The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and accompanying targets, has made it clear that climate change and sustainable development are inextricably linked.
May 2016 news relating to adaptation and loss and damage brought out some of those interlinkages with particular prominence.
Not only do events, publications and initiatives reported here contribute to the implementation of SDG 13 (Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts) generally, they also help implement a range of other SDGs and related targets.
31 May 2016: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and accompanying targets, has made it clear that climate change and sustainable development are inextricably linked. May 2016 news relating to adaptation and loss and damage brought out some of those interlinkages with particular prominence. Not only do events, publications and initiatives reported here contribute to the implementation of SDG 13 (Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts) generally, they also help implement a range of other SDGs and related targets.
For example, the various initiatives relating to extreme weather events and disaster preparedness, as well as those to do with agriculture, including gender dimensions, advance the implementation of: target 5.1 on building resilience and adaptive capacity of the poor to climate-related extreme events; target 2.4 on food production systems that strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters; and SDG 5 (Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls) and target 13.b on raising capacity for effective climate change planning and management, including focusing on women.
Other SDGs and targets that May 2016 initiatives help implement include: target 14.3 on minimizing and addressing the impacts of ocean acidification; target 13.3 on improving education and awareness of climate change; target 10.7 on migration and mobility, including the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies; and SDG 16 (Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies).
April Temperatures Break Records; UN Cites Climate Change among Factors Impacting Stability, Urges El Niño Impacts Reduction; WHO Announces Most Polluted Cities
May’s events were cast against the background of scientific reports of an increase in the growth rate of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), new temperature records, the World Health Organization (WHO) announcement of the world’s most polluted cities and the UN urging coherent global action to address El Niño.
According to the Tenth Annual Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Index (AGGI) released by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in the past 25 years, human activity has increased the direct warming effect of CO2 in the atmosphere by 50% above pre-industrial levels. According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), a recent strong increase in the growth rate of atmospheric CO2 has tipped its concentrations in the Southern Hemisphere over the 400 ppm mark, which the Earth’s Northern half breached in 2014-2015.
The news of rapid growth in atmospheric CO2 levels was compounded by NOAA reports of April 2016 breaking global temperature records for the 12th consecutive month – the longest such streak in 137 years of record keeping. The WMO attributes these trends to increased emissions from fossil fuels and to the impacts of the recent strong El Niño – the warming of sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific, which occurs roughly every two to seven years and lasts from six months to two years. [NOAA Annual Greenhouse Gas Index] [NOAA Press Release on CO2 Warming Effect] [WMO Press Release on CO2 breaching Milestone] [NOAA April 2016 Report] [NOAA Global Summary Information – April 2016] [WMO Press Release on April 2016 Breaking Records]
On 6 May 2016, the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) held a special meeting themed ‘Impacts of the 2015/16 El Niño phenomenon: Reducing risks and capturing opportunities.’ In his presidential statement, ECOSOC President Oh Joon underscored that, as a matter of priority, El Niño impacts must be reduced by implementing the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 and the Paris Agreement in a coherent and integrated manner. [ECOSOC Meeting Webpage] [UN Press Release] [UNISDR Press Release] [Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction Webpage] [Paris Agreement] [IISD RS Story on the ECOSOC Event]
El Niño is also the subject of the May 2016 working draft of a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) titled ‘2015-2016 El Niño: Early action and response for agriculture, food security and nutrition,’ which provides an overview of the impacts of the El Niño phenomenon on agriculture and food security. The report highlights current consequences at global, regional and country levels, including data on crop and livestock production, and food insecure people, as well as FAO actions and funding requirements. [2015-2016 El Niño: Early Action and Response for Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition] [FAO Report Webpage]
Concerns over urban air quality were sounded by the WHO. The Organization reported that over 80% of people living in urban areas that monitor air pollution are exposed to air quality levels that do not meet WHO air quality guidelines. In high-income countries, 56% of cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants exceed WHO limits. In low- and middle income countries the numbers are as high as 98%.
