As May 2016 became the 13th consecutive month to break the global temperature records, the world's regions' need to adapt to the changing climate grew stronger.
In 2015-2016, the periodic warming of the central to Eastern tropical Pacific, known as 'El Niño,' was the strongest since 1997-1998, causing some regions to receive more rain, and others to receive no precipitation.
These changes impacted agriculture, food security and nutrition among the affected populations.
During the past few weeks, the world's regions, States and sectors have redoubled adaptation efforts, focusing on building resilience and managing disaster risks.
The news reported in this Update also demonstrate that the role of cooperation, innovation and knowledge dissemination in advancing climate change adaptation efforts cannot be underestimated.
30 June 2016: As May 2016 became the 13th consecutive month to break the global temperature records, the world’s regions’ need to adapt to the changing climate grew stronger. In 2015-2016, the periodic warming of the central to Eastern tropical Pacific, known as ‘El Niño,’ was the strongest since 1997-1998, causing some regions to receive more rain, and others to receive no precipitation. These changes impacted agriculture, food security and nutrition among the affected populations. During the past few weeks, the world’s regions, States and sectors have redoubled adaptation efforts, focusing on building resilience and managing disaster risks. The news reported in this Update also demonstrate that the role of cooperation, innovation and knowledge dissemination in advancing climate change adaptation efforts cannot be underestimated.
With health, gender, indigenous knowledge and climate migration featuring prominently among the recent weeks’ adaptation and loss and damage-related developments, the initiatives reported in this update contribute to a number of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and accompanying targets, including 13 (Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts), 3 (Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages), 5 (Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls), 2 (End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture), 11 (Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable) and target 10.7 on migration and mobility, including the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies.
Regions Face El Niño Impacts, Droughts, Floods
The statement released by the 43rd Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum (GHACOF 43), convened by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC) in Naivasha, Kenya, from 30-31 May 2016, indicates that there is an increased likelihood of La Niña – El Niño’s counterpart associated with cooler than average sea surface temperatures in the central and Eastern tropical Pacific Ocean – developing in the second half of 2016 that will affect the Greater Horn of Africa (GHA) region. Floods are also more likely during the rainfall peak months of August and September in Ethiopia, South Sudan and Sudan. [Statement from GHACOF 43] [IGAD Press Release] [WMO Press Release on GHA]
To better understand risks and assess impacts from the 2015-2016 El Niño, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) conducted a ‘Regional Consultative Workshop on El Niño in Asia-Pacific’ in Bangkok, Thailand, from 7-9 June 2016. Participants from over 12 countries affected by El Niño received training on a standardized methodology to interpret, translate and communicate El Niño-associated risks in a timely manner. [Workshop Concept Note] [Workshop Programme] [ESCAP Workshop Webpage] [ESCAP Press Release]
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) convened a high-level meeting in Rome, Italy, on 30 June 2016, which highlighted the need for long-term action to address El Niño impacts in Central America’s ‘Dry Corridor,’ including by building resilience for food security and nutrition for the most vulnerable populations in the countries affected by the phenomenon.
‘Dry Corridor’ refers to a group of ecosystems in the dry tropical forests region in Central America extending from the lowlands of the Pacific coastal area to most of central pre-mountain region of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and parts of Costa Rica and Panama. Subject to climate risks such as recurrent droughts, excessive rains and severe flooding, ‘Dry Corridor’ recently experienced one of the worst droughts in decades.
