Outcome on capacity building at COP26

The GWP-ACE has laid out elaborate action programs at local, national and international levels

Image source: Hindustan Times

The Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) ended a few weeks ago. Its outcomes have received mixed reviews by observers and media. Some have touted it as a success, or partially successful and some others have dubbed it as a failure.

I think the level of success or failure depends on the specific agenda of the COP process. As a negotiator of the capacity building (CB) agenda under the process, I will regard the outcomes of the capacity building agenda as a success on several counts.

We may mention that under the broad framework of capacity building, there are a number of agenda items under the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, including the Doha Work Program (DWP) on Article 6 of the Convention. This relates to six elements: education, training, public awareness, public participation, public access to information and international cooperation. Later, the DWP was rechristened with the addition of action for climate empowerment (ACE).  So, this piece will elaborate a little on the 10-year GWP-ACE (Glasgow Work Program-action for climate empowerment).

The Glasgow Climate Pact (GCP) acknowledged the progress made on capacity building, particularly on enhancing the coherence and coordination of its activities in the implementation of the Convention and the Paris Agreement. Also it recognized the need to support developing countries in identifying and addressing both current and emerging capacity building gaps and needs, and to catalyze climate actions.

To this end, it invited multilateral and bilateral institutions and organizations to provide financial support for activities related to implementing the ACE.  Also the decision emphasized the important role of ‘indigenous peoples’ and ‘local communities’ culture and knowledge in effective action on climate change, and to engage with the second three-year work plan for implementing the functions of the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform for 2022–2024.

Further, the COP decisions have some concrete actions for implementation in next year and beyond:

  • The COP invited future COP Presidencies, with the support of the secretariat, to facilitate the organization of an annual youth-led climate forum to contribute to the implementation of the GCP-ACE.
  • To hold an in-session annual ACE dialogue at its first regular session of each year with the participation of Parties, representatives of relevant constituted bodies and relevant experts, practitioners and stakeholders that focuses on the four priority areas: (1) policy coherence; (2) coordinated action; (3) tools and support; and (4) monitoring, evaluation and reporting, and the progress of implementation of the Glasgow work program.
  • The focus of the first in-session annual dialogue, to be held at SBI 56 (June 2022), is on the engagement of children and youth in implementation of the priority areas as listed in the annex of the ACE program.
  • To undertake the development of an action plan at its fifty-sixth session (June 2022) focusing on immediate action through short-term, clear and time-bound activities, guided by the priorities set out in the GWP, to be considered by SBI 56 (June 2022).
  • To convene an in-session technical workshop to be held at SBI 56 (June 2022) with Parties on how priority areas of the six ACE elements, through a short-term action plan can be effectively implemented, which can inform the ACE dialogue process.
  • To undertake a midterm review of progress at its sixty-fourth session (June 2026) and a final review of progress at its seventy-fourth session (June 2031) of the GWP to evaluate its effectiveness, identify any emerging gaps and needs, and inform any consideration on improving the work program, as appropriate.

It may be mentioned that the GWP recognized some important guiding principles, such as a) A country-driven approach; b) Cost-effectiveness; c) Flexibility; d) gender and intergenerational approach; e) A phased approach that integrates activities under Article 6 of the Convention and Article 12 of the Paris Agreement into climate change programs and strategies; f) Promotion of partnerships, networks and synergies, in particular synergies between conventions; g) An interdisciplinary and h) multi-sectoral, multi-stakeholder and participatory approach; h) A holistic systematic approach; and i) The principles of sustainable development.

Actually, the GWP-ACE has laid out elaborate action programs at local, national and international levels, with mid- term review provisions. This is important to see how the work program performs over time. As mentioned before, the program focuses on education and training giving priorities to children, women and youth.

The 10-year GWP encourages the use of local and national expertise to deliver sustainable capacity. This is extremely important, as the past CB initiatives undertaken by bilateral and multilateral agencies did not bring in the desired results. The reason was that they were led by foreign consultants under donor-supported short-term project-based initiatives, which rarely left any sustainable capacity systems behind. So the developing country negotiators, including this writer, have strongly argued for recognition of the importance of local and national expertise. Finally, it was inserted in the agreed text, which is extremely important for ensuring national ownership of the CB program.

Further, there is also an understanding among the funding agencies that CB initiatives must be taken under a fairly long term programmatic approach, as CB is not a one-off discreet act, but more of a process, which requires time for resulting in any effective outcome and impact. Therefore, the challenge now is to build an effective network of south-south-north partnerships for mutual support and mutual learning.  Mizan R Khan is Deputy Director at ICCCAD.

To this end, the LDC Universities Consortium on Climate Change (LUCCC), which is now an official program of the LDCs under the UNFCCC process, can greatly contribute to capacitating the LDC governments and other stakeholders including the local communities.  This latter group actually must be leading the adaptation actions on the ground.  So capacity building programs now should be geared more to building capabilities of the local stakeholders.  To this end, the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) at Independent University, Bangladesh, which serves as secretariat of LUCCC, is actively involved in CB activities at local, national, regional, LDC-wide and international levels.

Originally this article was published on January 23, 2022 at Dhaka Tribune

Mizan R Khan is Deputy Director at ICCCAD.