IGOs, Development Banks and UN Agencies React to Paris Agreement
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Upon adoption of the Paris Agreement by the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the UNFCCC in Paris, France, a broad array of stakeholders inclusive of UN agencies, development banks and intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), responded to the outcome reached by the 196 Parties.

The Agreement, which will be opened for signature in April 2016, aims to strengthen the global response to climate change, hold the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.

paris_agreementDecember 2015: Upon adoption of the Paris Agreement by the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the UNFCCC in Paris, France, a broad array of stakeholders, including UN agencies, development banks and intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), responded to the outcome reached by the 196 UNFCCC Parties. The Agreement, which will be opened for signature in April 2016, aims to strengthen the global response to climate change, hold the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.

Parties agreed to prepare, communicate every five years, and maintain successive nationally-determined contributions (NDCs). The Agreement also establishes a global goal to enhance adaptive capacity, strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability to climate change, and includes a separate article on loss and damage. It provides that developed country Parties extend financial resources to developing country Parties for both mitigation and adaptation, and other Parties are encouraged to provide or continue to provide such support voluntarily. The Agreement establishes an enhanced transparency framework for action and support. The COP will undertake a global stocktake in 2023 and every five years thereafter, to assess the collective progress towards achieving the purpose of the Agreement and its long-term goals.

Many stakeholders and leaders applauded the Agreement, but noted that the work of implementing it still lies ahead, and highlighted the areas in which their organizations will contribute to fulfilling the Agreement’s objectives.

African Development Bank (AfDB) President Akinwumi Adesina said the voice of Africa had been heard, loud and clear, noting that African countries went to COP 21 with “a unified narrative, a clear agenda, and a bottom line for a fair deal.” He added that the narrative was that of a solution provider, noting much remains to be done as current commitments will result in global warming of about 3°C, and pointing to the Agreement’s provisions for reviewing and strengthening commitments every five years.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) underscored its goal of doubling its annual climate finance from the current US$3 billion to US$6 billion (US$4 billion for mitigation and US$2 billion for adaptation) by 2020, with ADB President Takehiko Nakao saying that the Paris financing decision will help develop low-carbon economies, as well as boost resilience and adaptive capacity. He noted that the ADB and other international financial institutions are committed to harmonizing accounting methodologies for tracking climate finance.

Calling his institution “well-equipped and willing to make a strong contribution,” European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) President Suma Chakrabarti described the Bank’s Green Economy Transition (GET) approach for mainstreaming climate change mitigation and adaptation into the Bank’s activities. EBRD highlighted its aim to raise €18 billion in climate finance over the coming five years, reaching 40% of annual investments by 2020 and helping countries implement their NDCs. The Bank highlighted its focus on urban, industrial and utility energy efficiency.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) also embraced its role in mobilizing the additional public and private resources and expertise needed to implement the Agreement and fulfill commitments. EIB Vice-President Jonathan Taylor called the Agreement a “strong signal to investors and public institutions alike,” noting that the future lies in renewable energy, energy efficiency and measures to protect the vulnerable from the effects of climate change.

Looking ahead to COP 22, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) announced it is working closely with the Moroccan Presidency to further anchor food security and agriculture global action plans and secure financial resources for adaptation. FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva praised the Agreement for being the first global climate change accord to feature food security, saying the international community had fully acknowledged the urgent attention necessary to safeguard the well-being and future of those on the climate change frontline.

Indicating that the Agreement is technology neutral, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it would inform its member States and the public about the role nuclear technology can play in solving the climate crisis, including in measuring the effects of climate change on the ocean, polar and mountainous regions, and in assisting with adaptation in, inter alia, climate-smart agriculture.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) considered the exclusion of international aviation from the Agreement as an indication of support for progress ICAO has made, noting the Paris outcome injects momentum toward achieving agreement on an international aviation market-based measure (MBM) at ICAO’s 39th Assembly. ICAO President Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu underlined that all global industrial sectors, including the civil aviation community, must redouble their efforts toward achieving substantial progress on emissions reduction.