In the midst of the extreme drought affecting Dry Corridor, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) managing the recently expanded Panama Canal has been promoting climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction (DRR) through sustainable use of water. [UN Press Release] [FAO Calendar] [UNISDR Press Release] [Panama Canal Website]
Also in relation to droughts in Central America, FAO released a report titled ‘Drought characteristics and management in the Caribbean,’ which calls for countries in the region to enhance their capabilities to deal with more frequent and intense droughts brought about by climate change. The report discusses drought characteristics and management in the Caribbean, identifies national and regional agencies involved in drought management, and reviews information on their work at national and regional levels. It recognizes the vulnerability of the agricultural sector to seasonal droughts and outlines the socioeconomic impacts of droughts on water resources, fisheries, tourism, hydropower and communities’ coping capacity. [Drought Characteristics and Management in the Caribbean] [FAO Press Release] [UN Press Release]
Climate change impacts on the poor in coastal Bangladesh were the focus of a World Bank Policy Research Talk by Susmita Dasgupta, Lead Environmental Economist, World Bank. Dasgupta highlighted heightened cyclonic inundation, rising river salinity and increased soil salinity among the current and growing risks with severe consequences for the poor. “Climate change is going to create severe poverty traps,” she noted. “Unless we address the climate change problem now, sustainable poverty reduction will remain a dream.” [World Bank Feature Story]
Regions, Countries, Sectors Build Climate Resilience, Enhance DRR Efforts
A high-level panel on ‘Resilience to Natural Hazards and Climate-Induced Disasters’ convened in New York, US, on 28 June 2016, on the margins of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Humanitarian Affairs Segment. With the overall goal of further elaborating the diverse possibilities for managing risks differently, the event focused on the options for concrete actions as follow-up to the high-level leaders’ roundtable on ‘Natural Disasters and Climate Change: Managing Risks & Crises Differently’ held during the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) in Istanbul, Turkey, on 24 May 2016. [IISD RS Sources]
A high-level forum on ‘Implementing the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction at the Local Level,’ held in Florence, Italy, from 16-17 June 2016, adopted ‘The Florence Way Forward’ on actions to enhance urban resilience to disasters. [The Florence Way Forward] [Meeting Website] [UNISDR Press Release 16 June 2016] [UNISDR Press Release 17 June 2016] [IISD RS Story on Florence Way Forward]
Tonga, Samoa, the Marshall Islands, Vanuatu, the Pacific Community (SPC), the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) and the World Bank launched, on 21 June 2016, the Pacific Resilience Program (PREP), which uses a regional approach to disaster risk management (DRM) to share expertise and increase economies of scale. PREP has now commenced work on improved disaster early warning systems in Tonga and Samoa, and is preparing tools to help Pacific island economies build financial resilience. It has also rolled the Pacific Disaster Risk Financing Initiative (DRFI) piloted under the Pacific Risk Assessment and Financing Initiative (PCRAFI) to deliver quick injections of cash to governments immediately after eligible disasters.
DRM in small island countries was also the topic of a brochure recently issued by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Titled ‘Climate Prediction for Small Island Nations: Managing risks, maximizing opportunities,’ the publication demonstrates how small island States are using new climate prediction tools to boost their economies and enhance livelihoods. Among other issues, it addresses renewable energy, agriculture and national economic planning. [Pacific Community Press Release] [Climate Prediction for Small Island Nations: Managing Risks, Maximizing Opportunities] [WMO Publication Webpage]
The World Bank-managed Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) convened the ‘2016 Understanding Risk’ forum in Venice, Italy, from 16-20 May 2016, to discuss the critical role of innovation in DRM. The forum covered a broad range of topics, including: the role of climate change in decision making; gender, disaster risk and technology intersection; insurance and infrastructure; risk modeling and communication; connections of poverty and risk; and economics of risk. [2016 Understanding Risk Forum Webpage] [Climate-ADAPT Press Release] [World Bank Press Release]
A regional conference on ‘Regional Development and Tourism Transition in a Changing Climate in the Mediterranean’ convened by the World Bank in Marrakesh, Morocco, on 1 June 2016, in preparation for the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) to the UNFCCC, addressed ways to make the tourism sector more resilient to climate change. The conference also addressed the role of climate finance in setting up ecotourism projects, especially in remote areas with the natural capital, to generate green jobs. [World Bank Press Release]
Uganda, in collaboration with the UNDP and the University of Maryland, US, began to deploy drones to develop base maps for refugee settlements that will contribute to their resilience to climate change and natural hazards. “Building resilience to climate and disaster risk requires the innovative application of technology,” said Martin Owor, Commissioner for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Management at Uganda’s Office of the Prime Minister. [UNISDR Press Release]
As the recent weeks’ reports of the Sendai Framework for DRR implementation efforts ranged from the European Union (EU) to Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), to India and Mongolia, France’s DRR efforts undertaken in response to the recent flooding of Paris by the Seine demonstrated the importance of adequate disaster preparedness.
