COP21 SIDE EVENT: NAPS - Changing the way we work and benchmarking success

Dec 4, 2015, Paris, France: A side event was held in Paris during the COP21 Climate Conference to discuss the progress made by countries with the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) process.
As one of the key adaptation strategies developed under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the NAP process helps countries to conduct comprehensive medium to long-term climate adaptation planning. Many developing countries are already building the foundations for this. Representatives from the governments from Uganda, Viet Nam, Uruguay, Zambia, Japan and Government of Germany were invited to share country experiences on this subject.  The Adaptation Committee joined experts from the U.N. Environmental Programme (UNEP), U.N. Development Programme (UNDP), Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. (FAO), the Global Water Partnership (GWP), to draw on their experiences to explain key challenges and recommendations. Mr.Pradeep Kurukulasuriya, Head, Climate Adaptation, UNDP GEF moderated the discussion.

Challenge 1:Raising awareness in addressing climate change adaptation

“In Japan, when one talks about climate change, people will think it’s about mitigation, not adaptation.” says Mr. Kotaro Kawamata, representing the Government of Japan. As Japan recently launched its National Adaptation Plan, Mr. Kawamata shared their insight on the challenges they faced during the process. Understanding what adaptation is and the uncertainties of it is crucial to make the NAP process work. Japan is one of the donors supporting the NAP work in the Caribbeans and at global level, building on its experience with past initiatives such as the Africa Adaptation Programme.
FAO echoed the need to raise awareness in local governments by calling for a “paradigm shift” in countries. “Ministries love strategizing but not learning,” says Martin Frick, Director of Climate, Energy and Tenure Division of FAO, “ we need to learn (…) the effects of climate change are silent and deadly, we need to invest in adaptation in agriculture. It brings added value and additional benefits, such as gender, mitigation and food security. Adaptation projects will help to inject political energy back into the UNFCCC »
For Uruguay, where 70% of the economy is dependent on agriculture, explaining adaptation to farmers is done by talking about extreme weather events. “Farmers understand draughts,” says Mr. Walter Oyhantcabal, Coordinator of the Climate Change Unit. at the Ministry of Agriculture of Uruguay, According to him, convincing the ministries to invest in adaptation is a no-regret strategy, as it helps farmers to increase productivity and reduce vulnerability. Ms. Karen Tscherning, from the German Federal Mininistry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), underscored the importance of the agriculture sector as being one of the most climate sensitive sectors, and stressed the growing importance of adaptation strategies to assist countries to cope with climate risk.

Challenge 2: Country-driven Plans

The National Adaptation Plan Global Support Programme (NAP-GSP) is set up to assist the Least Developed Countries to advance their NAP processes. One of the main things countries ask the programme personnel is  - where do they start? According to UNDP’s Rohini Kohli, it is important for countries to conduct a stocktaking exercise and follow the recommendations. She said, “Countries should stocktake the information they already have, the adaptation measures used in the ground, initiatives that have already started. Stocktaking reports provide a good synthesis of the information they already have: climate-related data, policies, funding, capacity needs.”
In Zambia, the country ownership of the NAP process is demonstrated by the government using the existing systems. Local communities, even down to the villages, are taking part in the development of projects. In Viet Nam, a national strategy for climate change is already set up, which helps policies to connect from the national level to subnational levels. Various ministries are involved in the process.

Challenge 3: Institutional Coordination

Inter-agency cooperation was difficult even for Japan during the formulation of their NAP, according to Kotaro. In Uganda, even though the NAP process is headed by the Ministry of Water and Environment, the Ministry of Planning is engaged in developing mainstreaming guidelines. 

Ms. Anna Nkeza from the Ministry of Agriculture of Uganda siaid, "It is important to involve all stakeholders and networks along with district and local governments. We should also involve the Ministry of Finance, as there is a need to develop big/bankable programmes to finance the initiatives.”

Zambia has been trying to mainstream climate change adaptation into its national development plan. They have built an institutional structure that is “conducive to mainstream as the Climate Change Secretariat is under the Ministry of Finance”, says Ms. Tasila Banda from the Government of Zambia.

Germany’s International Climate Initiative supports many ecosystem-based adaptation (EBA) projects, but most farmers and the Agricultural Ministry were not involved. Germany is now one of the biggest donors for the NAP agriculture project, which aims to involve the Ministries of Agriculture in the NAP process. Ms. Karen Tscherning, from the German Federal Mininistry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) said, “Germany has established a trust fund to support the NAP. Japan has just joined the Fund and Germany hopes others will do too.”

Challenge 4: Addressing the gaps in providing technical support, capacity building scientific data collection and financing

According to Fred Kossom, from the Adaptation Committee, the biggest gaps in adaptation work around the world are: technical support, capacity building support, scientific climate services, and the capacity to address medium and long term issues.
Ermira Fida, Climate Change Coordinator, UNEP, also stressed the importance of financing the NAP process: “The NAP is a political economy issue. Financial resources need to be dedicated to this process.”