TWN Info Service on Climate Change (Mar14/05)
14 March 2014
Third World Network

UNFCCC: Technologies for adaptation workshop makes recommendations

Bonn, 13 March (Hilary Chiew) – The first workshop on technologies for adaptation under the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) was held by the Technology Executive Committee (TEC) in collaboration with the Adaptation Committee (AC) on 4 March.

The meeting identified potential areas of actions and topics for technology briefs (called TEC briefs) that can be prepared jointly by the two committees. In addition, ithe areas of work for the TEC were listed, including collaboration with the AC to assist in the effective development and transfer of technologies for adaptation.

The meeting also identified recommendations that can be made by the TEC to policy makers to enhance the development and transfer of technologies for adaptation as well as recommendations that can be submitted jointly by the TEC and the AC to the UNFCCC’s Conference of the Parties (COP).

Opening the workshop, the executive secretary of the UNFCCC, Christiana Figueres, said policy on adaptation is absolutely fundamental but the technologies and their financing are more important.  She said it is not enough to have commitment to adaptation at the political level when making a difference on the ground is the only thing that really counts.

During question time, AC member Amjad Abdulla (Maldives) highlighted the dilemma faced by his country’s request for a coastal protection project which was rejected as it is not counted as climate protection but infrastructure. He questioned what qualifies to be financed, adding that it is easy to quantify mitigation but not adaptation.

Another AC member, Tomasz Chruszczow (Poland) commented that adaptation means different things to different nations and that everybody is exposed to the threat of climate change. We just need to acknowledge that this is a universal problem and we have to be open and debate whether my experience will benefit somebody else.

In response, Figueres said she agreed with both of them as they are talking of the same thing. She said the purpose of adaptation is to support the well being of communities and the only way to develop is to mainstream adaptation.

In her speech, AC Chair Margaret Mukhanana-Sangarwe (Zimbabwe) said the AC knows it needs to work with other committees especially the TEC. Without means of implementation, we cannot make a difference in practice, adding that we have to give technology to people who need to make the difference.

Setting the context and expectation of the workshop, TEC member Kunihiko Shimada (Japan) outlined the focus of the discussions: lessons learnt, success and failure stories; enablers and barriers; experiences of various stakeholders; overview of work of various relevant bodies; and areas of work and topics for TEC briefs.

AC Chair Mukhanana-Sangarwe in presenting the current and future work of the AC noted that COP18 (Doha) adopted its three-year workplan which includes coherence and collaboration on adaptation related issues under and outside of the Convention as well as activities related to means of implementation.

She further said to enhance collaboration, the AC has provided input into the TEC’s efforts to develop adaptation technology briefs, including the design and implementation of this workshop, adding that a range of areas have been identified for future collaboration with the TEC in all of the AC’s workstreams.

The AC, she said, will draw on the outputs of the TEC and findings of the Technology Needs Assessments reports for the its work on national adaptation planning, including a forthcoming information paper and the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) Taskforce, a specialised ad hoc working group under the AC which also has one member from the TEC (Albert Binger of Jamaica was nominated for this role at the recently-concluded TEC8 session).

The UNFCCC Secretariat presented the Third Synthesis Report of the technology needs assessment (TNA) of non-Annex 1 Parties for adaptation, pointing out that the most commonly prioritised sectors are agriculture, water resources, infrastructure and settlements (including coastal zone) and the prioritisation of technologies for these three sectors.

It also noted that the most frequently identified adaptation barriers were economic and financial barriers, followed by policy, legal and regulatory barriers, lack of institutional and organizational capacity, human skills, technical, social, cultural and behavioural, access to information and awareness.

For agriculture, the most commonly identified enablers to address these barriers were the creation of national financial mechanisms or policies (65%) and the creation of an allowance in the national budget for this technology, including promotion of R&D (50%).

It also highlighted that although agriculture and water sectors were dominant issues for adaptation, there were regional differences. In Africa, these two sectors amounted to 95% of the chosen sectors but in Latin America and the Caribbean, they accounted for 47%. In the agricultural sector, the African Parties focused strongly on conservation agriculture but they and the Asian Parties also prioritised technologies for the development of new crop varieties.

In presenting the Background Paper on Technologies for Adaptation, Dr Saleemul Huq of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) pointed out that there are examples of technology actions plans for adaptation technology but it is not clear to what extent these have been implemented.

Co-presenter Helena Wright said in assessing barriers to adaptation technologies, it is important to recognise there are limits to adaptation technologies. For example, there are physiological or bio-physical limits, human and informational resource-based limits relating to knowledge, technological and finance, as well as psycho-social barriers.

