Blog Posts

“It always seems impossible, until it is done!"

Manjeet Dhakal
Clean Energy Nepal
Program Director
Nepal

Photos: Civil Society meeting (top), UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Christiana Figueres, showing off the CAN COP17 lanyard (bottom).

Civil society lanyards proudly touting this quote by Nelson Mandela was a good choice by CAN and the perfect fit for Durban.  Its timeliness resonates with many a delegate at the climate negotiations here at COP17.  Indeed the promise of optimism and hope it gives must surely permeate the negotiations and secure for our planet what Mandela proved is possible despite the trials and tribulations on the path to achievement.  Even though we despair at the slow pace of the negotiations, we will continue to persevere in the spirit of this silent reminder until the seemingly impossible is accomplished.
 
This week, more than 25,000 delegates from over 190 countries are gathered here in the beautiful city of Durban, South Africa to progress talks on finalizing the climate deal and to take us closer to a fair, ambitious, and binding global deal. With the letdown of COP15 in Copenhagen, no one expected Cancun to score a redeeming package to ensure continuity in the process. But we know that Cancun was just the next step of a process, which needs to be finalized by this meeting.  Against this backdrop, Durban will be dominated by three major issues: the Kyoto commitments, financial matters, and the legal mandate for ongoing discussions. More than ever, we need a lot of optimism to move ahead and to make good progress.  

Now, it is the time to take a bold step on the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol that was adopted in 1997 with the aim of stabilizing green house gas emission in the atmosphere and holding developed countries accountable with binding targets. The first commitment period (2009 – 2012) ends this year, therefore, a decision must come out of this meeting. Major parties to the KP, including Japan, Russia, and Canada, have already signaled that they will not take on a second commitment because China and the United States—the world’s top two polluters that are not included in it. The European Union (EU) is prepared to sign up for a second round, but it insists that major developing countries, whose emissions are surging as their economies grow, must embrace and follow through on real commitments. Least developed Countries (LDCs), which includes Nepal, are strongly arguing for the KP to be strengthened and to raise the commitments of developed countries.  

The Durban COP will also be judged on whether the wealthy nations of the world will make good on their financial commitments to developing countries adaptation to climate change.  It was decided in Cancun to set up an umbrella Green Climate Fund (GCF) with thematic windows to address the varying needs of countries to deal with climate change. A Transitional Committee (TC) that was established to design the fund has come up with its report, but the situation does not seem to favor the hard work of the committee.

Since Bali (Indonesia, 2007), the climate discourse has shaped the two track approaches, which are the KP track and the Bali mandate track.  The Bali Road-map provides the building blocks of Adaptation, Mitigation, Finance, and Technology Development ,which are briefly covered in the Cancun Agreements.  But there are many other leftover issues mandated to be finalized by the Durban COP.  Some have linkages to the issues being discussed in the KP. There is a stronger voice all around to continue the KP even though it seems quite difficult to continue with two parallel processes forever.  The EU’s preference is to negotiate “a single global and comprehensive legally binding instrument,” including all emitters; although it would accept an “interim” solution whereby major emerging countries would accept a “road map” and timetable for treaty commitments.

Durban will also be judged by the decisions on Adaptation Framework and Technology mechanism i.e. Climate Technology Center (CTC) and diverse views on National Adaptation plan (NAP).
Let me finish with another quote from Nelson Mandela that I hope will encourage us all to be optimistic while moving forward.  He said,  “There were many dark moments when faith in humanity was sorely tested, but we should not and could not give up to despair.”  On the wisdom of these words, we must secure a mandate for working towards a strong legally binding agreement and for the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol – the only international agreement to cut emissions – if we are to avoid an unfolding disaster.
 

