From Paris to Marrakech: The next stage of global climate change policymaking

(Originally published here)

The 21st Conference of Parties (COP21), which was successfully concluded in December 2015 with the adoption of the Paris Agreement, has set in train global actions by all countries to tackle climate change through both mitigation to reduce emission of greenhouse gases as well as adaptation to the adverse impacts of climate change.

The next milestone will be on April 22 in New York where the Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki Moon has invited heads of government to come together to formally sign the Paris Agreement. In order for Bangladesh to be able to join that meeting, we will need to have adopted the Paris Agreement domestically.

After that, COP22 to be held at the end of 2016 in Marrakech, Morocco, will be the next stop in the global policymaking process; it will need to develop momentum for implementation of the Paris Agreement.

In this article, I will focus on one of the most important topics that will need to be dealt with at COP22, which is of great importance for Bangladesh and in which Bangladesh can make a significant contribution if we prepare ourselves well.

The topic is loss and damage, more specifically how to deal with the failure to adequately mitigate or adapt, when we are faced with inevitable losses of human lives, ecosystems and damage to infrastructure like roads and embankments.

At COP21 in Paris, the developing countries fought for and succeeded in including the topic of loss and damage as a separate article (Article 8) in the Paris Agreement against the resistance of the developed countries who did not wish to treat it as a separate issue from adaptation. This Article also reinforced the mandate of the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) on Loss and Damage that had been agreed upon at COP19 in Warsaw, Poland in 2013.

The WIM has an executive committee consisting of 20 members (10 from developing countries and 10 from developed countries), and it has a work programme with nine action areas to be presented to COP22 in Marrakech later this year.

The nine action areas include the following:

Action Area 1: Vulnerable populations

Enhance the understanding of how loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change affect particularly vulnerable developing countries, segments of the population  that are already vulnerable owing to geography, socioeconomic status, livelihoods, gender, age, indigenous or minority status or disability, and the ecosystems that they depend on, and of how the implementation of approaches to address loss and damage can benefit them.

Action Area 2: Risk management

Enhance the understanding of, and promote, comprehensive risk management approaches (assessment, reduction, transfer, retention), including social protection instruments and transformational approaches, in building long-term resilience of countries, vulnerable populations and communities.

Action Area 3: Slow onset events

Enhance data on and knowledge of the  risks of  slow onset events and their impacts, and identify ways forward on approaches to address slow onset events associated with the adverse effects of climate change with specific focus on potential impacts, within countries and regions.

Action Area 4: Non-economic loss and damage

Enhance data on and knowledge of non-economic losses associated with the adverse effects of climate change and identify ways forward for reducing the risk of and addressing non-economic losses with specific focus on potential impacts within regions

Action Area 5: Capacity and coordination

Enhance the understanding of the capacity and coordination needs with regard to preparing for, responding to and building resilience against loss and damage associated with extreme and slow onset events, including through recovery and rehabilitation.

Action Area 6: Migration, displacement, mobility

Enhance the understanding of and expertise on how the impacts of climate change are affecting patterns of migration, displacement and human mobility; and the application of such understanding and expertise.

Action Area 7: Financial instruments

Encourage comprehensive risk management by the diffusion of information related to financial instruments and tools that address the risks of loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change to facilitate finance in loss and damage.

Action Area 8: Other organisations

Complement, draw upon the work of and involve, as appropriate, existing bodies and expert groups under the Convention, as well as relevant organisations and expert bodies outside the Convention at all levels.

Action Area 9: Five-Year rolling work plan

Develop a five-year rolling work plan for consideration at COP 22, building on the results of this two-year work plan to continue guiding the implementation of the functions of the Warsaw International Mechanism.

Bangladesh’s role

Bangladesh has a major opportunity to influence the decision to be made on loss and damage at COP22 in Marrakech in two ways.
Firstly, as Bangladesh is a member of the twenty-member Executive Committee of the WIM, we can influence their deliberations if we prepare ourselves well for each meeting of the Executive Committee.

Secondly, Bangladesh has an opportunity to move forward pro-actively to set up a national mechanism on loss and damage, using the reserve funds in the Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund (BCCTF) which could make us an example for other countries to follow. Thus Bangladesh has a major opportunity in the next ten months to make a major contribution to what is likely to be known as the “Loss and Damage COP” in November 2016.