Adaptation and Loss and Damage Update: Polar Sea Ice at Record Low, Climate Change a “Security Story”
UN Photo/Martine Perret
story highlights

In light of the numerous reports of negative impacts of climate change, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa urged participants of the annual Munich Security Conference to consider climate change as a “security story” with far-reaching implications for global peace and stability.

In preparation for the 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, the UN University Institute for Environment and Human Security released a series of reports on how SIDS could get adaptation support, including help to migrate, under the Paris Agreement on climate change.

February 2017: Recent reports of waning Polar sea ice volumes and persisting droughts in Africa have added to a long list of damaging climate change impacts occurring over the past months.

In this context, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa dubbed climate change a “security story,” with possible repercussions for global peace. Some recent initiatives have focused on, inter alia, climate change-induced migration, urban resilience and food security. A panel event explored the interrelationship among gender, age, health, crisis and climate. The present Update outlines these and other developments relating to climate change adaptation, loss and damage, and resilience.

Rising Temperatures Bring Polar Sea Ice to Record Lows, Drought Grips Africa

The past weeks saw new reports of widespread damaging impacts of climate change. The Arctic witnessed the Polar equivalent of a heatwave on at least three occasions over the winter months, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Record low sea ice volumes have been recorded for the month of January, both for the Arctic and the Antarctic. [WMO Press Release] [UN Press Release]

Due to warming temperatures, a crack in Antarctica’s fourth-largest ice shelf grew by ten kilometers, bringing its total length to 175 kilometers. Project MIDAS, a research consortium located at Swansea University and Aberystwyth University in Wales, UK, warns that, when it calves, the ice front of the Larsen C Ice Shelf will find itself at its most retreated position ever recorded. According to scientists, this event will fundamentally change the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula. [MIDAS Project Press Release]

Most countries in the Greater Horn of Africa – a region comprised of Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda – are expected to receive below average rainfall in the March to May 2017 rainy season. According to the 45th Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum (GHACOF), this will affect food security and water availability in countries already seriously hit by drought. [Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook March – May 2017] [Statement by IGAD Executive Secretary Mahboub Maalim] [WMO Press Release] [UNISDR Press Release]

Climate Change as “Security Story,” Threatened Species Affected

In light of the numerous reports of negative impacts of climate change, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa urged participants of the annual Munich Security Conference held in Germany, from 17-19 February 2017, to consider climate change as a “security story” with far-reaching implications for global peace and stability. [UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa’s Address at Munich Security Conference] [Munich Security Conference 2017 Website]

Meanwhile, BirdLife International, Wildlife Conservation Society and others concluded that it is likely that negative impacts of climate change are already being experienced by numerous threatened species. In an article addressing those impacts, scientists urge conservation managers, planners and policy makers to take their findings into account in their efforts to safeguard the future of biodiversity. [Species’ Traits Influenced Their Response to Recent Climate Change] [WCS Press Release]

Climate Migration, Urban Resilience in the Spotlight

In preparation for the 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP 23), the UN University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) released a series of reports on how small island developing States (SIDS) could get adaptation support, including help to migrate, under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. [Tuvalu: Climate Change and Migration Relationships between Household Vulnerability, Human Mobility and Climate Change] [Nauru: Climate Change and Migration Relationships between Household Vulnerability, Human Mobility and Climate Change] [Kiribati: Climate Change and Migration Relationships between Household Vulnerability, Human Mobility and Climate Change] [UNFCCC Press Release] [Paris Agreement on Climate Change]

In related news, the UK Overseas Development Institute (ODI) published a working paper titled ‘Mass displacement and the challenge for urban resilience,’ addressing various forms of migration in response to different pressures, including disasters, conflict and climate change. [Mass Displacement and the Challenge for Urban Resilience] [Publication Landing Page] [ODI Risk and Resilience Webpage] [WeADAPT Press Release]