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African Expectations from Durban Climate Talks

Mamady Kobele Keita
Climate change team leader
Guinee Ecologie
Guinea

 

Durban 2011 - COP17 started last Monday, bringing together delegates from the parties to the climate convention (UNFCCC) and global and civil society organisations. For us, from Africa, the most vulnerable continent to the adverse impacts of climate change, the expectation is clear: reach an agreement that will help our poor communities to adapt, whilst maintaining their livelihoods through a sustainable climate funding regime. Indeed, none of the commitment were respected by Annex 1 countries in terms of finance or emissions reduction objectives. And even if the world’s global emissions are under control, we have no guarantee that the current impacts, from the historical emissions, will be reduced. Floods, droughts, and sea-level rise will increase. The situation is becoming worse since some countries have announced their intention to no longer support the Kyoto Protocol, the only binding agreement we have in the UNFCCC process. This is really bad news for the developing countries that are not responsible for the increase of GHG and global warming but are suffering from the adverse impacts to their livelihoods and environment.

So my expectation from these Durban talks is, fundamentally, on institutional arrangements for an efficient, sustainable and scaled-up financing system to help developing countries implement their adaptation programs.

To attain this objective, I’m participating in the process as one of the new recruits to CAN’s capacity building fellowship programme for civil society in the global south. My aims are threefold:

1.  to mainly focus on advocacy directed at developing countries delegates;

2.  to campaign against Annex1 countries who are blocking positions;

3. and to share critical information with developing countries delegates to help them to understand the loopholes contained in the negotiations texts.

As a delegate of the African civil society organisations, I will be sharing information I gather from the negotiations with the thousands of African populations who didn’t get opportunities and/or resources to attend this meeting. To communicate this information I will use Climate Action Network (CAN), the Climate and Development Network mailing list, the Guinean Adaptation Group, the Guinean Sustainable Development NGOs Forum, the mailing list of the national Climate Development Mechanism, and my personal blog (kobele.blogspot.com).

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Hors d'oeuvres or a full course meal for Durban

Lina Li
Consultant
Shanshui Conservation Center
China

 

Sitting in front of gate 24 in Hong Kong’s airport, I await for my flight to South Africa… another COP ….(deep sigh). I'm about to head off to my 3rd COP and the memories of Copenhagen come rushing back – my first COP; that debacle was enough reason for any COP rookie to be pessimistic!  With the complexities on legal form, saving the KP, the endless wrangling over mandate, the Eurozone crisis to the economic depression in the US and around the world generally, it's hard not to be pessimistic in the climate debate.   

But for someone from an NGO dedicated to the Cause, a stronger dose of optimism must over-ride the pessimism to survive the long and painful negotiations.  I live to change the world to a better one, but right now I have mixed feelings about how COP17 will pan out.  Already, my climate-sensitive radar is scanning the contents on the Round Table here in Durban – will it show a display of wholesome dishes or will it be a range of hors doeuvres just enough to wet the appetite, but not to fully satisfy the longing for a FAB deal for our planet.

Ying and Yang – is BIG bad?
As always, I picked up the China Daily as a good 'time killer' during the 3 hours from Beijing to Hong Kong. Surprisingly, it happened to include a 'climate special' -- Minister Xie's news conference on Durban expectations is covered on the first and second page, and four full pages are dedicated to the text of the newly published white paper, 'China's policies and actions for addressing climate change.'

Actually I'm not surprised at all.  The climate is THE topic.  There has been so much at stake for China and the world in the past 20 years and even more so in the past two years. China is watched, with good and bad intentions.  China is learning to respond and to have better interactions with the world.  And Chinese NGOs have a big role to play here in Durban.

I wonder if being BIG as an emerging economy is what's causing China bad press or could BIG simply be a blessing in disguise, much like the rule of ying and yang; we all need to apply balance in our lives, learn to pause... and smell the coffee, to take it easy and share this planet in good faith.

