unfccc_unu_undp_une-_wcmc9 April 2016: Alongside the long-term goal of limiting temperature increase to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100, the Paris Agreement on climate change includes a long-term adaptation goal, namely that of “enhancing adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change, with a view to contributing to sustainable development and ensuring an adequate adaptation response in the context of the temperature goal.” Furthermore, the vast majority of national climate plans submitted in advance of Paris (or Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs)) included descriptions of countries’ adaptation goals, priorities, actions and needs. This Adaptation Update is the first in a series that aims to track the implementation of the adaptation component of these INDCs, and progress towards the long-term adaptation goal of the Paris Agreement. The activities reported in this Update also contribute to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG 13 (Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts), as well as SDG 1 (End poverty in all its forms everywhere), SDG 5 (Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls) and SDG 10 (Reduce inequality within and among countries).

Over the past few weeks, the Adaptation Committee and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) Expert Group (LEG) have begun work under the mandates given to them by the decision of the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the UNFCCC adopting the Paris Agreement. The Executive Committee of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts (WIM) has been advancing work under its initial two-year workplan on financial instruments, slow onset events and migration. In preparation for the upcoming sessions, the UNFCCC Secretariat has been receiving submissions from UNFCCC Parties and observer organizations on various adaptation-related issues, including agriculture, and gender and climate change, ahead of 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). These sessions will take place from 16-26 May 2016, in Bonn, Germany.

Adaptation Committee and LEG Embark on Tasks Mandated by Paris Agreement

At its ninth meeting held in Bonn, Germany, from 1-3 March 2016, the Adaptation Committee (AC) agreed on a 2016-2018 revised workplan in line with the new mandates from COP 21 with the overall aim of contributing to the global goal on adaptation (Article 7.1 of the Paris Agreement), and the principles guiding adaptation action (Article 7.5 of the Paris Agreement). It further agreed on the topics for the technical examination process for adaptation (A-TEP) to take place during the period 2016‐2020, which, along with the technical examination process for mitigation (M-TEP), had been decided upon by COP 21. The umbrella topic for TEP-A in 2016 is ‘Reducing vulnerability and mainstreaming climate change adaptation, including through the process to formulate and implement national adaptation plans,’ whereas the topics of the two 2016 Technical Expert Meetings (TEMs), as proposed by the AC, are: enhancing the implementation of adaptation action; and effective policy frameworks and institutional arrangements for adaptation planning and implementation.

The AC’s next steps in relation to the tasks mandated by the Paris Agreement include: to work together with the LEG through a joint meeting to be held on 27 May 2016 to decide on next steps, including a possible joint task force; and to explore means of having additional intersessional interaction on the five tasks emanating from Paris, namely: for the AC to review, in 2017, the work of adaptation-related institutional arrangements under the Convention and to consider methodologies for assessing developing countries’ adaptation needs; and for the AC and LEG to jointly develop modalities to recognize developing countries’ adaptation efforts, to develop methodologies on facilitating the mobilization of support for adaptation in developing countries, and to develop methodologies on reviewing the adequacy and effectiveness of adaptation and support.

The AC promotes the implementation of enhanced action on adaptation in a coherent manner under the UNFCCC through: providing technical support and guidance to Parties; sharing relevant information, knowledge, experience and good practices; promoting synergy and strengthening engagement with national, regional and international organizations; providing information and recommendations to the COP when providing guidance on means to incentivize the implementation of adaptation actions; and considering information communicated by Parties on their monitoring and review of adaptation actions, as well as support provided and received. [AC Ninth Meeting Webpage] [AC Revised Workplan for 2016-2018] [AC Ninth Meeting Annotated Agenda] [Concept note on Implementation of Tasks for AC Emanating from Decision 1/CP.21] [AC Webpage] [Decision 1/CP.21 – Adoption of Paris Agreement] [IISD-RS Sources]

At its 29th meeting held in Dili, Timor-Leste, from 15-19 March 2016, the LEG focused on, inter alia: the tasks it had been requested to undertake by COP 21 jointly with the AC; collaboration with other organizations with a view to support LDCs’ adaptation planning efforts; support for LDCs’ access to funding from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) for the preparation of National Adaptation Plans (NAPs); and NAP Expo 2016 to take place in July 2016.