She noted that in the TNA process under the UNFCCC, almost all Parties (97%) identified economic/financial; policy/legal and regulatory barriers; institutional/organizational-related; and technical barriers to development and transfer of technologies for adaptation. Within the category of economic barriers, most Parties (90%) identified inadequate access to finance as the main barrier.

On barriers for technology development and transfer, she pointed out that barriers can be context-specific, which demonstrates the need to tailor policies to local needs.

However, other barriers to adaptation technologies are global or cross-cutting, such as trade regulations or intellectual property rights (IPRs). Governments can only act on national barriers, so the evidence of global barriers to adaptation technologies demonstrates the need for greater international collaboration, she added.

The presenters concluded the following:

–  experience under the Convention shows the need to scale up finance for adaptation and need for better integration between processes (e.g. NAPs/TNAs) as well as mainstreaming into development;

– structured approach to TNAs may have left out important cross-cutting issues;
–  need to consider broader enabling environment e.g. policies, trade regulations, IPR issues, regional cooperation (e.g. building capacity of meteorological departments);
–  lessons learnt from three sectors show the need for a people-centred approach, collaborative learning, considering systemic approach (including considering socio-political issues);
–  adaptation as a learning process; the need for flexibility and adaptive management
–  need for technology assessment to avoid maladaptation.

AC Chair Mukhanana-Sangarwe (Zimbabwe) said the struggle for most developing countries, particularly those in Africa, in terms of adaptation is to reverse the agriculture knowledge and systems that were introduced by their colonial masters particularly monoculture, and people are resistant towards going back to the traditional systems. She said further that soft technologies (such as farming practices and water conservation) could be found in the South-south flow and even South-North while hard technologies (like infrastructure and crop varieties) are flowing in the North-South direction.

Christina Chan (the United States) said collaboration between stakeholders helped to overcome barriers and it is a question of replicating the success factors such as strong local institutions and funding.

Klaus Radunsky (Austria) said the UNFCCC is not alone in addressing adaptation as there is a lot going on outside the Convention, noting that the UNISDR (the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction) and the process to follow-up on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are processes where climate change has a prominent presence. He said we should capitalise on those processes to overcome deficit in adaptation, adding that we should not misuse limited resources in order to move forward.

In reply, Saleemul Huq said there is a growing body of researchers working on climate change adaptation at the grassroots and communities level looking at both indigenous and modern science, connecting local work to the national and global level. He said the research communities are learning a lot about adaptation deficit and for a start is dealing with maladaptation; not just coping with impacts but also leading to development. He also pointed out that there is a deficit in terms of finance for implementation of NAPA (National Adaptation Programme of Actions) where billions were asked but the provisions were only in the millions.

Juan Hoffmaister (Bolivia) said he hoped to capture recommendations from this workshop to fulfil the AC mandate. Therefore, he urged experts and others not to limit their discussion to what the TEC can do. He also wanted participants to make the distinct nuance between technologies for adaptation and adaptation technologies where we need to understand the interactions and keep in mind that technology can also lead to maladaptation and it is important to look at them in the context of sustainable development.

He also called for a different approach on indigenous knowledge where it is not a question of transfer but to enhance and update them and what are the lessons learnt that can upscale indigenous technologies.

Furthermore, he said technology assessment is important not just from the TNA approach but what does one really need. In terms of support for the private sector, he said we need to think of private sector in a broader dimension, noting that farmers’ associations in developed countries are essentially private sector.

Saleemul Huq responded that scaling up of good pilots in the tens of thousands (about hundreds at the moment), policy intervention and sharing of knowledge and finance at national and international level is needed.

Kunihiko Shimada (Japan) said we need clarity on the terminology and big words like IPRs and technology assessment of which the latter matter is new to his knowledge.

Kryzsztof Klincewicz (Poland) said we need to move to actions and not be mired in semantic discussions. He encouraged participants to refer to a 2006 Expert Group on Technology Transfer (EGTT) report and suggested combining the two reports (the other being the 3rd Synthesis Report on TNAs) as a starting point. He said TEC been action-oriented and it is doing this based on hard evidence and sound reasoning. With regards to technology assessment in the context of TNAs, he said it is a good starting point to look into adaptation technologies whether the technology is right, and the particular country has made the right decision.

He also noted that in many areas, we can use technologies that are readily available hence reducing the need for capacity building, rather than focusing on hard technologies from elsewhere.

He further pointed out that the 2006 EGTT report had identified lots of opportunities for collaboration and there is a need to focus on specific examples. On private sector, citing an experience in Jordan, he said the private small and medium-sized enterprises were the change agents.