How many last chances?
“WWC calls Durban the 'last opportunity' to act responsibly for climate justice,” this is the title of one of the hundreds of emails I just downloaded. Why it caught my eye was because I think I have been allergic to the term 'last chance' since Copenhagen.  Like the boy that cried wolf, the phrase 'last chance for history'  has left me doubting what's become a COP tradition to call for urgency and ambition.  Are we supposed to be in a marathon fight for the sake of having a fight or should we actually be showing an increased degree of maturity to strategically change the status quo?

Find enemies or provide hope?
How? Everyone who cares about climate change too much to give up on the UNFCCC process has been trying to figure a way out of the maze.  Statistics vary though and a new report by Greenpeace titled “Who is Holding US Back” focuses on blaming the big cooperates in the US who do a good job turning against the process through strong lobbying.  The “UNEP Gap report II” report, on the other hand, offers a top-down and bottom-up analysis on how to fill in the gap between current pledges and what's required by science.  

Beyond your imagination...
My last highlight today is a nice advertisement at the airport on my way to Gate 24.  It's of a small iceberg on top of the ocean level, and underwater is a giant mountain.  I should have taken a photo, but I am sure you can imagine how it exactly looks! “BEYOND your imagination” is the slogan. And the first thing jumped into my head when passing by it was “isn't this climate change? The crisis we are facing?” Probably! But it can be also the new future we create when addressing that TOGETHER. Good luck, everyone! And Good morning, South Africa!
 

CAN Pre-COP Workshop 2011 Announcement

Climate Action Network-International is excited to inform that as part of our ongoing efforts under the Southern Capacity Building program, a "Pre-COP Workshop" will be organized for developing country CAN members in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 19th to 21st October 2011.  About 50 participants will be attending the workshop.

This event is primarily for civil society members in developing countries, and aims to strengthen and work towards a common southern civil society voice within CAN and like minded organisations in the lead up to COP 17.  The event will be building upon the similar and successful pre-COP workshop held last year in Mexico City, which roughly 50 CAN members and partners attended.

We are very excited to be planning this workshop in collaboration with a large variety of CAN members and partners, whose financial support is not only making this event possible but also whose engagement we believe will bring richness to the discussions.  Thus far, we have received commitments of support from the Heinrich Böll Foundation, Bread for the World, Greenpeace International, WWF-International, Oxfam International, the Norwegian Environment ForUM, the Development Fund, the Southern Voices Program consortium and CARE Denmark. We’d like to thank these organizations and partners for their interest in supporting this event!

Main Objectives:
1. Provide space for southern CAN members and other stakeholders to work on a common and unified southern voice for greater influence at the Seventeenth Conference of Parties in Durban.
2. Strengthen the South–South dialogue and discussion in order to support the CAN-International policies to have impact in the climate negotiations through broader understanding and knowledge base.
3. Strengthen and reinforce the connections between the southern civil society members to continue dialogue and strategize for future advocacy and actions in their respective country and regions.
4. Have dialogue and interaction with African governments and/or the African Union.

Program Design
The full focus of the program is on policy framing and influencing the outcome in COP17. Attention will be given to major areas such as: UNFCCC processes, thematic issues discussion (e.g. low carbon development, adaptation, etc.), and institutional strengthening and sharing of country/regional experiences focusing on policy advocacy in the Global South.

Who will Attend?
Developing country CAN members and partners having policy experiences especially related to the UNFCCC process (national, regional and international) are invited. Selected participants will do a preparatory work on their respective national/regional policies before attending the workshop.  And these participants are also expected to share the outcomes of the pre COP workshop once they go back to their home country or regions in order to ensure information is disseminated to wider stakeholders. Participant selection will be inclusive of different regions from the where gender, organisational, country and regional balance will be considered.
 

Sandra Guzman calls on countries to step up ambition

Sandra Guzman calls on countries to step it up

Sandra Guzman
Program Director Air and Energy
Mexican Center of Environmental Law (CEMDA)

Mexico

Panama is the last stop towards the COP17 and is a meeting that should clearly define the future of the climate regime. We are less than a year until the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (2008-2012) is completed, and because of the lack of definition of clear strategies to achieve the emissions reductions needed to combat the problem, this not only risks the failure of the negotiation process, but also risks the survival of humanity.

