Promoting healthy ecosystems to build resilience to climate change


Climate Change Adaptation on the map at COP 16- Cancun, Mexico

During COP 16, conservation organisations focussed on incorporating adaptation concerns into the negotiations. There were, surprisingly, several positive outcomes on this front, representing a big leap from the previous COP in Copenhagen which had left many feeling very despondent. While this is encouraging, there remain many challenges which will have to be addressed at COP17 and beyond.

Adapting to climate change is increasingly important as the impacts of climate change, such as rising temperatures and rising sea levels, are happening now and will continue for decades even if emissions are stabilized today. It is imperative, therefore, that the international community begins adaptation action now, particularly to protect the more vulnerable populations and ecosystems.
From an adaptation perspective, all parties at COP 16 agreed that climate change adaptation was an urgent requirement and that the focus should be on the poorest and the most vulnerable of people and ecosystems. The talks ended with an agreement on the formation of a much needed Adaptation Framework, with an Adaptation Committee to drive it, and discussions around the development of National Adaptation Plans, which all developing countries are invited to formulate if they would like to secure funding for these plans. However, negotiations on secure funding mechanisms for these plans or implementation of adaptation actions are still not finalised. This is the biggest hurdle to unlocking widespread adaptation action.

Significant achievements were also made to mitigate emissions through conserving forests. The funding mechanism, called REDD+ (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), was finally agreed upon in Cancun. The funding for this mechanism could reach up to US$30 billion a year, with US$5 billion available for early actions up to 2012, which could also support new, pro-poor development, help conserve biodiversity and secure vital ecosystem services.

These achievements are a first step to enabling adaptation and mitigation from the land use sector. What needs to be accomplished further in the next COP are decisions on which countries will then qualify for adaptation funding and ultimately a legally binding commitment for developed countries to provide funding to developing countries for adaptation. The rules and financing for REDD+ also still need to be decided upon. The Climate Action Partnership intends to showcase the portfolio of South African climate change adaptation demonstration projects and engage with national and local governments more on mainstreaming adaptation into its decision making policies and processes, adding momentum to the negotiations to be held on our doorstep next year. The next COP will be in November 2011 in Durban, South Africa.

By Simisha Pather-Elias

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Posted: 12/21/2010 (3:35:36 AM)

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