Initiatives Target Gender Dimension of Climate Change, Food Security

Norway, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and partners organized an event titled ‘Gathering Storm: Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health in Climate-induced Humanitarian Settings’ at UN Headquarters in New York, US, on 16 February 2017. The event addressed the gender-age-health-crisis-climate nexus, concluding, among others, that: climate impacts on health are rapidly multiplying; early warnings are failing to generate spending on prevention; more funding is needed to ensure that health systems in the highest-risk areas can provide services to women, children and adolescents during crises; forecast-based financing is a “promising innovation” to address climate risks; and consultation with women and young people in climate risk and disaster zones must take place to ensure that their actual needs are addressed. [IISD Sources]

In other gender-related news, a policy brief and an information note by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) analyze the current state of gender inclusion in policies related to climate change, agriculture and food security in Latin America. [Inclusión del enfoque de género en políticas de cambio climático: Un análisis de siete países latinoamericanos] [Publication Landing Page] [CCAFS Press Release] [Gender [Im]Balance in Productive and Reproductive Labor among Livestock Producers in Colombia: Implications for Climate Change Responses] [Publication Landing Page]

Also on climate change and food security, CCAFS has released two information notes that focus on these issues in East Africa. [Integrating Climate Change in Agriculture and Food Security Policies and Strategies] [Publication Landing Page] [CCAFS Press Release] [Building Adaptive Capacity and Improving Food Security in Semi-Arid Eastern Kenya] [Publication Landing Page] [CCAFS Press Release]

The international community also turned the spotlight on food systems and smallholder farmers resilience to climate change. Speaking at the World Government Summit taking place in Dubai, UAE, from 12-14 February 2017, Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) Director-General José Graziano da Silva warned that failure to enhance food systems resilience to climate change will “seriously compromise” food production in many regions and could doom to failure international efforts to end hunger and extreme poverty by 2030. [FAO Press Release] [UN Press Release] [World Government Summit Website]

A Statement of Intent between the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), signed on 13 February 2017, undertakes to enhance resilience to climate change and improve the livelihoods of thousands of smallholder farmers around the world. [CIAT Press Release]

Preparations for DRR Global Platform Underway, Regions Spur Resilience

The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and Mexico held two briefings on the 2017 Global Platform for DRR scheduled to take place in Cancun, Mexico, from 22-26 May 2017. A ‘Briefing on the 2017 Global Platform for DRR’ and a briefing on ‘Preparation for the fifth session of the Global Platform for DRR’ took place at UN Headquarters in New York, US, in February 2017. [IISD RS Sources]

The Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) set out a disaster risk management (DRM) and climate change action plan to be implemented over the course of 2017. The ECCAS includes Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Rwanda, and São Tomé and Príncipe. [UNISDR Press Release] [ECCAS Website]

Europe launched a project titled ‘Increasing Resilience of Cultural Heritage’ (ResCult) to protect its heritage sites from the risk of disasters. [UNISDR Press Release]

The 49th session of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)/WMO Typhoon Committee, which convened in Yokohama, Japan, from 21-24 February 2017, discussed improvements in forecasting tropical cyclones and reducing associated hazards to life and property. [WMO Press Release] [ESCAP/WMO Typhoon Committee Website]

The Philippines’ National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) called on local governments in the country’s Eastern Visayas area to join UNISDR’s Making Cities Resilient campaign to enable communities to withstand natural and human-induced hazards. [UNISDR Press Release] [UNISDR Making Cities Resilient Website]

Adaptation Projects News

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) and partners released a photo book titled ‘Supporting Moldova’s National Climate Change Adaptation Planning Process.’ [Supporting Moldova’s National Climate Change Adaptation Planning Process]

A climate change adaptation project for Tonga, supported by the Government of Tonga, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), UNDP, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and partners is expected to be brought before the Green Climate Fund (GCF) board for approval in June 2017. The project seeks to enhance coastal protection, and strengthen national and local capacities for the effective monitoring, maintenance and implementation of community-based adaptation (CBA) actions. [UNDP Press Release]


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