APA: Parties exchange views on adaptation communication

Bonn, 24 May 2016 (Indrajit Bose)

Parties to the UNFCCC’s Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA) began to have an initial exchange of views on 23 May on the guidance to be provided as regards the adaptation communication, including, inter alia, as a component of nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement (PA).

The guidance on the adaptation communication is agenda item 4, one of the items being discussed in the APA contact group, co-chaired by Sarah Baashan (Saudi Arabia) and Jo Tyndall (New Zealand).

(Developing countries called for the inclusion of this agenda item on adaptation, in order to ensure that the discussions around NDCs are not mitigation-centric: see TWN Bonn Climate Update 3 and Update 5.)

Outlining the views of the Like-Minded Developing Countries (LMDC), Venezuela said that the development of guidance in relation to the communication of the adaptation component of NDCs must be in the context of the adaptation provisions of the PA and the Convention. It said that in this context, a differentiated approach is clearly indicated.

The undertaking of adaptation plans and actions, and the communication of such adaptation plans and actions, are essentially discretionary under the PA, which essentially recognizes that such undertaking and communication should be done “as appropriate,” said Venezuela.

It said further guidance in relation to the adaptation component of the NDCs should focus on ensuring the continued discretionary nature of Parties undertaking national adaptation plans and programmes; enhancing the required provision and communication of adaptation-related support from developed countries to developing countries under Article 7(13) of the PA; providing ways to further define the global goal on adaptation, including its components, metrics, and assessment methods; and modalities and procedures for assessing adaptation needs.

Saudi Arabia spoke for the Arab Group and said what Parties lacked was any kind of guidance to communicate their adaptation communication as NDCs. It proposed that technical work should start with addressing the “what and how” of communicating adaptation action and then Parties could address if there was need for Parties to communicate adaptation guidelines through national adaptation plans (NAPs) or national communications (NATCOMs).

Speaking for the African Group, Botswana said that NDCs consist of a mitigation, an adaptation and a means of implementation component covering finance, technology development and transfer and capacity building in accordance with Article 3 of the PA.

“Our perception of NDCs covering all elements is exemplified in the fact that 137 out of 161 countries that submitted intended NDCs (INDCs) contain an adaptation component, including all African states,” it explained.  The PA frames the component of NDCs and where appropriate, the use of NAPs, under national circumstances to avoid an additional burden on developing countries, said Botswana.

It further added that the UNFCCC’s INDC synthesis report was very helpful in assessing Parties’ collective national mitigation contributions against the global mitigation goal. “Unfortunately, the INDC synthesis report was not able to undertake a similar assessment for adaptation due to the lack of guidance provided for the adaptation component of INDCs in Lima (referring to the meeting of the Conference of Parties in 2014),” said Botswana.

It also said that the agenda item on common guidance is crucial as it enables Parties to take stock of the implementation of the Agreement to assess the collective progress made towards achieving the global goal for adaptation. In this respect, common guidance should address modalities and procedures for adaptation communications and minimum information to be communicated by Parties to: provide clarity and consistency of information pertaining to priorities, implementation and support needs, as well as plans and action; identify and share best practices; accurately evaluate adaptation needs in terms of the means of implementation in relation to the mitigation efforts and temperature scenarios, and adequacy of support to meet the adaptation needs and to achieve the global adaptation goal; and provide a basis for aggregating national adaptation contributions for the purpose of evaluating progress made in meeting the global adaptation goal, as part of the global stocktake.

This requires further consideration of the content of adaptation communications, methodologies to ensure comparability and aggregation, and common timeframes, said Botswana.

Speaking for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) said that on the scope of this discussion, there were two key matters to be addressed in this agenda item viz. what to communicate and how to communicate (the adaptation efforts of countries).

“As we also know we are not starting this discussion from scratch; we already have enough materials and processes related to adaptation communication. LDCs also have experience on working on National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs), and building on this experience many of our countries are in the process of formulating NAPs,” said DRC.

Speaking for Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), Jamaica said they wanted to reflect flexibility in reporting on adaptation, but in the elements, there had to be some level of comparability. It underscored the point of consideration for SIDs to be factored into the common elements. It also said that there should be a single registry for mitigation and adaptation.

Speaking for the Independent Alliance of Latin America and the Caribbean (AILAC), Colombia said that the focus of work on guidelines must be to identify a common set of minimum information that is to be captured regardless of the vehicle in the context of adaptation communication. It said that guidance was important for the global stocktake.

China said that an adaptation communication was a very important component of NDCs to achieve parity between mitigation and adaptation. Such a communication should ensure the discretionary nature of Parties’ plans and programmes. It called for sufficient flexibilities for developing countries and for minimum information requirements, adding that the information should feed into the global stocktake. It called for further guidance on adaptation modalities and procedures.

India reiterated that adaptation is an essential part of NDCs and is to be indicated in the form of communication, which depends on the voluntary choice of countries. It said adaptation needs should be clearly established. It called for more clarity on the adaptation goal. For developing countries, the key element in adaptation is financial support. India underlined that the developed countries had a clear responsibility on this account and there exists a lot of gap in adaptation finance, which needs to be clarified through technical work. India also said that adaptation communication should not overburden developing countries. It supported the call for submissions on adaptation.

For Argentina, adaptation is included in other items of the agenda, such as item 5 on transparency, item 6 on global stocktake and item 8(c) as a way to take stock of the progress made by subsidiary and constituted bodies.

It said it understood adaptation communications as the adaptation component of NDCs, NAPs, and NATCOMs. This flexibility is important for developing countries and reflects the different capacities to report that are stated under the transparency section of the PA, it added.

“We need to recognize that 137 INDC contributions included an adaptation component. This is a clear sign that developing countries assigned priority to this element as a consequence of the urgency of facing adverse effects of climate change and the difficulties we experience to adapt to the temperature goal and the objective of the PA under Article 2, including food production,” said Argentina. The adaptation component of the different vehicles communicated by Parties should be maintained and be based on the local and national nature of adaptation while promoting a common base to understand mitigation and adaptation on equal footing, it stressed.

Argentina also said the development of further guidance should regard the needs and priorities of developing countries in close relation with the necessary means of implementation in the context of sustainable development goals and adaptation goal. It added that this agenda item is closely related to the various mandates that have been assigned to the Adaptation Committee and other institutional arrangements. It also stressed the relation of this topic with international migration.

South Africa said the global goal on adaptation was linked to the temperature goal and adaptation formed one of the key contributions. It stressed that the minimum information to be provided in adaptation communication was crucial and it should ensure clarity and consistency with support needs. It said that guidance on adaptation communication should be developed along side the modalities, procedures and guidelines.

The European Union said that adaptation communication was an overarching concept and that the PA provided Parties with guidance on content on adaptation in Article 7(10).

Switzerland said it recognized the importance of providing further guidance on adaptation and for Parties to focus on the periodicity of submissions, ensuring that no additional burden is created. It said that work could begin with mapping out how the adaptation communication is linked to other processes such as NAPs.

The United States said that there were three issues involved with adaptation communication: how adaptation communication in and of itself related to the vehicle it is submitted through; should the communication be distilled into different pieces of information; and how to strike balance in the need for adaptation communication.

Bonn News Updates 10

16 May - 26 May 2016, Bonn, Germany
by Indrajit Bose
Bonn, 24 May 2016