Ambient air pollution causes more than three million premature deaths worldwide every year. While urban air pollution is rising at an ‘alarming’ rate, more cities are monitoring their air quality and raising awareness. “Reducing air pollution also brings an added climate bonus,” said Carlos Dora, WHO Coordinator for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health, suggesting that air quality regulations can become an element of countries’ nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement. [WHO Global Urban Ambient Air Pollution Database] [WHO Press Release] [Climate Action Press Release]
Bonn Climate Change Talks, Adaptation Forum Focus on Adaptation Planning, Reporting, Implementation and Support; Brazil Submits NAP
While scientists sounded alarms over the rising temperatures, national adaptation planning and support came to the fore as the climate talks under the UNFCCC focused on the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
The 44th sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 44) and Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 44), and the first session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA 1) took place in Bonn, Germany, from 16-26 May 2016. Outcomes adopted by SBI 44 in relation to adaptation included conclusions on national adaptation plans (NAPs) (FCCC/SBI/2016/L.9), in which the SBI emphasizes the centrality of NAPs in enhancing adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change with a view to contributing to sustainable development in the broader context of the global goal on adaptation referred to in Article 7 of the Paris Agreement.
In its conclusions on matters relating to the LDCs (FCCC/SBI/2016/L.6), the SBI welcomes the LEG’s two-year rolling work programme and the vision developed by the LEG to guide the LEG’s work in supporting adaptation in the LDCs. The rolling work programme of the LEG for 2016-2017 consists of ten work areas, including: supporting the Paris Agreement; supporting the SBI’s assessment of progress made in the formulation and implementation of NAPs; engaging with the Green Climate Fund (GCF) on accessing funding to formulate and implement NAPs; monitoring and evaluation of progress, effectiveness, gaps and adequacy in the process to formulate and implement NAPs; and advancing NAPs through technical guidance and support.
Adaptation-related conclusions adopted by SBI 44 also included those on the third review of the Adaptation Fund (FCCC/SBI/2016/L.5) and gender and climate change (FCCC/SBI/2016/L.16).
SBSTA 44 adopted conclusions on the Nairobi work programme on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change (NWP) (FCCC/SBSTA/2016/L.9).
APA 1 adopted conclusions inviting, by 30 September 2016, Parties’ views on, among other items, further guidance in relation to the adaptation communication, including as a component of NDCs (FCCC/APA/2016/L.3). [SBI 44 In-session Documents Webpage] [SBSTA 44 In-session Documents Webpage] [APA 1 In-session Documents Webpage] [Paris Agreement] [Detailed Work Programme of the LEG for 2016-2017] [LEG’s 2016-2017 Work Programme Webpage]
Two technical expert meetings on adaptation (TEM-As) convened during the Bonn Climate Change Conference. The TEM-A on enhancing the implementation of adaptation action, held on 24 May 2016, focused on: gaps, needs, challenges, options and opportunities for implementation on the ground; means of implementation (MOI), including for the improvement of climate information services and understanding of scientific information at the national level; and good practices for reducing vulnerability.
The TEM-A on effective policy frameworks and institutional arrangements for adaptation planning and implementation, including for multi-level governance, and monitoring and evaluation, took place on 25 May 2015.
The two TEM-As were part of the technical examination process on adaptation (TEP-A) established at the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the UNFCCC as part of enhanced pre-2020 action. The process seeks to identify concrete opportunities for strengthening resilience, reducing vulnerabilities, and increasing the understanding and implementation of adaptation actions. TEP-A is organized by the UNFCCC Subsidiary Bodies (SBs), and conducted by the Adaptation Committee (AC). The umbrella topic for the 2016 TEP-A is ‘Reducing vulnerability and mainstreaming climate change adaptation, including through the process to formulate and implement NAPs.’ [TEM-A on Enhancing Implementation of Adaptation Action Webpage] [TEM-A on Effective Policy Frameworks Webpage] [Decision Adopting Paris Agreement]
On 17 May 2016, the AC held a side event on establishing a partnership platform with regional centers to provide technical support on adaptation to developing countries. Introducing a proposal to create such a partnership platform, the Committee provided a brief overview of its previous work on technical support and of activities undertaken by partner organizations of the NWP. Speakers representing regional centers and networks highlighted areas and gaps of technical support to developing countries and introduced various collaboration modalities to address those gaps. Participants also considered, among others: gaps a partnership platform should fill; incentives to participate in such a partnership for national, regional and international organizations; and current and potential modalities for channeling requests for technical support from the country to the center or network. [AC Side Event Webpage] [Overview of Objectives of the Event] [Overview of Technical Support Activities]
The AC also organized the Third Adaptation Forum, which took place in conjunction with the Adaptation Futures 2016 conference in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, on 12 May 2016. Themed ‘Adaptation under the UNFCCC after the Paris Agreement,’ the Forum aimed to reach out to stakeholders to gather insights, knowledge and experiences on adaptation action and support, as well as to inform conference participants of, and receive input on, the adaptation aspects of the Paris Agreement. The main conclusion of the Forum was that more clarity is needed on how to recognize and review measures to build resilience, including with the help of comparable methodologies, to ensure full implementation of the adaptation provisions of the Paris Agreement. [Adaptation Forum Webpage] [UNFCCC Press Release] [Adaptation Workshops and Meetings Webpage] [IISD RS Story on Adaptation Futures 2016 Conference]