Highlighting in particular the Agreement’s call for making infrastructure finance consistent with a low-emissions and climate-resilient model of development, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) President Luis Alberto Moreno said the Bank stands ready to boost its financial and technical assistance for the implementation phase.

Welcoming the Agreement, International Labour Organization (ILO) Director-General Guy Ryder praised the world’s progress in recognizing climate change, job creation and social inclusion as intertwined challenges that must be confronted jointly to “realize the aspirations of social justice.”

In its analysis of how the Agreement relates to transportation, the Partnership on Sustainable Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT) raised concerns on translating mitigation and adaptation goals into implementation, calling for a stronger linkage between the post-2015 development and climate change agendas. Noting the rapid emissions growth in international aviation and shipping, projected at 250-300% by 2050, SLoCaT lamented these sectors’ omission from the Agreement, expressing concern that progress in land transport could be compromised if not mirrored by equivalent action in aviation and shipping.

In a statement highlighting the “unprecedented opportunity” the world has to save the planet and advance human development, UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark said UNDP is ready to translate the Paris outcome into climate action for people and the planet.

Upholding the Paris Agreement as potentially “the most important international agreement in history,” UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner called for focus on building an inclusive green economy, through renewable energy, green finance, and sustainability in transport, construction and other sectors.

Vowing to begin the difficult task of executing the Agreement, UN General Assembly (UNGA) President Mogens Lykketoft outlined the concrete steps he plans to take, including hosting a High Level Thematic Debate in April 2016, to examine crucial issues for realizing the climate change objectives and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and interconnections between the two.

UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Director General Li Yong pledged his organization would aid its member States and non-State actors toward mainstreaming environmental best practices in industrial production processes. Saying that the Agreement will drive innovation and investment in clean energy technology, Li urged UNIDO members to act quickly.

Margareta Wahlström, UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), called climate change mitigation the “ultimate form of disaster risk reduction (DRR).” She urged coherence among adaptation and ongoing DRR efforts, pointing to the Sendai Framework for DRR’s recognition of the interlocking nature of all risk drivers. She said the DRR community was heartened by the specific mention of the Sendai Framework in the Paris Agreement’s preamble and the language in Articles 7 (adaptation) and 8 (loss and damage) that resonates with that of the Sendai Framework.

The UN University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) and UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) hailed the inclusion of migration and human mobility in the text and highlighted their recent efforts in the challenge of accounting for, protecting and supporting environmentally-induced migrants: conducting the first-ever nationally representative household survey on climate change and migration in the Pacific.

Viewing the Agreement as an “essential tool” for “guiding and motivating action by local and national governments, businesses, and civil society,” outgoing World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Secretary-General Michel Jarraud promised that science will continue to support the UNFCCC and Paris Agreement through improved observations and research, and by strengthening operational climate services to support decision makers.

Highlighting the role it has to play in assisting countries to fulfill their pledges/NDCs, the World Bank reported that it is finalizing a Climate Change Action Plan to “integrate climate considerations across the institution’s operations, and make it easier to deliver comprehensive packages of financing, technical assistance and knowledge” for adaptation and the low-carbon transition.

In celebrating the conclusion of COP 21 as “a critical milestone,” “decisive turning point” and “momentous step,” UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres wrote an open letter “To Remarkable People from All Walks of Life Who, for Over Two Decades, Made Their Contribution – Both Humble and High – to the Success of Paris.” She called the success both individual and collective, saying “we have come together to address the most daunting of challenges” by “respecting our differences and setting aside our enmity, by focusing on the present we share and the future we must build together.” [IISD RS Story on Paris Agreement] [IISD RS Coverage of COP 21] [AfDB Press Release] [ADB Press Release] [EBRD Press Release] [EIB Press Release] [FAO Press Release] [IAEA Press Release] [ICAO Press Release] [IDB Press Release] [ILO Press Release] [SLoCaT Press Release] [UNDP Press Release] [UNEP Press Release] [UNGA President Press Release] [UNIDO Press Release] [UNISDR Press Release] [UNU and UNESCAP Press Release] [WMO Press Release] [World Bank Press Release] [UNFCCC Executive Secretary Open Letter of Gratitude]


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