UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
1. An assessment of the situation regarding the principle of “ensuring that no one is left behind” at the global level:
The Paris Agreement adopted in December under the UNFCCC is an ambitious agreement in that is sets an upper limit on acceptable risk from climate change well below 2°C and as close to 1.5°C as possible above preindustrial levels by the end of this century. To stay under this upper level of acceptable risk, Parties aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible and to undertake rapid reductions thereafter so as to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century, on the basis of equity, and in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty.
This ambitious objective was agreed in Paris very much in the spirit of ensuring that no one is left behind. The most vulnerable countries will be hit harder by the impacts of climate change and it was essential for them to ensure that the upper limit be set at a level that ensures their survival.
The Paris Agreement also establishes the global goal on adaptation of enhancing adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change, with a view to contributing to sustainable development and ensuring an adequate adaptation response in the context of the upper limit on warming. Parties recognize that adaptation is a global challenge faced by all with local, subnational, national, regional and international dimensions, and that it is a key component of and makes a contribution to the long-term global response to climate change to protect people, livelihoods and ecosystems, taking into account the urgent and immediate needs of those developing country Parties that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. Parties also recognize the importance of averting, minimizing and addressing loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change, including extreme weather events and slow onset events, and the role of sustainable development in reducing the risk of loss and damage.
Finally the Paris Agreement contains a commitment for developed country Parties to provide financial resources to assist developing country Parties with respect to both mitigation and adaptation in continuation of their existing obligations under the Convention. Other Parties are encouraged to provide or continue to provide such support voluntarily.
2. The identification of gaps, areas requiring urgent attention, risks and challenges:
The momentum from the adoption of the Paris Agreement has been maintained and with 177 signatories (a record number of 175 on the opening day) suggesting that the Agreement will enter into force early. This puts the focus on national implementation. By 4 April 2016 189 Parties had communicated intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) to the objective of the Agreement. Information on planned adaptation action was communicated in the INDCs submitted by 137 Parties. These contributions cover the post-2020 period and extend either to 2025 or to 2030. Many developing countries are establishing national processes to formulate National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) covering the medium and the long-term.
Scaling up delivery of progress in the period from now until 2020 is absolutely critical. This will determine the timing of global peaking. The Paris Agreement calls for global peaking as soon as possible and does not set a more specific time frame. Developed country Parties have jointly committed to mobilize 100 billion USD from a variety of sources by 2020. The Paris Conference strongly urged developed country Parties to scale up their level of financial support, with a concrete road map to achieve that goal with special focus on adaptation finance.
As Parties scale up their climate action, there is a great need for enhanced cooperation and of access to financial and technical support to put in motion the investment needed to realise to goals set in the INDCs and elaborated in the NAPs. The Green Climate Fund is one key delivery vehicle for this financing.
There are significant opportunities to deepen the alignment between nationally determine contribution to the objective of the Paris Agreement on the one hand and nation action in pursuit of the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development on the other. Many of the domestic drivers for policies and investments that will determine climate outcomes will be directly related to the SDGs and there is significant value in capturing such synergies explicitly in national planning.
3. Valuable lessons learned on ensuring that no one is left behind:
The Conference of the Parties to the Climate Convention established in 2001 a work programme for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). This included the preparation of National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs), to support LDCs to address the challenge of climate change given their particular vulnerability. The COP also established a Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) to fund the preparation and implementation of NAPAs and an LDC Expert Group to provide technical support and advice to the least developed countries (LDCs).
NAPAs provide a process for the LDCs to identify priority activities that respond to their urgent and immediate needs with regard to adaptation to climate change - those needs for which further delay could increase vulnerability or lead to increased costs at a later stage. The rationale for NAPAs rests on the limited ability of the LDCs to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change. They are action-oriented, country-driven, are flexible and based on national circumstances. In order to effectively address urgent and immediate adaptation needs, NAPA documents are presented in a simple format, easily understood both by policy-level decision-makers and the public.
Once a NAPA has been submitted to the UNFCCC secretariat, the LDC Party is eligible to access funding under the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF), which is managed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), for the implementation of the NAPA. Each LDC is allocated an equal amount of funding from the LDCF, depending on the total amount of resources in the fund, to guarantee equitable access and ensures no LDC is left behind. In addition, the implementation of the NAPAs enhances the capacity of the LDCs to prepare the more comprehensive National Adaptation Plans (NAPs), and to seek funding for them, reducing their risk of being left behind.
4. Emerging issues likely to affect the realization of this principle:
It is particularly urgent this year to take the opportunity to set a strong basis to enhance coherence between the implementation of the Paris Agreement, the Sendai Framework and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development now that the negotiations are concluded and the outcomes need to move to implementation.
The international level has a particular responsibility not to add to the complexity of decision making, and to ensure that national level implementation is coherent, and without unnecessary additional burden in reporting and follow up. When seen as a whole, these important 2015 outcomes can become a powerful driver of national progress.
For this, the long-term vision needs to be clearly articulated in a manner tailored to specific national circumstances and starting points. The private sector is also looking at their societal and environmental impact through the lens of their climate footprint, climate resilience and the SDGs. This will assist national governments in realising their development aspirations in partnership with the private sector. This also extends to efforts to build resilience to the adverse impacts of climate change and to promote climate risk-informed decision making.
5. Areas where political guidance by the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development is required:
The HLPF could provide valuable guidance on how to effectively align climate objectives with the broader sustainable development objectives and thereby deepen domestic buy in. It will also be important for the HLPF to inject a sense of urgency in making progress on the response to climate change given the pivotal importance of the next five years and of the urgent need to build resilience to the adverse impacts of climate change. In doing so, the HLPF could consider how best to ensure ongoing efforts for building readiness (such as under the Green Climate Fund and related channels) support the countries at risk of being left behind to accelerate their transition to low-emission, climate resilient development, guided by the SDGs.
6. Policy recommendations on ways to accelerate progress for those at risk of being left behind:
The impacts of climate change are already starting to impact economic development in particular in the most vulnerable countries and vulnerable populations within countries. The most vulnerable are therefore in the front line as they deal with impacts. The resilience of these economies to the adverse impacts of climate change can be built through adaptation policies and investment and through disaster risk reduction. The resilience dividend from such investments can be quite significant. Stepping up adaptation finance and international cooperation in the areas of adaptation, loss and damage and disaster risk reduction can therefore accelerate progress for those at risk of being left behind. Progress on SDG 17 on means of implementation and partnerships is therefore essential both for the Paris Agreement and for the whole 2030 Agenda. Efforts to build resilience to the impacts of climate change will directly contribute to progress towards many of the SDGs.
At the same time, there is an urgent need to assist vulnerable countries in accelerating their transition toward low emission development pathways given the multiple economic benefits flowing from such a transition. They should not be left behind in fossil-fuel based economy of the past.