Unprecedented levels of coordination are needed to face the combined challenges of rising global greenhouse gas emissions, weather-related disasters, and achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
This is the key finding of a UN report summing up the views of experts who gathered in Bonn, Germany, to discuss how countries can better adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change.
Examples discussed at the meeting ranged from reducing the need to build sea walls through better coastal management, to tackling threats to economies from climate change by building resilience in the local tourism sector.
The report explains why an integrated approach to climate change adaptation, the 2030 UN SDG agenda and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction is critical to building the resilience of communities that are at the forefront of climate change and natural disaster risks.
Experts agreed that early and integrated action linking these frameworks results in a well-coordinated way that helps utilise limited resources efficiently, protecting the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable communities.
Resilience and ecosystems play a central role in each of the three global agendas, so that adopting approaches based on these themes are crucial for sustainable development.
Good practices showcased in Bonn
A good example in Mexico showcased at the meeting shows how an ecosystem-based approach is helping the coastal wetlands of the Gulf of Mexico – highly vulnerable to climate change – enhance their adaptive capacity and resilience, reduce disaster risk and improve sanitation.
Under a project funded by the Global Environmental Facility, reforestation of mangroves and riparian vegetation has been introduced in these wetlands to protect biodiversity, and a rainwater harvesting system with a purifying water system has been installed to assist people suffering from limited water resources.
Another example from the Caribbean region highlighted how mainstreaming climate change into disaster risk management is building resilience into the local tourism sector. As part of its efforts to respond to climate impacts, the Caribbean Disaster Development Agency is working towards diversifying the tourism sector away from coastal tourism – due to threats to coastal infrastructure from climate change – and is moving towards community-based tourism.
In addition to tackling the threat to coastal infrastructure, this diversification is also aimed at building a safer and cleaner environment, addressing gender issues and community well-being.
Recognising the interconnectedness of climate and disaster related challenges, several other countries are exploring linkages within these three global agendas. Nepal, for example, makes a reference to the SDGs in its national adaptation plans, aiming to tackle the impacts of poverty and climate change simultaneously to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
And another example is Indonesia that is taking the SDGs into account whilst preparing its national climate action plan (“Nationally Determined Contributions” or “NDCs”).
The report also points to the challenges involved in taking integrated action to respond to climate and disaster risks, including the lack of climate and socio-economic data, inadequate institutional capacity in some countries and absence of financial and technical support.
However, experts agreed that significant progress is being made in overcoming these challenges, including improved coordination among various actors involved in the planning process.
The paper shines a light on the role of the National Adaptation Planning process, which can support the development and implementation of integrated approaches to adaptation, sustainable development and disaster risk reduction.
The United Nations Climate Change (UNFCCC) Adaptation Committee convened policymakers, civil society organizations, scientists, private sector representatives and other stakeholders for the second annual technical expert meeting on adaptation on 16-17 May, 2017. The meeting took place in conjunction with the 46th session of the subsidiary bodies.
This year’s technical expert meeting in May in Bonn will look at adaptation planning for vulnerable groups, communities and ecosystems.
Download the paper here.