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GCCA Partners Take Stock of Climate Change Actions in Developing Countries

Voices and Views submitted by the coordination team on Tuesday, 27 November 2012.

The European Union’s Global Climate Change Alliance, or GCCA, recently held it’s firstGlobal Learning Event to identify achievements and lessons learned so far, and to consolidate thinking towards the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Doha.

gcca_cover.jpgWith Arctic ice levels at their lowest since records began, the effects of climate change are being felt worldwide. Be it in the melting of glaciers in Nepal, increasing coastal inundation in Senegal or shifting rainfall patterns in the Pacific, climate change is happening. “And this brings a greater urgency to everything we do,” said Kristian Schmidt of DG Development and Cooperation, EuropeAid. “I cannot think of an area of our work which will not be affected by climate change”.

The European Commission launched the GCCA in 2007 with the primary objective of strengthening dialogue and cooperation with developing countries most vulnerable to climate change. The alliance provides technical and financial cooperation to facilitate climate related projects and programmes in developing countries. By 2013, the alliance will be funding over 45 national, regional and global climate programmesin more than 35 countries and across 4 regions. 

In September, GCCA partners and implementers gathered in Brussels for the Alliance’s first Global Learning Event, to share experiences from implementation and promote networking across the GCCA. Lesson leaning and knowledge sharing formed a key component of this.

“When we talk about adaptation to the effects of climate change we talk about a lot of preparatory work that needs to be done,” said Jos Delbeke, Director General, DG Climate Action “There is a tremendous need of capacity building. Good preparation, good data and good follow up is going to be essential and we really hope that the GCCA is going to fulfill a primary role for that to a major part of the world.”

Until recently, the stark reality of climate change has been questioned, and that, combined with the EU's financial problems, made funding for climate change adaptation ‘an uphill struggle’ according to Jos Delbeke. But the European Commission is now in the process of relating 20% of the entire community budget to climate change - directly and indirectly for domestic and international purposes. “This is a quadrupling and this is a significant commitment being taken by the Commission. Of course, this is now in negotiation with the Parliament and Council but I see a strong commitment from the Commission to hold this out forcefully,” said Mr Delbeke, adding that this should provide leverage for increasing the funds needed to spend on climate change adaptation in developing countries.

Of the over 150 participants at the Global Learning Event there was strong representation from least developed countries (LDCs) and small island states (SIDS), which are often the countries that are suffering most from the current effects of climate change. 

“In the North Pacific we have a range of geographic islands but they are all concerned about temperature increases,” said Pasha Carruthers of the GCCA’s Pacific Small Islands Programme. “This is because of the impacts on coral reefs and the marine life which they are almost entirely reliant on. Also, shifting rainfall patterns are a real concern.” One of the GCCA’s initiatives is in the island nation of Kiribati, which identified climate change in health issues as a major gap. “Food hygiene and safety will become a real challenge in higher temperatures,” said Ms Carruthers, citing how, for example, ciguatera fish poisoning is already a significant public health problemin the Pacific, and tends to be worse in disturbed environments. The GCCA is assisting by strengthening the health system to identify and manage these cases, and is also working on environmental quality surveillance, water quality testing, food safety and vector borne disease monitoring and control. “They are very resource constrained, as a LDC,” continued Ms Carruthers, “In the longer term we are looking at doing sectoral budget support to the health sector to make that more sustainable”.

Promoting ownership and sustainability is also on the agenda of GCCA projects in Cambodia, where 80% of the population lives in rural areas, relying mainly on rain-fed agriculture. “Cambodia is a least developed country with limited human and financial resources and weak infrastructure, so in that sense we are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change in terms of temperature rise, extreme climate events such as flood, drought, windstorm and sea level intrusion,” said Tin Pon Lok, Deputy Director General, Ministry of the Environment of Cambodia. 

“Climate change is a cross cutting issues and we had to design an initiative in a very comprehensive way,” he continued. The GCCA supported the Cambodian government for the establishment of theCambodia Climate Change Alliance, which promotes capacity building, institutional strengthening, legal and policy development and awareness raising. It also provides funding support to line ministries and civil society organisations to implement urgent adaptation projects.

In a series of brief video interviews made at the event, GCCA partners and implementers told capacity4dev how climate change is affecting their country/ area of focus, and what needs to be done. 

Please visit this page in the GCCA Community Group to watch interviews with:

  • Jeremy Webb, Statistician, UN Economic Commission for Africa
  • Tin Ponlok, Ministry of the Environment, Cambodia
  • Prakash Mathema, Joint Secretary for the Climate Change and Management Division, Government of Nepal 
  • Ranjan Shrestha, EU Delegation to Nepal
  • Mamadi Gaourang, Focal Point FEM au Ministere de l’Environnement, Tchad
  • Pasha Carruthers, Climate Change Advisor, GCCA Pacific Small Island States 
  • Nesta Leguvaka, Solomon Islands Climate Adaptation Programme 
  • Cynthia Ehmes, Secretariat of the Pacific Community
  • Adikarim Toure, GCCA Mali
  • Madeleine Diouf Sarr, Senegalese Climate Change Committee
  • Benoit Sarr, Coordinateur Scientifique du GCCA, Niger

While the GCCA focuses on addressing adaptation to the effects of climate change, it is also aims at promoting a convergence of visions on the complex issue of international climate response policy. The18th UN Framework Convention on Climate Change is currently taking place in Doha (26 November - 7 December), with many GCCA partners playing important roles.

“There is major mismatch on which we have to build,” said Jos Delbeke at the Global Learning Event, “and that is those people present here are not necessarily well coordinated with the climate negotiators who we talk to when we are in our negotiation rounds.” Mr Delbeke suggests that part of the GCCA could involve a vehicle to gather negotiators and implementers around the same table. “Perhaps they would be a bit more aware of the real effects of our actions on the ground, so as to have a positive impact of the stands on their professional negotiators.” 

Kristian Schmidt considers the GCCA Global Learning Event to be essential. “An event like this … leads to a converging perception of what works and what doesn’t, and what is important. All of that will work towards the negotiations in Doha,” he said. “So the message from the EU to its partners in this alliance is: we work together on the substance, let’s not find ourselves at opposites on the negotiating table when we come to the Doha discussions.”

Full-length versions of the interviews with Kristian Schmidt, Jos Delbeke, and Simon Maxwell are also available in the capacity4dev.eu GCCA Community GroupDuring the GCCA, Timothy Clarke, European External Action Service and former Head of the EU Delegation to Tanzania, European Commission, was also interviewed on Chololo Village, an eco-village project in Tanzania. You can read the full article here

This collaborative piece was drafted with input from Valerie Cuvelier, Sophie De Coninck,Catherine Paul and Mark Futter, with support from the capacity4dev.eu Coordination Team.

DISCLAIMER: This information is provided in the interests of knowledge sharing and capacity development and should not be interpreted as the official view of the European Commission.

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28 November 2012

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