14 November 2016
Climate Change Conference Spotlights Oceans, Energy, Transport and Mountains
story highlights

A number of side events held on Friday and into the weekend at the Marrakech Climate Change Conference featured various pathways to mitigation and adaptation such as through resilience building, project finance, economic diversification and waste management.

Special Action Days as well as other events focused on mountains, oceans, energy and transport.

12 November 2016: Side events held on Friday and into the weekend at the Marrakech Climate Change Conference featured various pathways to mitigation and adaptation, such as through resilience building, project finance, economic diversification and waste management. Special Action Days and other events focused on mountains, oceans, energy and transport.

A discussion of the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Resilience Initiative: Anticipate, Absorb, Reshape (A2R), which follows on a commitment to involve a wider range of stakeholders in resilience, considered reshaping development pathways towards climate resilience. Panelists discussed: a focus on climate resilience in intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) in the Gulf region; efforts to increase resilience in water management in Saudi Arabia; private sector expertise, capability and finance to engage in resilience and climate adaptation issues, and requirements for standards and data using harmonized approaches; and gaps in climate resilience data.

Another event highlighted progress made by the Green Climate Fund (GCF) in supporting low-emission and climate-resilient development pathways, including support to developing countries for project finance. Panelists said that the GCF’s portfolio is balanced with 27% of projects focusing on mitigation, 28% on adaptation and 45% having a cross-cutting nature. More than 90 country programmes have been funded. They also discussed: a community-based resource management programme in Namibia; a programme for sustainable energy alternatives for the eastern Caribbean countries; and water, food security and energy as the priority sectors for Africa.

An event on ‘Mapping and Understanding Mountains to Achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’ focused on mountain frameworks in the context of climate change. Panelists stressed: that mountains are recognized in 48 INDCs and three targets in two Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); the importance of ecosystem-based adaptation; and adoption of improved energy cooking systems to significantly reduce pressure on mountain ecosystems.

An event on incorporating blue carbon into nationally determined contributions (NDCs) focused on coastal blue carbon ecosystems, which present considerable potential for carbon storage and resilience. Panelists discussed blue carbon as a transformational tool for marine management and conservation at the global level, noting that a number of countries have included blue carbon in their NDCs. They also addressed: why blue carbon ecosystems are critical for disaster risk reduction (DRR) and ways to promote ecosystem-based approaches that build resilience; protecting mangroves through carbon financing; the need for a clear definition of blue carbon to enhance understanding; the role of scientific exercises and demonstration projects to ensure consensus measuring blue carbon; and community-based approaches to “build with nature.” [SDG Knowledge Hub Guest Article on International Partnership for Blue Carbon]

Another event presented demonstrations of combined adaptation and disaster risk management in development. It addressed: shared lessons learned from the Swiss experience in integrating DRR and climate change adaptation; Morocco’s national disaster fund established to prevent disasters as much as possible; laws in Bolivia aimed at integrating disaster risk and adaptation into policy planning, including the law of living well for integrated development, the law on risk management and the law of national integrated system of planning; and the fact that insurance puts a price tag on risk that provides incentives for action on adaptation and disaster risk.

Other events convened on: enhancing the transparency of mitigation and finance; climate change and the energy transition in the Mediterranean Region and opportunities through NDC cooperation; and ways through which local solutions may lead to ambitious NDCs, provide energy access and improve livelihoods. [IISD RS Coverage of Side Events]

A Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) event considered collaboration with European Institutes on economic diversity. Panelists presented on prospects of economic diversification in Gulf countries; said that enabling a knowledge-based economy should include building and construction innovation hubs, as well as hubs for energy and water management; discussed innovation in manufacturing in the automotive and aerospace sectors; and presented solutions for food security in GCC countries and in the Middle East and North Africa. [IISD RS Coverage of GCC Events]

A US Center session explored current scientific research on climate change and the Arctic, including the role of climate change in the Arctic on worldwide weather and weather extremes. Panelists presented on the tools and data set used by NASA to better understand climate change science; previewed a film titled, ‘Between Earth and Sky,’ on the melting of the Arctic, to be released in early 2017; said permafrost thawing will have “stunning” impacts on infrastructure and coastal erosion in the Arctic; and underscored that reducing black carbon and methane emissions can have significant co-benefits on human health in the near and medium term.

Another event addressed climate-resilient low-emission development and NDC implementation via technical collaboration. Panelists announced the recent establishment of the Low-Emissions Development Strategy Global Partnership’s (LEDS GP) fourth regional office in Eastern Europe and Eurasia; described activities organized by LED GPs’s regional platform in Latin America and the Caribbean; and highlighted support from the US Agency for International Development to Georgia’s LEDS coordination committee. [IISD RS Coverage of US Center Events]

The Global Gender Climate Alliance (GGCA) Innovation Forum aimed to encourage, inter alia, gender responsiveness within climate change policies, decision-making and initiatives at the global, regional and national levels. The Forum included a session on Gender on the Agenda: Where We Are, Where We Are Going, followed by “Skills-Share” sessions on: gender budgeting; gender roles in the promotion of sustainable production and consumption and lifestyles; how to integrate gender into urban climate policy; making climate finance 100% gender-responsive; and using data, monitoring and evaluation to track and inspire implementation of gender-responsive action. Other sessions addressed: People, Gender and Policy on a Changing Planet; From Words to Action: Is it possible?; and a GGCA ‘Seeds of Change’ Award Ceremony recognizing five innovative projects on gender-responsive climate policy.