During the Bonn Climate Change Conference, the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) Expert Group (LEG) held a side event to discuss the LDCs’ experiences and progress made in addressing adaptation, as well as support provided to them. The event focused on the process to formulate and implement NAPs, and on the national adaptation programmes of action (NAPAs). Participants addressed, inter alia: the LEG’s 2016-2017 work programme and vision for supporting adaptation in the LDCs; progress made by the LDCs on the formulation of NAPs; adaptation support provided to the LDCs; and gaps and needs related to technical support for the LDCs in the post-Paris era. [LEG Side Event Webpage] [LEG Side Event Programme]
On 25 May 2016, the UNFCCC Secretariat announced that the LEG will also organize, in collaboration with various bodies and organizations, the NAP Expo 2016, under the theme ‘Advancing National Adaptation Plans post-Paris’ in Bonn, Germany, from 11-15 July 2016. The event will consist of two days of specialized events, and three days of plenary and breakout group sessions for participants to deliberate on ways to advance NAPs. NAP Expo 2016 will provide space for exhibitions showcasing progress made by, and information on support provided to, developing countries for the formulation and implementation of NAPs.
The NAP Expo is an annual outreach event that promotes the exchange of experiences and fosters partnerships between a wide range of actors and stakeholders on how to advance NAPs. It brings together national leaders and policy makers, as well as representatives from the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the Global Environment Facility (GEF), UN agencies, international organizations, regional centers and networks, scientists, practitioners and other stakeholders. Registration is open on a first come first served basis until 10 June 2016 through http://unfccc.int/9547 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. [NAP Expo 2016 Information Note] [NAP Expo 2016 Webpage] [NAP Central Website] [IISD RS Sources]
In related news, Brazil became the third Party to submit its NAP (currently available in Portuguese only) through the UNFCCC NAP Central. In addition to Brazil, one LDC (Burkina Faso) and one other non-LDC (Cameroon) have shared their NAPs through the NAP Central. [UNFCCC NAP Central] [Brazil’s NAP Executive Summary]
National as well as international adaptation reporting was highlighted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Climate Change Expert Group (CCXG) in its report titled ‘Communicating Progress in National and Global Adaptation to Climate Change.’ The publication explores elements of countries’ adaptation responses that could be reported under the Paris Agreement in order to better communicate efforts towards enhanced adaptation and resilience, while avoiding an undue reporting burden. The report addresses, inter alia: the adaptation component of intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs); COP 21 outcomes on adaptation communications and transparency; benefits of national and international reporting; ways to build on the experiences gained from communicating national adaptation information under the UNFCCC; proposals for national adaptation communications’ structure and content; and options for communicating global progress on adaptation. [Communicating Progress in National and Global Adaptation to Climate Change] [Communicating Progress in National and Global Adaptation to Climate Change – Expanded Summary] [OECD CCXG Recent Publications Webpage]
Loss and Damage Committee Highlights Slow Onset Events, Non-economic Losses; Initiatives Advance Work on Climate Resilience, Disaster Response
The Executive Committee (ExCom) of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts (WIM) held a side event on the margins of the Bonn Climate Change Conference on challenges, risks and lessons learned for addressing non-economic losses associated with climate change impacts. The event aimed to: raise awareness and understanding of the nature and extent of non-economic losses; put a spotlight on some of the challenges and risks that non-economic losses pose to developing countries; and highlight some of the lessons learned associated with addressing non-economic losses, including how to integrate measures to reduce the risk of non-economic losses in addressing loss and damage. [ExCom Side Event Webpage]
At the eighth meeting of the SBSTA Research Dialogue that took place on 19 May 2016, the ExCom also presented two posters highlighting, respectively: action area 3 of its initial two-year workplan (Enhance data on, and knowledge of the risks of, slow onset events and their impacts, and identify ways forward on approaches to address slow onset events associated with the adverse effects of climate change with specific focus on potential impacts, within countries and regions); and opportunities for collaboration with the ExCom on slow onset events, and the ExCom’s Paris mandate (to establish a clearinghouse for risk transfer and a task force to address climate change-related displacement). [ExCom Poster on Action Area 3] [ExCom Poster on Catalyzing Further Action] [ExCom Slow Onset Events Webpage] [Eighth Meeting of SBSTA Research Dialogue Webpage]
The issue of slow onset events gained additional prominence in the past month as the fourth International Symposium on the Ocean in a High-CO2 World, held in Hobart, Australia, from 3-6 May 2016, addressed the impacts of ocean acidification, and an online tool was launched in Australia that maps how cities, towns and beaches could be affected by the rising sea levels under three scientifically-backed climate change scenarios. [Fourth International Symposium on the Ocean in a High-CO2 World Website] [UNESCO Press Release on Fourth International Symposium] [UNFCCC Press Release on Australian Web Tool]
Over the past few weeks, various actors advanced work on extreme weather events and natural disasters, including: resilience and disaster preparedness; disaster risk management (DRM) and disaster insurance; and disaster response.
