments are not only key in climate change action, but also in the preservation of biodiversity in their territories, and thus to the achievement of the related SDGs. In the UN biodiversity framework, nrg4SD acts as Co-Chair to the Advisory Committee of Subnational Governments, according to CBD Decision X/22. Furthermore, on the occasion of the CBD COP 13 in Cancun, nrg4SD launched the Regions for Biodiversity Platform – a worldwide initiative tailored and built by and for regional governments that aims at promoting mutual learning, technical exchange and peer-review, especially on practices related to the subnational implementation of the CBD Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the Aichi Targets, and strategies to achieve SDGs 14 and 15, which are concerned with biodiversity on land and in oceans. The Regions for Biodiversity Platform is based on the previous experience of a pilot project developed from May to November 2016 with five regional governments from three continents.

All these interconnected themes will be especially important for the implementation and achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the subnational level. With key competences on territorial planning and the provision of basic services, regional governments should seek coordination, collaboration and coherence with national governments and relevant stakeholders towards the achievement of the SDGs. Again in this agenda, nrg4SD will support members and facilitate exchanges on possible subnational actions on the global Goals.

About nrg4SD – Secretariat of RegionsAdapt

The Network of Regional Governments for Sustainable Development – nrg4SD – was established in 2002, and currently has 57 members from 29 countries in four continents. The Network acts in three main fields: sustainable development, biodiversity and climate change. It seeks greater international recognition of regional governments, especially in the context of the global agendas at UN and EU levels. In addition, nrg4SD promotes cooperation among members, fostering exchange of information, know-how and best practices. In the field of climate change, nrg4SD runs RegionsAdapt, an initiative to inspire and support regional governments to act, collaborate and report efforts on climate change adaptation. Launched at UNFCCC COP 21, the initiative expanded from 27 founding members to 69 members from all continents. More information: www.nrg4SD.org / regionsadapt@nrg4sd.org / #RegionsAdapt [RegionsAdapt 2016 Report: An Assessment of Risks and Actions]

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