Hundreds of development experts, policymakers and scientists gathered in Bangkok on 22 October 2010 to look at specific ways of implementing climate change adaptation as a priority for governments and development agencies during the second day of the Asia-Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Forum 2010.
While the first day of the forum focused on general approaches and large-scale financing of climate change adaptation, the second day concentrated on the details of adaptation governance, mainstreaming adaptation into development planning, and the importance of effective knowledge management.
The practical uses of adaptation were introduced early in the day, with a panel that included Governor Joey Salceda of the Philippines' Albay Province – a local government with a reputation for innovative thinking on climate issues. Governor Salceda pointed out that although Typhoon Megi, which had just hit the Philippines, was the largest storm in the area for four years, good planning and mobilization of civil society and the media had helped reduce casualties to a minimum. "And 72 percent of the [donor] response was local," the governor said.
The morning's other speakers emphasized the central importance of working with governments – at both the local and national level – if climate change adaptation is to get off the ground.
Governments in the region "want less studies and more support," said Nicholas Rosellini, UNDP Regional Bureau Director for Asia and the Pacific, listing as examples of support building institutional capacity, on-the-ground action, and experience-based learning.
"If we don't work with government planners, we will be a cottage industry," said Darren Swanson of the International Institute of Sustainable Development (IISD), Canada. "Lots of talk and consulting, but no adapting."
Ancha Srinivasan of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) pointed out that many local governments in the region may not yet be able to understand or implement adaptation planning, and that it was important to take into account local priorities. He also focused on the issue of "maladaptation", noting that while development agencies' intentions may be good, "how are we sure that we are not increasing vulnerability through our interventions?" He gave as an example promotion of shrimp farming in South Asia, which had increased salinity and made freshwater scarce in coastal areas.
Charles Erhardt, Climate Change Coordinator for CARE International's Centre of Expertise on Poverty, Environment and Climate Change, stressed the need for participation, transparency and accountability in the planning process. He also urged caution when mainstreaming climate change adaptation to ensure that it becomes a shared responsibility across sectors, rather than "no one's responsibility".
The focus of the day on specific solutions and responses to climate change continued later in the morning with three breakout sessions.
A panel on adaptation policies, legislation and regulation included representatives from Indonesia's National Council on Climate Change, Nepal's Ministry of Environment, the Bangladesh Rehabilitation Assistance Committee, and the Institute of Global Environment Strategies in Japan. Another panel – "Climate Uncertainty – Is this an Impediment to Adaptation?" included participants from the Nepal Centre for Disaster Management, the Australian National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, the University of Colombo in Sri Lanka, the ADB, and the UNFCCC Secretariat. A third panel focused on capacity needs for mainstreaming, and included participants from ASEAN, the United Nations University, the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) of the UK, the government of the Philippines' Albay Province, and the World Resources Institute (WRI).
Continuing the themes of the first day, many of the panellists concentrated on communications challenges and the need for better knowledge-sharing on climate change adaptation.
Ali Tauqeer Sheikh of CDKN pointed out that adaptation involves a particularly wide range of issues, including ecosystems, energy, food, water, migration, health, and disaster response. The "triangle" between policymakers, scientists and communities is broken, he said, and needs to be fixed.
Mainstreaming adaptation is a "continuing, longer-term project" and a process of political and institutional change, said Peter Hazelwood of WRI. Mainstreaming involves a lot more than "just getting a paragraph on climate change adaptation into a national development strategy," he noted.
Raman Letchumanan, the head of ASEAN's Environment and Disaster Management Unit, reminded the audience of the need to not lose sight of ground-level programs amid the international debate on climate change. Communications need to be appropriate to the audience, he added, citing as an example that arguments about "mitigation" or "adaptation" might not be appropriate when trying to convince farmers to end crop burning.
The afternoon of the second day was dedicated to focus events on specific initiatives, programs and projects.
The first set of focus events included a session on community-based adaptation (presented by CARE International, FAO, and IIED-UK), another on business and climate change adaptation (presented by the CSR Asia Center), and a third on adaptation in major Asian cities (presented by the World Bank, the Rockefeller Foundation, ADB and JICA).
The second set of focus events included a roundtable on local governance (UNDP, UNEP and UNCDF), presentations on knowledge management (UNFCCC, CDKN, Adaptation Knowledge Platform, ICIMOD, ALM and APAN), and a session on "climate-proofing" coastal ecosystems (Mangroves for the Future and DEWGA – the Disaster and Environment Working Group Asia).
The third group of focus events looked at child-based adaptation (Plan International, Save the Children, UNICEF), the Asia-Pacific Adaptation Network (CAREC, ADB and the Mongolian Development Institute), and linkages between disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation (Asian Disaster Preparedness Center, DEWGA).
The day ended with a recapitulation of the main themes of the forum and some important questions to the audience by Dr. Louis Lebel of Thailand's Chiang Mai University. Besides defining climate change adaptation itself, the main themes identified were: how best to mainstream adaptation into development, how to improve knowledge-sharing among stakeholders, and how climate change adaptation should be financed and governed. Dr. Lebel noted that there might be times when "mainstreaming" would not be the best approach and that adaptation response needs to be a practice in and of itself. He also reiterated one of the key messages of the first day: that adaptation will need to be planned and implemented with the best knowledge available, but in the absence of scientific certainty.
As a farewell surprise to the participants, Swedish composer and singer Meja sent a recorded rendition version of her famous song "All about the money" just for the event. In her message in the video, she said that when it comes to environment, then it is "Not all about the money".
In total, there were 549 participants at the Asia-Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Forum 2010, with representatives from all regions of Asia and the Pacific. The consensus was that as well as being one of the largest adaptation events ever, it also represented a new stage in the conversation among governments, experts, donors, scientists and communities to help the Asia-Pacific region prepare for and manage the large-scale effects of climate change.
The Asia-Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Forum 2010 was organized by the Regional Climate Change Adaptation Knowledge Platform for Asia and the Asia Pacific Adaptation Network, with the support of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the Swedish Environmental Secretariat for Asia (SENSA), the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), the Asian Institute of Technology – UNEP Regional Resource Centre for Asia and the Pacific (AIT-UNEP RRC.AP), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Ministry of Environment of Japan (MoEJ), and the Institute of Global Environment Strategies (IGES).
The Adaptation Forum 2010 Secretariat
AIT-UNEP Regional Resource Center for Asia & the Pacific
Outreach Building, P.O. Box 4, Klong Luang
Pathumthani 12120, Thailand
Tel: +66 2 524 5386/5384