For me, Panama is not only a stop in the process, but also an opportunity to raise the voice of Latin America that has been so quiet in these negotiations. This is not a lack of willingness of the actors in the region, but rather, there is a lack of human skills and language issues.

There are many actors in the region who wish to participate and contribute with ideas and proposals, however, cultural issues are a barrier for a small percentage of players who also speak English. This hinders their interaction with various actors: other Governments and other international organizations.

Therefore, we need to take into account that climate change will affect us all and that means we all have to make efforts to address the problem, it is not enough to simply recognize that there are different views in the process. It is necessary to create the mechanisms to achieve the understanding between actors and then build a common language that allows us to address the underlying problems.

In Panama, we should leave with a clear message that there will be consolidated climate regime to establish clarity on the future of the Kyoto Protocol, as well as definitions and clarity on key issues such as technology transfer, capacity building, adaptation and others that are vitally important to move forward. Without doubt, one of the great needs that must be addressed is the definition of clear targets for reducing emissions, both by developed countries and developing countries, which play a key role in the scheme of emissions and they are positioned as future leaders of the problem.

The goal of stabilizing emissions at 450 ppm to avoid a temperature rise more than 2 ºC, is necessary and we can not afford to reduce that ambition. We are at a critical juncture; we cannot allow countries to put aside what brought us to negotiate the future of mankind and not individual interests and diversions that do nothing but deepen the problem.

Taking into account all of these, the other important issue that is a key point to achieve all of this is the financing mechanisms. Where the money is going to come from? How we are going to guarantee the creation of a strong architecture, but with money inside? This is a crucial issue in Panama and is surely going to be a key point in Durban.

Time is running out and with it the lives of many people worldwide. Everyone needs to wake up and push to make things happen. We cannot continue in this scheme of vagueness and lack of will. We cannot wait. Government, business, academia and organizations cannot let the erratic visions take over the discussions. It is our commitment to make things happen, and it is our commitment that this is done better.

The next challenge is to bring this to the national level and try to get everyone domestically to discuss the implementation of public policies in our countries. I have been working in the strengthening of a climate policy in my country, México, preparing suggestions, studies and talking with key actors. My roll in México is to make things happen by having dialogues with the legislative power, the federal government, local governments, academy and civil society. We have already achieved the allocation of 300 million dollars to go towards fighting climate change, which is not enough, so we will push for more.
 

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MRV works for me!

Jiayi Xu: MRV works for me

Jiayi Xu
Programme Officer
Institute for Environment and Development (IED)
China

Since February this year, I started my career in climate change. After an orientation from my supervisor FEI Xiaojing, the former South Capacity Building fellow of CAN-International, I started my participation in the CAN Measureable, Reportable and Verifiable (MRV) working group. The Bonn intersession was the starting point for me to get insight into my job. Panama is the second stop for my career to increase my understanding. However, compared to Bonn session, I am much clearer about the area in which I am interested.

There are many issues within MRV that are cross-cutting with other issues, but I am particularly interested in the framework of MRV. Personally, my expectation for Panama is to learn more about International Assessment and Review (IAR) for developed countries and International Consultation and Analysis (ICA) for developing countries. For the negotiations, my expectation for this intersession is to see the discussion of design, accounting rules, and components needed to get covered; most importantly, capacity building for MRV in developing countries. If the discussion continues, in Durban, it is highly possible to have some outcomes of the guidelines and timetable for IAR and ICA.

In Panama, I participated in the discussion in the CAN MRV working group to continue learning. Due to the clash with some important meetings, I have not attended informal meetings about MRV, which I planned to do. However, by attending CAN meetings, I am able to keep myself updated for MRV issues. Meanwhile, I attended side events to hear about some technical MRV issues, including accounting rules, systems, and tools.

