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Capacity building Mechanisms to hold the key for Developing Countries and LDCs

December 4, 2015

While the various delegations and negotiators spend much of their day in Le Bourget straggling from one sentence to another to forge a meaningful agreement in the fight against climate change; one that the substantive proportion of the common man may never read or actually comprehend (due to its complex language), I decided to take a break from running from one hall to another in the maze-like venue hosting COP 21 to talk about one particular aspect of this climate summit – Adaptation measures to combat the impact of climate change on Developing Countries and Least Developed Countries (LDCs).


Capacity Building through climate change officials networking event by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The twenty-first Conference of the Parties (COP21)

After years of floundering negotiations, this year’s climate talks in Paris is working towards getting governments to agree to an international deal that will reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and limit global warming to 1.5° – 2° Celsius above pre-industrial levels. At this point, it is important for everyone to recognize that even if the governments compromise and convince their way to a universal agreement based on their voluntary (non-binding) commitments, we will still not meet the aforementioned target. For those of you with a flair and patience for typically-UN-style jargon, details and science, you can read more about this “Ambition Gap” in the Synthesis report on the aggregate effect of the intended nationally determined contributions.

While the term “ambitious targets” was a cornerstone of most (if not all) the well-written scripts that were expertly delivered by the heads of States on Monday, it is imperative to observe that the success of these climate change goals lie in its implementation.

The North – South Carbon Divide

U.S. President Barack Obama offered a bold statement in his address on Monday when he mentioned that “the United States of America not only recognizes our role in creating this problem, we embrace our responsibility to do something about it”. The cause of climate change can be largely attributed to developed countries that have been polluting the environment since the industrial revolution while its adverse impacts are often experienced in extreme scales by developing and least developed countries. It is more imperative now to enable these countries to meet their voluntary commitments proposed and increase them periodically in a manner that does not hamper their economic growth and ability to meet the needs of their population. The mobilisation of finance from developed countries to developing countries has constantly been harped upon to enable these countries to move towards a low-carbon-effluent economy. However, five other key instruments must also be in place to effect this transition to a greener economy:

  1. High level government engagement with various stakeholders such as the private sector and civil society will be essential to establish a robust institutional framework that links international governments to sub-national government agencies and eventually cascading down to the local communities.


  1. Establishing a comprehensive inventory of the various sectors such as energy, infrastructure, agriculture, forestry, livestock, etc… that is accurate and up-to-date. This is not only useful for a national stock take process but also critical for providing reliable data for businesses and foreign investments.


  1. Building Expertise through technology and skills transfer from developed countries to developing countries cannot be understated in the climate change adaptation process.


  1. Establishing a robust Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) system that tracks countries’ individual and aggregate progress in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. You can’t manage what you can’t measure and a transparent MRV system is essential for the fair assessment of a country’s progress towards actualizing their respective commitments and establishing trust between countries.


  1. Adopting climate change mitigating actions are equally essential for Developing Countries and LDCs. While much of the focus of developing and least developed countries is centred on climate change adaptation, it is also important to adopt mitigation measures as part of the transition to a low-carbon economy. Any investment in mitigation measures will minimize the need for investment in adaptation measures in the future.

In Conclusion…

Ambitious targets are essential to limit global warming to 1.5° – 2° Celsius beyond which reversing the impacts of climate change may well be out of our reach. However, targets and strategies are only as good as how expertly and efficiently they are executed. It might be a more pragmatic and prudent if I may add to invest resources and time to help developing countries and LDCs to establish robust frameworks, capacity, know-how and review mechanisms to enable these countries to meet their commitments.

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