The LEG provides technical support and advice to the LDCs on the national adaptation programmes of action (NAPAs) and the LDC work programme. It also provides technical guidance and support to the NAP process. [UNFCCC Adaptation Meetings Webpage] [LEG Webpage] [NAP Expos Webpage] [IISD Policy Update: The UNFCCC National Adaptation Planning Model: A Foundation for Fulfilling Post-2015 Commitments? Part I] [IISD Policy Update: The UNFCCC National Adaptation Planning Model: A Foundation for Fulfilling Post-2015 Commitments? Part II] [IISD-RS Sources] [29th LEG Meeting Report]


A number of UNFCCC Parties and observer organizations have made submissions to the UNFCCC Secretariat on adaptation and agriculture ahead of a SBSTA 44 workshop on the identification and assessment of agricultural practices and technologies to enhance productivity in a sustainable manner, to be held from 16-26 March 2016. Submissions have been received from, inter alia, the African Group, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Mali, Uruguay, New Zealand, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the US and the EU, as well as the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers (CGIAR); Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO); and CARE International.

In 2011, the COP requested the SBSTA to consider issues relating to agriculture in order to exchange views. SBSTA 40 invited Parties and observers to submit to the Secretariat, by 9 March 2016, their views on identification of adaptation measures and assessment of agricultural practices and technologies to enhance productivity in a sustainable manner. [UNFCCC Submission Portal] [Submissions from Observer Organizations to SBSTA] [UNFCCC Webpage: Issues Relating to Agriculture] [Mandated Events during May 2016 Climate Change Conference]

Gender and Climate Change

In response to an invitation from COP 20, several Parties and observers have submitted their views on matters to be addressed at the in-session workshop on gender-responsive climate policy with a focus on adaptation and capacity-building, and training for delegates on gender issues, that will be held during SBI 44 from 18-19 May 2016. Indonesia, the US, Malawi, Kenya, the LDCs, Switzerland, Bangladesh, the EU and Uganda, as well as the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN); the UN Development Programme (UNDP); South Centre; and the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) and Human Rights Watch (HRW), among others, have submitted their views.

Climate change impacts affect women and men differently. Women, who comprise 70% of the world’s poor, are disproportionately affected. At the same time, they play a crucial role in climate change adaptation and mitigation actions. The international climate process addresses the interlinkages between gender on the one hand, and adaptation, mitigation, and financial, technology and capacity-building support, on the other. [UNFCCC Submission Portal] [Submissions from Observer Organizations to SBI] [UNFCCC Gender and Climate Webpage] [Mandated Events during May 2016 Climate Change Conference]

Loss and Damage Committee Advances Work on Financial Instruments, Slow Onset Events, Migration

At COP 19 in November 2013, in Warsaw, Poland, UNFCCC Parties established the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (WIM) to address loss and damage associated with impacts of climate change, including extreme events and slow onset events, in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. Loss and damage is treated in a separate article of the Paris Agreement, which recognizes that even the greatest resilience may not completely prevent harm to life and property, and that the global community must find ways to address “loss and damage” in cases where impacts are beyond the limits of adaptation. Over the past few weeks, various activities have contributed to advancing the work on this issue.

UNFCCC Parties and observer organizations have made submissions in response to a request for information on ‘best practices, challenges and lessons learned from existing financial instruments at all levels that address the risk of loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change’ from the Executive Committee (ExCom) of the WIM. Submissions have been received from the EU, Japan, Turkey and the US, as well as Climate Action Network International (CAN), CARE International, and Loss and Damage Network, among others. The information gathered is expected to enable the Executive Committee to disseminate information on financial instruments and tools to address loss and damage in order to encourage comprehensive risk management. [ExCom Financial Instruments Submissions Webpage] [ExCom Financial Instruments Webpage]

