Evolution of work on methods and tools for impact, vulnerability and adaptation assessments under the UNFCCC

The Conference of the Parties (COP), by its decision 9/CP.3, requested the Convention secretariat "to work on the synthesis and dissemination of information on environmentally sound technologies and know-how conducive to mitigating, and adapting to, climate change; for example by accelerating the development of methodologies for adaptation technologies, in particular decision tools to evaluate alternative adaptation strategies". This request aimed to assist Parties in applying the best available methods to assess the impacts of, and their vulnerability to climate change, and their adaptation options.

The secretariat undertook a number of activities in response, including producing a report in 1999 entitled Compendium of Decision Tools to Evaluate Strategies for Adaptation to Climate Change and conducting a workshop on methods and tools in 2001.

This work of the secretariat was supported by the COP and its subsidiary bodies. In particular, the SBSTA at its fifteenth session endorsed the acceleration and broadening of the work of the secretariat in this area and noted, inter alia, the links between work on methodologies and activities relating to Article 4.8 (adaptation) and 4.9 (LDCs) and national communications from non-Annex I Parties.  The COP, by its decision 17/CP.8, further encouraged non-Annex I Parties to use the UNFCCC compendium for the evaluation of adaptation strategies and measures.

Subsequently, in 2003, the secretariat reinvigorated the Compendium to reflect new developments. An updated compendium, was reviewed during an expert meeting in April 2004. The expert meeting identified a number of activities necessary for improvement of the Compendium and enhancing its use by Parties, including identifying more than 20 additional methods for inclusion.

A UNFCCC side event was organised during COP 10 in Buenos Aires to launch the new compendium entitled Compendium of methods and tools to evaluate impacts of, and vulnerability and adaptation to, climate change and exchange experience on application of methods and tools.  COP 10, by its decision 1/CP.10, requested the SBSTA to develop a structured five-year programme of work of the SBSTA on the scientific, technical and socio-economic aspects of impacts of, and vulnerability and adaptation to, climate change, which  would address the following issues: methodologies, data and modelling; vulnerability assessments, adaptation planning, measurs and actions; and integration into sustainable development.

Consequently, the COP, by its decision 2/CP.11, adopted the Five-year programme of work of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change. Among its activities the work programme seeks to:

  • Promote the development and dissemination of methodologies and tools for impact and vulnerability assessments, such as rapid assessments and bottom-up approaches, including as they apply to sustainable development

  • Promoting the development and dissemination of methods and tools for assessment and improvement of adaptation planning, measures and actions, and integration with sustainable development

At SBSTA 25, Parties adopted conclusions relating to the "Five-year programme of work on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change".  COP 12 renamed the five-year programme of work to the "Nairobi work programme on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change" and activities were initiated in 9 work areas, including for methods and tools.