The discussion about IAR and ICA tools and MRV capacity building are important in Panama. The MRV issue might achieve progressive outcomes in Durban COP17 if enough progress is made in Panama. Panama is the last intersessional before the COP, and any continuing discussion about MRV can be a positive signal to progress this issue. For example, the discussion about capacity building for developing country in ICA accommodates the feasibility and ability for developing countries to conduct an MRV process. The ‘dream’ of an MRV process is to ensure environmental integrity, collaborative work, and transparency of accounting for emissions in each country.

 

When I started work on MRV, I did not realize what this issues was all about and what it meant to track negotiations. Apart from my work on MRV, I also do adaptation research in vulnerable areas around climate change in western China. And I love it much more than tracking the MRV issue. Between Panama and Bonn, I continued my researche by interviewing farmers when visiting local communities. Once I was in a village in southwest China, where there used to be plenty of precipitation in summer carried over from East Asia and the Indian monsoons. This year it only rained three times, resulting in severe drought. A 70 year-old farmer said to me, “I have just been following the cultivating methods that I inherited from previous generations, it worked for decades. I have been kind and moral in my life. Why do I get this punishment? Please tell me how it happens and where I went wrong.” The punishment he referred to is that all the rice died in the fields because of the drought. He lost the major income resource for the year. Just before I arrived, he made a decision to harvest the rice 3 months earlier than usual and feed it to the livestock he kept, while waiting for help from the government. The women (in the picture above) experienced the same situation and made the same decision. I really wanted to say that it is not them that cause climate change, but it’s the whole world. It is not him, who only has one lamp and one television consuming electricity, that induces climate change. It is everyone in the cities, where there are energy-intensive industries that are the problem. Some countries in the world contribute more to his “punishment” than others. On my way back to my office, I realized a transparent monitoring system for countries to achieve environmental integrity is vital, and that is exactly the difficult issue I am now working on, MRV.

After that, I rescheduled my work plans and am balancing between tracking negotiations and my community adaptation research.  Now, I have a reason and a mission to be in Panama and see a point in devoting my time to the research of MRV. Rationally, it is impossible to end his “punishment” in the near future, but I still hope he will live a happy and prosperous life. I will continue my work, for adaptation, for MRV, for climate change.
 

Human Misery, if Business as Usual at Panama Climate Talks

Isaac Kabongo speaks about adaptation in Africa

Isaac Kabongo
Executive Director
Ecological Christian Organisation (ECO)
Uganda

The United Nations declared that 11.5m people currently need humanitarian assistance across East Africa and many more could join them. The BBC reported that millions in Somalia and across the Horn of Africa face dire food shortages due to the worst regional drought for decades. On Tell Me More today, Al-Jazeera English correspondent, Azad Essa, told host Michel Martin that "in a word, the situation is quite horrific." The Horn of Africa region is now full of environmental refugees who do not have real hope in this real world. Their hope could be in the climate talks in Panama City that represent the best and last chance to get climate change negotiations back on track and prepare for a legally binding agreement at COP17 in Durban, South Africa.

In Uganda, the impacts of climate change are continuing without serious interventions to help vulnerable communities to cope. The recent emergence of landslides in areas without such history is leaving communities isolated, their survival networks and social structures weakened. On March 2 2010 over 358 people were killed by landslides at Nametsi Village, Bududa district, in Eastern Uganda. Landslides killed more 50 people in Bulambuli district, towards the end of August 2011 in Eastern Uganda.  This is a region hit by drought, with many requiring food aid following the lack of April-May rain, these torrential rains, flooding and landslides are crippling the ability of communities to overcome poverty. Climate change impacts are making it even worse for communities to meet their needs and the government of Uganda to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), reduce poverty, and enhance human development. For us in Uganda, the parties attending the climate change talks in Panama City should come up with a text on long-term finance, which should be easily accessed by vulnerable Countries like Uganda.