The ExCom has also compiled into an online database the results of the initial stocktake of organizations working on slow onset events, such as sea level rise, increasing temperatures, ocean acidification, glacial retreat and related impacts, salinization, land and forest degradation, loss of biodiversity and desertification, and the scope of their current efforts. The ExCom has issued an invitation to relevant organizations, particularly those working at the national or sub-national level, to contribute to enhancing knowledge of the risks of slow onset events and their impacts under the UNFCCC process by sharing information through the online database no later than 1 May 2016. [ExCom Slow Onset Events Webpage]

The ExCom Co-Chairs have also issued a letter to the SBSTA Chair requesting that slow onset events be considered as a possible topic for the research dialogue to be held at SBSTA 44 or for future research dialogues. [Letter to SBSTA Chair] [Research Dialogue Webpage]

The ExCom has also invited relevant organizations and experts to provide information on internal and cross-border migration, displacement and other forms of human mobility related to climate change impacts, particularly in relation to potential challenges and possible solutions. Such information is expected to contribute to enhancing the understanding of how climate change impacts are affecting patterns of migration, displacement and human mobility.

COP 21 requested the ExCom to establish the task force on displacement in order to develop recommendations for integrated approaches to avert, minimize and address displacement related to the adverse impacts of climate change. The inputs provided in this context are envisaged to inform the work of the task force. [ExCom Migration, Displacement and Human Mobility Webpage]

Interlinkages among Climate Change Adaptation, Disaster Risk Reduction and Sustainable Development

Several initiatives have emphasized the interlinkages among climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction (DRR), as well as the relationship between climate change adaptation efforts and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

During its Third International Workshop held in Jakarta, Indonesia, from 14-15 March 2016, the Expert Network and Twinning Institute on Climate and Societal Change for Southeast Asia (TWIN-SEA) project, led by the UN University (UNU), addressed, among other topics, how to support and improve science-based government decision making relating to climate change and disaster impacts, and the role and capacity of the private sector in tackling the challenges of coastal adaptation. [UNU Press Release] [TWIN-SEA Webpage] [Workshop Programme]

Coastal adaptation is also the focus of a guide for environmental managers and planners published by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) titled ‘Options for Ecosystem-Based Adaptation in Coastal Environments.’ The UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) has led the guide’s production under the UNEP ‘Building Capacity for Coastal Ecosystem-Based Adaptation for Small Islands Developing States’ project funded by the European Commission.

The guide helps build a broad understanding of the principles and concepts of coastal ecosystem-based adaptation (EBA) by presenting a range of coastal EBA options that are illustrated with case studies from developing countries. The publication also discusses challenges to EBA implementation, and supports environmental decision makers in choosing, implementing, monitoring, evaluating and adaptively managing coastal EBA. [Options for Ecosystem-Based Adaptation in Coastal Environments]

UNDP has launched an electronic discussion to collect views on a new integrated framework for mainstreaming both DRR and climate change adaptation that will take place in three phases from 29 March to 20 May 2016. The exercise aims to provide practical support for governments and development practitioners to mainstream disaster and climate risk into development decision making, and make the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development ‘risk-informed.’ [Integrated DRR-CCA Mainstreaming Framework E-discussion Webpage] [E-discussion Background]

The joint UNDP-UNEP Poverty-Environment Initiative (PEI) has helped Bangladesh’s flood-prone district of Sunamgonj boost the livelihoods of 100,000 households by increasing fish stocks and improving agricultural management, as well as improving the district water management system, introducing crops that are resistant to climate change, increasing the number of floating gardens and fish cages, and building environmentally-friendly roads that are resistant to natural disasters and improve access to local markets, education and sanitation.

The PEI provides support to numerous government projects in Bangladesh to boost resilience to the damaging impacts of climate change. In addition to helping reverse environmental degradation, the projects create job opportunities for some of the poorest people in the country, thus contributing to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The PEI is a global programme that supports country-led efforts to promote pro-poor, pro-environment objectives by mainstreaming them into national and sub-national development planning, policymaking, budgeting, implementation and monitoring. [UNEP Press Release] [PEI Website]