Adaptation Practitioner Days at UN Climate Negotiations: Closing the Communication Gap!

Climate change once more attracts the attention of Heads of States, country negotiators, civil society, the private sector and individuals from around the globe as we approach the 18th Conference of the Parties (COP 18) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to be held in Doha, Qatar, in only 2 weeks. One may hypothesize that the very  diversity of backgrounds that participants bring to the conference exemplifies one of the main problems of the climate negotiations – how can fruitful communication really be enabled to unify the different areas of work in climate change?

The world will be watching closely as Party countries negotiate in the official climate change negotiations of the international community, over a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, which to date is the only legally binding multilateral climate treaty and will expire at the end of 2012 –if it’s not extended by the Parties. Some countries, however, have already signaled their unwillingness to commit to such an extension, and the greater hope of many thus lies in the Durban Platform, a legislative wild card under which climate mitigation will be regulated from 2020 onwards.

Another highlight of this year’s negotiations will be the official endorsement of the Republic of Korea as the host of the Green Climate Fund, a newly established financial mechanism under the Convention, which aims to channel up to $100 billion for climate change mitigation and adaptation from 2020 and therefore seeks to become the main global fund for climate finance. At the moment, however, the Green Climate Fund is still in the design phase, triggering questions about its business model and financing approach.

Since the Green Climate Fund’s mandate is to assist developing countries in their effort to follow low-emission and climate-resilient development pathways by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and by adapting to the adverse impacts of climate change, it will be essential for the fund in order to be successful that it will take into account the tremendous experience that has already been gained on these matters elsewhere. In the case of adaptation, this includes the Global Environment Facility’s Least Developed Countries Fund and Special Climate Change Fund, as well as the Clean Development Mechanism’s Adaptation Fund and the World Bank’s Climate Investment Funds.

The launch of the Green Climate Fund, however, is only one of many reasons why it is important for those international organizations involved in climate change to showcase their experience in the implementation of adaptation projects. Other reasons include, for instance, that many people still seem to not really understand what adaptation to climate change actually means in practice. The concept of adaptation seems to be of rather abstract nature to some, in fact obscure, opening up a knowledge gap between on-the-ground practitioners and others, including diplomats and scientists.

In Doha, there will be a great opportunity to close this gap, as the Adaptation Practitioner Days, a two-day event in the middle of the two negotiation weeks, will be organized to showcase on-the-ground adaptation projects financed under the UNFCCC Climate Change Funds, the Least Developed Countries Fund and the Special Climate Change Fund. The Adaptation Practitioner Days will answer the question: “what is adaptation in practice?” by racking up the experience of concrete adaptation actions from the field and by sharing lessons learned from over 10 years of adaptation. The event will be hosted by the Global Environment Facility in collaboration with the Climate and Development Days of the International Red Cross/ Red Crescent Climate Center (RCCC) and the Climate Development and Knowledge Network (CDKN).