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UN Climate Change: Adapting to Climate Change Can Save Lives & Livelihoods

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Adapting to the impacts of climate change, such as hurricanes, drought and wildfires, is receiving increasing global attention as more intense climate impacts are felt in every corner of the world.

Adaptation has now become a key feature of international climate talks, including at the Bonn Climate Change Conference held last month. Important topics including the work on the Global Goal on Adaptation and the provision of financial support to developing countries to take adaptation action were high on the agenda in Bonn.

“It’s clear nations must boost their mitigation efforts. But for far too long, adaptation has been the forgotten piece of the climate equation,” said UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa.

The Global Goal on Adaptation

A key topic under discussion at the Bonn Conference was the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA). Under the Paris Agreement, the GGA was established to provide a collective vision and direction for the international community to engage in desperately needed adaptation and resilience-building efforts.

“It’s about more than saving a location: it’s about saving lives, protecting livelihoods and, in many cases, a nation’s very existence,” said Ms. Espinosa.

At the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow last November, countries agreed to launch a two-year work programme on the Global Goal on Adaptation. This first workshop helped enhance understanding of the GGA and the process of reviewing progress towards the goal.

The workshop focused on ways to characterize the goal qualitatively and quantitatively, at the global (e.g. no climate-induced famine), regional (e.g. climate data and information), national (e.g. early warning systems) and local levels (e.g. local resilience plans). Addressing obstacles toward the process to define and review the GGA, such as dealing with different national complexities, was also discussed.

The GGA workshops are a participatory process. The first workshop drew upon 21 submissions from governments and 9 submissions from non-Party stakeholders on how to achieve the objectives of the work programme. A synthesis of submissions can be viewed here.

A call for submissions by both Parties and observers are now in place before each of the next three workshops, taking place in August, September and November. Upcoming workshops will focus on other objectives of the work programme, such as enhancing implementation of adaptation and support, and monitoring, evaluation and learning systems. See here for more conclusions regarding the Glasgow-Sharm el-Sheikh work programme on the Global Goal on Adaptation.

Closing knowledge gaps to scale up adaptation action

Scaling up adaptation action commensurate with unfolding climate impacts requires a solid foundation of practical and accessible knowledge. This is the role of the Nairobi work programme on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change (NWP) – the UNFCCC knowledge-to-action hub for climate resilience and adaptation.

Negotiations on the NWP were held at the Bonn Conference, focusing on strengthening the role of the work programme in responding to knowledge needs on adaptation, including through country- and region-specific actions.

Ways to strengthen the work programme include scaling up the Lima Adaptation Knowledge Initiative (LAKI), which helps countries in sub-regions around the world identify their adaptation knowledge gaps and catalyze actions to close these gaps. Projects stemming from the LAKI have included mobile applications for climate-smart agriculture, carbon sequestration projects, and toolboxes to strengthen disaster risk reduction and readiness of socio-ecological systems.

NWP will continue to play an important role in providing relevant knowledge and expertise to UNFCCC constituted bodies related to formulating and implementing national adaptation plans, particularly in relation to finance, capacity building and technology transfer.

The outcomes of the negotiations also included actions that strengthen collaboration among NWP thematic expert groups in crucial areas such as assisting developing countries in accessing the necessary finance to implement adaptation action. See here for conclusions.

Supporting Least Developed Countries in implementing adaptation plans

Accelerating support in implementing National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) was one of the key topics during the informal consultations on matters relating to the Least Developed Countries.

NAPs are the main UN Climate Change vehicle for planning and implementing adaptation actions, mandated to receive support from the Green Climate Fund (GCF). Improving the accessibility of such funding to formulate and implement NAPs and adaptation action is crucial to the ongoing work on the Global Goal on Adaptation.

The Least Developed Countries Expert Group (LEG) provides direct support to LDCs on the formulation and implementation of NAPs. Governments requested the expert group to continue collaborating with the GCF secretariat on further enhancing access to funding. Discussions on funding the implementation of NAPs will continue at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in November.

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