A series of ‘Lightning Talks: Gender at the Cutting Edge’ addressed: networking and advocacy of Women Human Rights Defenders; community-based adaptation strategies in rural communities; and how to break patriarchal barriers for gender-sensitive climate change initiatives. A closing high-level panel was titled ‘A Dialogue from Advocate to Activist.’ [IISD RS Coverage of the GGCA Innovation Forum]

International Development Research Center (IDRC) events included one on perspectives on implementation of the Paris Agreement, which discussed, among other things, opportunities to turn waste into wealth as a mitigation strategy that empowers marginalized communities; measures such as providing meteorological information as a way to expand the geographical and temporal scales of people’s planning; generation of new avenues of income development of local adaptation plans in Kenya through a participatory process including women; using language and understanding priorities of the different sectors to engage them in adaptation measures; and the role of the government in promoting rainwater harvesting techniques and obtaining better agricultural prices by providing access to information.

Another event focused on innovative approaches to design, implement and communicate research in ways that engage stakeholders, stimulate leadership, and encourage governments and others to act on climate change. Panelists discussed: the importance of participatory ways of doing research on climate smart resilience; a case study of a project in the Ourika Valley, Morocco to empower marginalized women, through information technology, to take adaptation action; how the use of drone technology to document climate change is used to educate and prompt action by policy makers in Ghana; a project in Uganda to help farmers address the impacts of drought, unpredictable rain and market price variability through the dissemination of technical, meteorological and market price information; and training of climate journalists. [IISD RS Coverage of IDRC Events]

The first-ever Oceans Action Day began with remarks from Her Royal Highness (HRH) Princess Lalla Hasna of Morocco, who outlined Morocco’s Blue Belt initiative to develop socioeconomic activities from marine resources in coastal communities, and His Serene Highness (HSH) Prince Albert II of Monaco, who highlighted UN initiatives that seek to protect marine areas beyond national jurisdiction. The event included a High-Level Showcase Segment with sessions on ‘Oceans and Climate: Solutions to the core issues’ (food security, mitigation, adaptation, building resilience); and ‘Oceans and Climate: Science Solutions.’ Three dialogues also convened on Adaptation Challenges and Opportunities; Mitigation Actions and NDCs; and Access to Finance Building Capacity for the Blue Economy under Climate Change.

Numerous announcements were made, including on: an African Package for Climate-Resilient Ocean Economies; Morocco’s Blue Belt Initiative to build the resilience of coastal communities and promote sustainable fisheries and aquaculture; and the Strategic Action Roadmap on Oceans and Climate: 2016 to 2021, which provides a vision for action on oceans and climate over the next five years. It addresses six ocean and climate issue areas: the central role of oceans in regulating climate, mitigation, adaptation, displacement, financing and capacity development. [IISD RS Coverage of Oceans Action Day] [UNFCCC News Story]

Transport Day convened to showcase progress made on fifteen landmark initiatives, covering all transport modes in over 100 countries. It showed that tackling emissions from transport is both possible and cost effective. Initiatives included: the Global Fuel Economy Initiative; the Airport Carbon Accreditation Scheme; and the MobiliseYourCity initiative. The event discussed how the sector is working to build consensus around a common, phased, regionally appropriate Global Macro Roadmap to integrate and guide its transformation. The Roadmap is expected to provide governments with a policy framework, and help catalyze innovation and private sector investment in low carbon transport. Discussions advocated dramatically scaling up action on sustainable transport. [UNFCCC News Story]

Energy Day, which was jointly organized by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) initiative, continued the series of Action days held in Marrakech. The day included: pre-launch commitments to ‘One for All,’ a global campaign to mobilize new forms of capital and new investors to end energy poverty before 2030; discussions on developments in the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Lighthouses Initiative, which supports the transformation of island energy systems; discussions related to progress made in the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative; and an overview of Morocco’s renewable energy transformation.

Adnan Z. Amin, IRENA Director-General, said that the pace and scale of the energy transition must dramatically increase in order to realize the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Energy Day also included announcements related to: commitments from Dalmia Cement and Helvetia to use 100% renewable power across their operations and join RE100; an initiative with more than 80 of the world’s most influential companies that are working to increase demand for and delivery of renewable energy; a new private-sector led initiative, the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA), which connects corporate electricity demand and renewable energy supply; the SIDS Lighthouses Initiative, which now includes 39 States and 19 development partners, and an innovative island renewable energy support programme. [UNFCCC News Story on Energy Day]

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