COP 18 at Doha – it’s now about adaptation

One thing became clear at the Doha climate negotiations. As governments struggle to reach any agreement on climate mitigation, the urgency and importance of agreement on adaptation is now coming to the fore.

As the UN Secretary General said at the opening of the High Level Segment, “The abnormal is becoming the new normal.” The economic impacts of extreme climate events are becoming an issue of national security for many countries.

Programme on Loss and Damages

One area of movement in the negotiations at COP 18 was within the UNFCCC Work Programme on Loss and Damages. Countries agreed to establish institutional arrangements “such as an international mechanism to address loss and damages” in developing countries that are vulnerable to climate change. Because climate change impacts are mostly about water (increasing number and severity of droughts, floods, and storms, along with rising sea levels), GWP called for water infrastructure to be a key focus area of the Loss and Damages programme.

The GWP delegation at COP 18 was represented by GWP Executive Secretary Dr Ania Grobicki, Andrew Takawira from GWP Southern Africa, Dr Pervaiz Amir from GWP South Asia, and Ermath Harrington from GWP Caribbean. Also in the delegation were AMCOW Executive Secretary Bai Mass Taal and the AMCOW Climate Change Focal Point Laila Oulkacha.

Press Briefing

During GWP´s press briefing, Mr Takawira expressed appreciation for the call by the UN General Assembly President to hold a UN special debate on Water Sustainability at the 67th Session of the United Nations in March 2013.

GWP also continues to advocate for water as a thematic area in the Nairobi Work Programme (NWP), following the technical workshop held in Mexico in July. The expert roundtable preparing for that workshop was hosted by GWP in March this year. Mr Bai Mass Taal noted during the press briefing that the work on water under the NWP was a step in the right direction, but more needed to be done to ensure that water becomes a thematic area in the NWP, a decision to be taken in June 2013 at SBSTA 38 (Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Assistance).

GWP at High Level Segment

Dr Grobicki addressed the High Level Segment on the final day of COP 18, urging negotiators to create a “water window” from the Green Climate Fund that will finance the actions taken by countries to manage their water resources better. “Water impacts are becoming an economic issue, and even a national security issue,” she said. “I ask you to take practical steps, to finance the water window, in order to safeguard our future.”

After Dr Grobicki’s speech, the Vice President of COP 18, Robert Van Lierop, requested GWP’s involvement in the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) at their June 2013 meeting in order to take water higher up the agenda. As COP 19 gears up to focus much more on adaptation, now at last water impacts through extreme climate events will start to get the attention they deserve.

More information about GWP’s participation is available here.