Environmental protection is necessary to prevent climate change disasters in many countries from getting worse. In Panama City, measures must be taken to accommodate the needs of environmental refugees through expanding finance, technology, and capacity building commitments to developing countries. There is also need by parties to strengthen counting rules and methodologies to eliminate loopholes and explore innovative approaches to close the mitigation gap. Developed countries, therefore, should increase the ambition of their mitigation commitments unconditionally because of their historical responsibility.  The Kyoto Protocol should be extended to the second commit period and attempts should be made to desist from failing to reach a legally binding climate change regime in Durban, South Africa, in December at the final UN Climate Talks of 2011. It is also important to note that the cost of inaction in clear and the future of the next generation is at a crossroad.

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Drought in Ethiopia Requires Financing From Developed Countries...Do It by Durban!

Mahlet Eyassu: what is needed on climate finance this year.

Photo Credit: Manjeet Dhakal

Mahlet Eyassu
Climate Change Program Manager
Forum for Environment
Ethiopia

We are now in Panama, for the intersessional which is the last meeting before the Conference of the Parties (COP) in Durban. The 17th COP will be in Durban, South Africa, which make this a very important COP for Africa.  Africa along with Least Developed Countries and the Small Island States are the most vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change. Even though Ethiopia is one of the least developed countries that is showing a rapid economic growth, it is still being affected by drought.

At the moment the Horn of Africa, including Ethiopia, is confronted with recurring climate change related disasters, in particular prolonged droughts and floods. This drought is said to be the worst in 60 years. Drought is not something new for Ethiopia nor the Horn. However, it has become more recurrent and severe in the last decades.  Climate change is making the matters and problems worse for us who are under-developed.

In order to address the impacts of climate change, countries are negotiating under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In its 15th and 16th meetings an agreement was reached that developed countries will be supporting adaptation and mitigation actions of developing countries. We are now approaching the end of 2011, where the fast start finance of $30 billion for the years 2010-2012 is about to end. The other decision we have is the one on long-term finance to mobilize $100 billion by 2020. So far there are no pledges from the developed countries for the year 2013 and onwards.  That is a worry for us coming from the developing world. We have learned some lessons from the fast start finance, which is not new and not additional to the ODA, but is just relabeled as climate finance, given in the form of loans instead of grants. There is an imbalance between adaptation and mitigation with more money going to mitigation actions instead of adaptation.

Forty member countries of the transitional committee are designing the Green Climate Fund (GCF) of whose works will be presented in Durban to be approved by the Conference of Parties (COP).  However, most developed countries do not want to have any form of discussion on long-term finance which is supposed to fill this fund. With all of these climate related disasters happening in most parts of the world, especially developing countries being the most vulnerable and having no capacity to adapt, adaptation finance is very crucial for us. It is a matter of survival and should be taken seriously by others. Developed countries need to get more serious and commit themselves to discuss the sources of finance that will feed into the new fund. If we want an outcome in Durban, most discussions and texts need to happen here in Panama.

It is good to note that, developing countries at the local and national level are also working to raise funds for their adaptation and mitigation actions. In my organization back home, Forum for Environment-Ethiopia, we have started an initiative to raise funds, which can be used for some local adaptation actions. We have started implementing the green tax initiative in which 1% of our salaries are deducted every month. We have done this for the past year and have raised small amount, which has not been used yet. Now we want this to be taken up by other organizations at the country-level to show our commitments by raising more money and taking  local initiatives. We have started the process of engaging others to hopefully have a larger impact. Progress in Panama in all issues, especially finance, is very important for us to achieve something in the African COP in Durban.
 

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Vulnerable groups are making much progress in adapting to climate change, but where we are in Panama through to Durban?