Sumaya Ahmed Zakieldeen (Sudan) in sharing her experience in the Sudanese TNA team said the TNA guidelines are very challenging to implement as there are demands for unnecessary details and restriction to not more than eight technologies. She suggested seeking input from countries that use the guidelines with a view to improve it. We need something really practical, she said, and believed that integrating TNA into the on-going processes like NAPs will be very challenging.

Daniel Buria Clark (Mexico) pointed out that there is need to strengthen our analytical structure to help in decision making and Parties will eventually need to argue where finance is allocated.

Naser Moghaddasi (Iran) said each ecosystem has its own dimension, limitation and threshold of bearing the adaptation application which we could call the adaptation carrying capacity. He wondered if the emissions go on as it is and beyond the carrying capacity what could be the technologies for adaptation.

Saleemul Huq said we have to recognise the problem that we have to deal with unavoidable impacts and that it started off in the most vulnerable countries and now rich countries realised that they have to adapt, highlighting the millions of pounds the United Kingdom is spending domestically compared to its contribution to the Least Developed Countries Fund.

He also noted that we do not have good mechanism for South-South cooperation. We do not have much direct connection but instead we connect via the North.

The workshop also saw presentations of Case studies, success/failure stories, barriers and enabling factors to the successful implementation of technologies for adaptation and Addressing gaps and challenges: how to sustainably upscale the development and transfer of adaptation technologies.

The presentations are available here:

TEC consideration of adaptation

On 6 March (Day Two of the eighth TEC meeting), the summary from the break out group discussions on potential areas of actions and recommendations by TEC and identification of topics for TEC briefs was presented by Omedi Moses Jura (Kenya).

On the area of work for the TEC including collaboration with the AC, five categories were identified, namely knowledge management and information sharing; policy/regulation; strengthening the TNA and TAP processes; technical and analytical; and, monitoring and evaluation.

On recommendations by the TEC to policy-makers as well as recommendations that can be submitted jointly by the TEC and the AC to the COP, nine were listed. They are:

  1. develop a framework approach as a basis for policy recommendations;
  2. involve local governments and communities in developing and implementing adaptation actions;
  3. provide financial incentives for developing and implementing technologies for adaptation;
  4. include climate change in the national planning;
  5. look at adaptation in connection with other aspect of people lives;
  6. move from process to implementation and investment;
  7. present technology needs (soft and hard technologies) , with some standards to obtain financial support from government or investors/financiers;
  8. more resources on R&D, while at the same time demonstrate how R&D will be useful on the ground;
  9. build capability/capacity on the ground, transfer and build know-how that can help trigger behavioural changes.

Eight possible topics were identified for TEC briefs or papers that can be prepared jointly by the TEC and the AC:

  1. risk management approaches (how to implement and use) for adaptation actinos, including policy recommendations;
  2. share good practices and success stories on technologies for adaptation;
  3. complementarity of hard, soft and orgware for successful development and transfer of technologies for adaptation;
  4. guidelines/brief on taking projects from pilot stage through lesson learning, information products to replication;
  5. up-scaling successful technology for adaptation projects – ‘’low hanging fruits’’;
  6. analysis on the best ‘’solutions’’ for three prioritised areas based on TNA (agriculture, water, infrastructure and settlement);
  7. technologies for adaptation in public health sector;
  8. options available to enhance climate information services

Members of the TEC were generally satisfied with the workshop outcome.

Griffin Thompson (the United States) said we made a good and successful first step in our first foray into activities with another body under the Convention as shown by the result of the workshop and would like TEC to build on the ideas that came out from the workshop.

Karma Tshering (Bhutan) said we are talking about sharing of experiences through failures and successes. From that perspective, he said we have lots of Technology Adaptation Plans being developed and we need to implement some of the TAPs as soon as possible to see if the technologies are really working and gain the experiences.

Albert Binger (Jamaica) said items 6 and 7 for TEC briefs speak to the heart of this whole matter of identifying the technologies and what kind of agriculture, adding that it would require certain level of details  and addressing the different aspect of agriculture such as soil fertility, pests, water resources, saline intrusion etc. As for adaptation in public health sector, he highlighted the challenge posed by geographical regions, adding that we must produce user-friendly briefs.

Griffin Thompson (the United States) agreed with Binger and envisioned a series of TEC briefs that are relevant to our stakeholders, adding that the workshop provided the idea for a compendium of practitioners that can be recommended to the Climate Technology Centre and Network.

TEC Chair Gabriel Blanco (Argentina) said the taskforce for adaptation can continue delivering on ideas for the briefs.