For example, during the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) convened in Istanbul, Turkey, from 23-24 May 2016, the Vulnerable Twenty (V20) Group of Ministers of Finance of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, representing 43 high-risk developing countries, launched a Global Preparedness Partnership (GPP) to strengthen preparedness capacities for disasters. The GPP aims to help countries and communities attain a minimum level of readiness by 2020 for future disaster risks mainly caused by climate change. Other GPP collaborators include the FAO, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Bank Group’s (WBG) Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR). The partnership is expected to become operational later in 2016. [WHS Website] [Chair’s Summary: Standing up for Humanity: Committing to Action] [UNDP Press Release] [FAO Press Release] [IISD-RS Story on WHS]
Other DRM initiatives launched during the WHS included the ‘Connecting Business Initiative’ and WFP-announced donor support for the African Risk Capacity (ARC) Replica insurance policies.
Led by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), OCHA and UNDP, the ‘Connecting Business Initiative’ brought together 11 national private sector networks committing to better link private sector skills and resources before, during and after emergencies. The Initiative aims to support as many as 40 private sector-led networks for DRR, emergency preparedness, response and recovery.
Support for the ARC Replica insurance policies comes from the Government of Denmark and is expected to be supplemented by the European Commission. In 2012, WFP helped the African Union (AU) create ARC – a specialized agency to help AU Member States improve their capacities to better plan, prepare and respond to extreme weather events and natural disasters, including through a sovereign disaster insurance pool. A total of 32 African States have signed the ARC treaty and ARC has insured seven countries over the last two years with coverage of over US$300 million. [WHS Website] [Chair’s Summary: Standing up for Humanity: Committing to Action] [UNISDR Press Release] [UNDP Press Release]
On 25 May 2016, following a session on Climate and Disaster Risk Financing at the African Development Bank (AfDB) Annual Meetings in Lusaka, Zambia, ARC also signed a partnership agreement with the AfDB to work together on planning, preparation and response to extreme weather events and natural disasters in Africa. [WFP Press Release]
Disaster resilience is the subject of the publication ‘Disaster-Resilient Microfinance: Learning from Communities Affected by Typhoon Haiyan’ issued by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and partners. The report analyzes the economic recovery of over 4,000 households in the Philippines affected by typhoon Haiyan that ravaged the country in November 2013, and explores how microfinance can improve its role prior to, and in the aftermath of, such disasters. [Disaster-Resilient Microfinance: Learning from Communities Affected by Typhoon Haiyan] [ADB Press Release]
On 21 May 2016, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Global Adaptation Network (GAN) held its seventh annual Adaptation Knowledge Day in Bonn, Germany. Participants considered: the future of adaptation; assessing the effectiveness of adaptation; climate risk insurance; the UN’s A2R (anticipate, absorb, reshape) initiative on climate resilience; and private finance for adaptation. [GAN Upcoming Meetings Webpage] [IISD RS Sources]
Climate-induced Migration and Conflict, Agriculture, Gender Issues Enter Spotlight
Other issues to receive attention in the past month include migration and conflict as consequences of climate change stressors, climate change-driven water scarcity as a factor impacting stability, agriculture and gender.