Robert Glasser, UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for DRR and Head of UNISDR, commended the preparedness measures taken by the French authorities in the face of the devastating floods in Paris and other parts of the country, citing the EU Sequana 2016 flood management exercise – an 11-day simulation of the flood experienced in 1910 when the Seine rose eight meters above its usual level after months of heavy rainfall. He said the exercise reflected the four priorities for action in the Sendai Framework for DRR, focusing on: improving understanding of risk; strengthening disaster risk governance; investing in DRR for resilience; and enhancing preparedness for effective response. [UNISDR Press Release 3 June 2016] [UNISDR Press Release 7 June 2016]
The WMO, the Global Water Partnership (GWP), the Associated Programme on Flood Management (APFM) and the UN University (UNU) enhanced flood risk management by strengthening cooperation in relation to the HelpDesk for Integrated Flood Management (IFM) established to cope with flood risks by providing guidance on flood management policy, strategy and institutional development to countries wishing to adopt an integrated approach to flood management. [UNU Press Release] [IFM HelpDesk Webpage] [APFM Website]
During the European Development Days (EDD 2016) held in Brussels, Begium, from 15-16 June 2016, the European Commission launched its action plan to implement the Sendai Framework for DRR, which aims to redouble efforts to increase resilience to disasters within and outside the EU. [Action Plan on the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030: A Disaster Risk-informed Approach for all EU Policies] [UNISDR Press Release] [Sendai Framework for DRR] [EDD 2016 Website] [IISD RS Story on EU’s Action Plan]
During the First Meeting of Ministers and High-Level Authorities on the Implementation of the Sendai Framework for DRR in the Americas held in Asunción, Paraguay, from 8-9 June 2016, LAC countries agreed guidelines for developing a regional action plan that will encourage governments and communities to reduce disaster risk and associated potential losses. [Asunción Declaration: Guidelines towards a Regional Action Plan for the Implementation of the Sendai Framework 2015-2030] [Asunción Meeting Website] [UN Press Release 6 June 2016] [UN Press Release 8 June 2016] [UNISDR Press Release 7 June 2016] [UNISDR Press Release 9 June 2016] [Speech by UNISDR Head Robert Glasser] [IISD RS Story on LAC Countries’ Guidelines for Regional DRR Action Plan]
India issued its National Disaster Management Plan seeking to implement the four priorities for action of the Sendai Framework for DRR through, inter alia: spreading a greater understanding of disaster risk through education and public information; investing in disaster-resilient infrastructure; and committing to improved disaster preparedness and ‘Building Back Better’ in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction. [UNISDR Press Release 1 June 2016: India Puts Sendai Framework in Operation] [UNISDR Press Release 1 June 2016: UN Welcomes India’s First National Disaster Management Plan] [UNISDR Press Release 6 June 2016] [India’s Prime Minister’s Office Press Release]
Mongolia initiated the Public-Private Partnership Platform for DRR to strengthen the implementation of the Sendai Framework for DRR. [UNISDR Press Release]
Ageism in DRR was addressed by the International Federation on Ageing 13th Global Conference, which issued a call for more governments to sign up to ‘Charter 14 for Older People in DRR’ developed by the UN Office for DRR (UNISDR) and HelpAge International.
Developed in consultation with governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), DRR and ageing experts as well as older men and women, Charter 14 sets 14 minimum standards for the inclusion of older persons in DRM as they are disproportionately affected by disasters. It calls for stronger commitment from governments, donors and organizations to address the shortcomings in DRR policies, strategies and practices that often insufficiently respond to older peoples’ disaster risks. [UNISDR Press Release] [Charter 14 for Older People in DRR] [International Federation on Ageing 13th Global Conference Website]
Cooperation, Innovation, Knowledge Dissemination Foster Climate Change Adaptation
At a ceremony held on the sidelines of the 68th WMO Executive Council meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, on 16 June 2016, representatives from Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation and WMO signed a Memorandum on the Asia-Oceania Meteorological Satellite Users Conference (AOMSUC). The aim of the Memorandum is to maximize the use of meteorological satellites for sustainable socioeconomic development.
The AOMSUC has been meeting annually to enhance the use of satellite data and products for better weather, climate and disaster mitigation services. The Memorandum confirms that the AOMSUC will continue to foster cooperation among satellite operators and users in the region, and help coordinate training and efficient data distribution in developing and least developed countries (LDCs). [WMO Press Release] [China Meteorological Administration Press Release]
The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) partnered with international business and local partners in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh to launch a digital application pilot to help farmers pick the right sowing time, thus avoiding climate change-related uncertainties. [ICRISAT Press Release]
The UNFCCC Nairobi Work Programme on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change (NWP) issued a call for further submissions in English, Spanish and French for its Adaptation Knowledge Portal to ensure wider knowledge outreach and dissemination among non-English speaking stakeholders through regional pages for Africa and Latin America.
The UNFCCC Adaptation Knowledge Portal was launched by the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) during COP 21 in Paris, France, with the objective of further disseminating the knowledge resources generated under the NWP. [NWP Announcement] [NWP eUpdate] [NWP Webpage]
NWP Highlights Findings on Health, Gender, Indigenous Knowledge
Health, gender, and indigenous and traditional knowledge were among the issues recently highlighted in the NWP Synopsis Series and elsewhere.
The NWP released seven synopses summarizing key findings of the NWP technical work on adaptation planning in general, and on adaptation for ecosystems, water resources, human settlements and health, as well as on the cross-cutting issues of indigenous and traditional knowledge and practices, and gender-sensitive approaches. [Good Practices and Lessons Learned in Relation to Adaptation Planning Processes, Including Processes and Structures for Linking National and Local Adaptation Planning] [Ecosystem-based Adaptation and Adaptation Planning Processes Addressing Ecosystems: Overview, Good Practices and Lessons Learned] [Water Resources, Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Planning Processes: Overview, Good Practices and Lessons Learned] [Human Settlements and Adaptation Planning Processes: Overview, Good Practices and Lessons Learned] [Human Health and Adaptation Planning Processes: Overview, Good Practices and Lessons Learned] [Indigenous and Traditional Knowledge and Practices for Adaptation: Overview, Available Tools, Good Practices and Lessons Learned] [Gender-sensitive Approaches and Tools for Adaptation to Climate Change: Overview, Available Tools, Good Practices and Lessons Learned] [UNFCCC Publications Webpage for Adaptation] [NWP Announcement] [NWP eUpdate]
The NWP also invited suggestions for new entries and updates for inclusion in its compilation of examples of good practices, tools and methods and data collection initiatives on the use of local, indigenous and traditional knowledge and practices for adaptation.