Wanun Permpibul on flooding in Thailand

Photo 1 - Photo credit: Forests and Farmers Foundation, 2011

Photos 2-4 - Photo credit: HBS Southeast Regional Office, 2011

Wanun Permpibul
Head, Energy and Climate Change Programme
Renewable Energy Institute of Thailand Foundation
Thailand

Climate change is already a threat.  Extreme and unprecedented climatic events are affecting poor communities already and they have little capacity to adapt.  They have already been affected by economic and social injustice as well as other difficulties and climate change is adding another burden to their existing problems.  Adaptive capacity needs to be strengthened while longterm adaptation is necessary and must be enhanced.

A few months before the Panama Climate Talks, provinces in the lower Northern Region of Thailand, particularly Pitsanulok Province, were hit severely by floods.  Paddy fields, orchards, houses were flooded and destroyed.  People died and went missing.  Flood levels even rose up to their roofs.  Most of the houses were submerged.  Boats were floating up to the first floor of the house while residents had to stay on the second floor.  Some had to leave their houses temporarily.  Some villagers were bitten by poisonous snakes and scorpions, others were faced with infections on their feet, and other disease.  Not only are their houses and paddy fields inundated, but other resources that could be sources of income are also damaged.

As a matter of fact, villages here are flooded every year during the wet season, but the current floods are extraordinary in the sense that rainfall came two months earlier this year in a very heavy and lasting pattern before the rice could be harvested.  This is the second time for Bang Rakam Subdistrict that the rains have come earlier, the last time was in 2000 and in 1995 for the Jom Thong Subdistrict.  During the floods, villagers could not harvest, and thus were unable to earn any income.  Communities were not warned and informed well in advance enough of the floods and were not able to prepare for it.  Floods have lasted for longer periods of time.  Previously, they lasted for two months, but now it has been almost three months.  The government was trying to solve the floods problem using a traditional top down approach: they flushed out the water from the areas, but then found this created a flooding problem in another area.  

Rather than waiting for humanitarian aid and the government’s help, communities implemented their own responses to the floods and have been adjusting themselves to the climatic changes.  These are their homes for generations and they do not want to leave.  Some couldn’t afford to move elsewhere.  Their responses include changing the crop calendar by starting to grow rice months earlier than usual.  They will have to observe natural signs using their local knowledge to predict the climate pattern each year in order to prevent massive loss to crops.  Some have initiated a rice bank to store traditional rice varieties that are pest and flood tolerant with longer stalks that will not be damaged by floods.  Some have tried to grow different rice varieties in higher land or even in orchard fields.  Some have prepared for food insecurity by recovering endangered food species that are floods resistant.  Also, the pattern of housing architecture has been changed.  Many villagers have lifted their houses higher from the ground to free the flow of water.  Some even have boats to ease their travelling.  They also have learned to store some food and drinking water, and other necessities.

Additionally, they have built their own reservoirs to store water for farm use and nurturing some fish species.  They have looked for alternatives for income generation like catching fish and snakes, during floods.  Some have initiated a communication system to ease information flow during the floods among those located up-, middle- and down-stream river.  The system could also help mobilize immediate needs and supports among each other.  This should be further developed to enhance preparedness and prevent massive losses longterm.  Apart from the immediate responses, communities have been engaged in a planning process for longterm adaptation to future impacts of climatic change.  Initially, they came up with an idea of constructing an improved flood protection, but it would require significant funds and take lots of time.  Also, more research on flood tolerant species is needed.  All these elements for longterm adaptation require funds and external supports.