On 10 May 2016, at the UN Headquarters in New York, US, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) held a briefing under the theme ‘Migration, Environment and Climate Change: Celebrating the signature of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.’ Organized as a follow up to the High-Level Signature Ceremony for the Paris Agreement on climate change of 22 April 2016 and in preparation for UNFCCC COP 22, which is to take place in Marrakech, Morocco, from 7-18 November 2016, the briefing aimed to support and inform States on climate migration-related issues. Topics discussed included: climate migration in the Paris Agreement; migration as an adaptation strategy; and using the human mobility perspective for addressing a range of policy issues. [IOM Briefing Webpage] [IOM Briefing Concept Note] [IOM Briefing Key Messages and Conclusions]
During the Bonn Climate Change Conference, on 17 May 2016, the IOM and UN University (UNU) organized a side event titled ‘Human Mobility and the Paris Agreement: What’s Next?’ The event highlighted the importance of reliable data to measure climate migration. [UNFCCC Press Release] [UNFCCC Side Events and Exhibits Webpage]
A WBG publication, released on 3 May 2016, underscored the links between migration, conflict and water scarcity. Titled ‘High and Dry: Climate Change, Water, and the Economy,’ the report finds that water scarcity, exacerbated by climate change, could hinder economic growth, spur migration and spark conflict. It outlines policies and investments that can help countries boost water security and climate resilience. [High and Dry: Climate Change, Water, and the Economy] [Executive Summary] [Key Findings] [WBG Press Release]
Water scarcity was also the subject of a science initiative pioneered by the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science, which aims to increase rainfall in arid and semi-arid regions around the world and promote water security, attracted numerous research proposals from the international scientific community. [UAE Research Program Press Release] [WMO Press Release]
At a UN Security Council meeting of 26 May 2016 on the situation in the Sahel region of sub-Saharan Africa, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and Head of the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA), highlighted climate change as a factor increasing drought and fueling conflict in the region, thereby affecting its security, development and stability. Jean-Paul Laborde, Executive Director of the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), also emphasized climate change as an ‘aggravator’ of conflict and violent extremism in the region. [UN Press Release] [UN News] [Ibn Chambas Speech]
Agriculture, including gender aspects, was the topic of two SBSTA in-session workshops convened during the Bonn Climate Change Conference, as well as several publications released ahead of the May climate talks.
The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) published an analysis of parties’ submissions to SBSTA 44 on adaptation and agriculture, calling for more holistic approaches to agriculture. Having analyzed 25 available submissions, the brief finds that, among others: previous in-session agriculture workshops did not place enough emphasis on critical stakeholders, such as small-scale food producers, food-insecure households and women; adaptation measures’ social and environmental aspects should be separated from those relating to productivity, food security and resilience creates risks; and gender relations and inequalities play a crucial role in structuring and differentiating climate change vulnerabilities among women and men. The brief concludes that the SBSTA should establish a work programme for determining how agriculture will fit into the new climate regime. [More Holistic Approaches to Agriculture Needed: An Analysis of Submissions to SBSTA 44 on Agriculture and Adaptation] [CIFOR Publication Webpage]
On 20 May 2016, the SBSTA held a workshop on the identification of adaptation measures, taking into account the diversity of the agricultural systems, indigenous knowledge systems and the differences in scale, as well as possible co-benefits and sharing experiences in research and development and on the ground activities, including socioeconomic, environmental and gender aspects. Another SBSTA workshop, held on 23 May 2016, focused on the identification and assessment of agricultural practices and technologies to enhance productivity in a sustainable manner, food security and resilience, considering the differences in agro-ecological zones and farming systems, such as different grassland and cropland practices and systems. Issues addressed during the two workshops included: country experiences with the identification of adaptation measures in the context of agriculture, and with the identification and assessment of agricultural practices and technologies to enhance productivity in a sustainable manner, food security and resilience; ways in which various processes under the Convention facilitate such identification and assessment; and potential areas for synergies among those processes. [Workshop on Identification of Adaptation Measures Webpage] [Workshop on Identification of Adaptation Measures Agenda] [Workshop on Identification of Adaptation Measures Information Note] [Workshop on Identification and Assessment of Agricultural Practices Webpage] [Workshop on Identification and Assessment of Agricultural Practices Agenda] [Workshop on Identification and Assessment of Agricultural Practices Information Note]