The compilation undertaken in April 2016 under the NWP, in collaboration with the Adaptation Committee (AC) and the LDC Expert Group (LEG), currently includes 64 examples based on the inputs provided by 24 international organizations, NGOs and universities, including NWP partner organizations. [NWP Announcement] [NWP eUpdate] [A Compilation of Good Practices, Tools and Available Data Collection Initiatives for the Use of Local, Indigenous and Traditional Knowledge and Practices for Adaptation]
The relationship between climate change and health was addressed by the sixth Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-6) Assessment for the pan-European region and a WMO and World Health Organization (WHO) publication on climate services for health.
According to GEO-6, climate change, along with poor air quality, unhealthy lifestyles and the disconnection between people and the environment, are increasingly affecting human health in the region. Climate change impacts affect health through floods, heat waves, droughts, reduced agricultural productivity, exacerbated air pollution and allergies, and vector, food and water-borne diseases, the report finds.
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) launched GEO-6 during the eighth Environment for Europe (EfE) Ministerial Conference in Batumi, Georgia, on 8 June 2016. [Media Factsheet – GEO-6 Assessment for the pan-European region] [UNECE Press Release] [Eighth EfE Ministerial Conference Website] [IISD RS Coverage of Eighth EfE Ministerial Conference]
The WMO and WHO Joint Office on Climate and Health issued a collection of case studies titled ‘Climate Services for Health: Improving public health decision-making in a new climate,’ outlining tailored climate services used to manage health risks.
The case study collection was released to inform discussions at the Health and Climate Colloquium 2016 hosted by the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) and the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, US, from 8-10 June 2016. [Climate Services for Health: Improving Public Health Decision-making in a New Climate] [WMO Publication Landing Page] [WMO Press Release] [Health and Climate Colloquium 2016 Webpage]
Publications Explore Interlinkages among Human Mobility, Climate Change and Development
Climate migration was the topic of a number of publications released over the past few weeks.
Two thematic input papers (TIP) addressing migration, development and climate change in North Africa were released by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and Maastricht University, the Netherlands, and by the SDC and Climate Change & Environment Network, respectively, in May-June 2016. The two TIPs focus on Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt. The TIP titled ‘The climate change, migration and economic development nexus in North Africa: An overview’ addresses the climate change and migration nexus from the perspective of disaster risk and employment. The TIP ‘Migration, development and climate change in North Africa’ explores the link between climate change, migration and humanitarian crises.
The TIPs were originally prepared for the SDC Thematic Regional Meeting on ‘Climate Change, Disaster Risks, Migration and Economic Development’ held in Agadir, Morocco, in March 2016. [The Climate Change, Migration and Economic Development Nexus in North Africa: An Overview] [Migration, Development and Climate Change in North Africa] [SDC Website] [SDC Dedicated Website on Migration]
Migration-driven urbanization was one of the topics addressed in a report titled ‘Humanity on the move: Unlocking the transformative power of cities.’ Prepared by the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU), a scientific advisory board to the German Federal Government, the report is a contribution to the Habitat III conference. The publication discusses, among other issues, the relevant conditions for cities to contribute to the transformation towards sustainability.
Habitat III is the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development that will convene in Quito, Ecuador, from 17-20 October 2016. [Humanity on the Move: Unlocking the Transformative Power of Cities: Summary] [WBGU Publication Landing Page] [Climate-ADAPT Press Release] [Habitat III Website]
The UNEP published an op-ed by Anote Tong, former President of Kiribati, who makes a case for ‘migration with dignity’ as part of low-lying island nations’ and other vulnerable States’ climate change adaptation strategy, as opposed to relocation of their people as climate refugees. [Climate Change Refugees: A Catastrophe of Our Own Creation]
The UNDP and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) launched ‘Thirty Million,’ a documentary showing the dramatic effects of sea-level rise in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh is forecast to lose 17% of its land by the end of the century if the global sea levels rise by one meter. Up to 30 million Bangladeshis could be displaced as a result. “We’re on the cusp of seeing major human migrations driven by climate change,” said Adrien Taylor, the film’s co-director. [UNDP Press Release] [GEF Press Release]