The Panama Talks are, therefore, important.  The delay in taking ambitious reduction targets would mean more severe and frequent extreme climatic events and poor communities will be hit the most.  As Pitsanulok, Thailand and others are faced now with the impacts, longterm adaptation is really needed.  We need to massively scale-up support for adaptation actions to cover full implementation of National Adaptation Action Strategies and Plans, from immediate to longterm actions, that will deliver regular flows of financial and other support for adaptation planning, implementation and monitoring. These should be in the form of predictable periodic grant installments and help is needed to facilitate, enable and support generation, gathering and dissemination of data, knowledge and experiences, including traditional knowledge on adaptation planning and practices.  Building upon what was agreed in Cancun – the Cancun Adaptation Framework – the creation of an Adaptation Committee under the UNFCCC will have to provide an oversight of streams of adaptation work, where the Committee should comprise members of civil society and experts in each necessary field.  This will have to be achieved in Panama so that it can be finalized in Durban in December.  

Communities are faced with hardship and are simply attempting to survive.  They might or might not know that the disasters and unpredictable patterns of rainfalls are as a result of climate change or anthropogenic emissions, but changes are happening and affecting their livelihoods and most of all, they need to live with these.   Those in Panama are well equipped with all the science, they need to make more progress.  Community voices must be heard.

          
 

Negotiating (iphone) Technology On The Way To Durban

Manjeet Dhakal on the Technology Mechanism

Manjeet Dhakal
Clean Energy Nepal
Program Director
Nepal

 

One of my hobbies that I love is to use new and recently developed applications and technologies. On my last birthday, I was blessed with an 'iphone' from my colleague. I was very excited that day; I threw party on the same night when I got my iphone via DHL. Also credit goes to DHL for its service up to my far-flung apartment. And also I am grateful to my friend, that's the nicest thing that anyone's ever done for me. Otherwise, I would have never got chance to use such a wonderful thing, which would have cost almost six months of my personnel expenses in Nepal. As I remember now, I don’t know how that 'full iphone-week' passed; it felt like I was flying-up above Himalayas most of the time. My excitement continued when by the weekend, when my younger sister, studying civil engineering, asked me to find a map of our town on my iphone for her project work. Another hit was when my laureate brother asked me to find the meaning of some familiar Nepalese words, however, either my iphone does not support my language or not I could type on it. The next day I went to a local mobile service center on my town and discussed my problem with them. They tried all the possible solutions they could think of: they connected it with other devices, they installed and uninstalled software, but all of their efforts ruined root and branch.

Now, while having discussions with the friendly delegates here in Panamá, I realize that the Technology Executive Committee (TEC) has become like my friend (who gave me the iphone) and Climate Technology Centers and Network (CTCN) is like the service center in my town. Sometimes when the technology discussion is about service delivery, these institutions also seem like DHL, who did the hard job of delivering my iphone up to my apartment.

On the other side, the Technology Mechanism at Cancun was established to set-up institutions, which will help to protect the vulnerable from climate change and to deploy the money and technologies that developing countries need to plan and build their own sustainable futures. The Technology Executive Committee is foreseen as the policy arm and the Climate Technology Centre and Network as the mechanism’s implementation component. Its overarching goal was to sharpen the focus, step-up the pace, and expand the scope of environmentally-sound technology development and transfer to developing countries in a highly qualitative way.

Whereas, here, in Panama when the parties are tossing about the criteria and host of Climate Technology Center, we should request DHL to apply for it. The service delivery is well appreciated and it has outreached to all parts of world. And the important thing is that it will not charge a flat 10% of it service like some of our home institutions (banks and other sisters of the UNFCCC). Oh, but it may not have a good understanding about what adaptation is and where as it has greatly contributed to mitigating the cause of climate change.   

Then I realize, it's of no use to use those technologies which do not have local applications and applications that are not of your use. Take the example of my iphone; the company has filed more than 200 patent applications related to the technology, which seems to be preventing the over-reach of its own technology. Actually such right should have to retain a public balance in property rights and support its promotion. As decided in Cancun in order to make the Technology Mechanism fully operational in 2012, criteria and host of the Climate Technology Center and Network (CTCN) need to be finalized here at Panamá or very soon, so that, after Durban, we can focus on activities related to implementation, and more specifically deployment and diffusion of environmentally sound technologies.    
 

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