Meeting: Catalyzing Innovative Solutions and Transformational Adaptation to Climate Change
Date/Location: November 9, 2017, UNDP Pavilion – Bonn Zone, COP 23
Speakers: Mr. Saleem Huq, International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD); Representative of Colombia; Dr. Stacy-Ann Robinson, Brown University
Written By: Marli Kasdan
With COP coming to a close at the end of the last week a noticeable theme throughout the negotiations and side events was on transformation – the notion that a fundamental change in the way we tackle climate change is needed if we are going to meet the Paris Agreement target of keeping global average temperature rise below 1.5-2 degrees Celsius. With current emission levels as they stand now, the world is not on track to meet this ambitious goal. However, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a fundamental aspect to combat global warming, adaptation to the increased risks posed by climate change induced threats, such as severe droughts, floods, cyclones, etc., is of equal importance. To address this issue, the UNDP pavilion held an event on the need for transformational and innovative solutions for climate change adaptation.
The event began with remarks from Saleem Huq from ICCAD, who focused his remarks on how the Green Climate Fund (GCF) could be used as a catalyst for transformational change, but the way they solicit projects with short term funding and a short term outlook prevents the GCF from helping to drive any true transformation. Mr. Huq emphasized that investment in a time bound project cannot be transformational because transformation involves the generational change of societies, and it means investing in the next generation who can deliver on transformation. In line with this, Mr. Huq emphasized the need for a paradigm shift in the GCF to allow room for experimentation and longer term investment in projects for climate change adaptation.
The meeting continued with the Representative from Colombia, highlighting similar issues with the GCF surrounding whether or not it helps to drive transformational change. GCF projects are based on 5-year funding cycles, and it is unlikely that transformational change can be produced in such a short window. The point was also made that there is no common definition surrounding transformation, making projects that could produce transformation difficult to implement when actors do not even agree on a shared vision of transformation.
The meeting concluded with Dr. Robinson, who presented some of her most recent research on climate change resilience and transformation. Her research found that the concept of transformation is donor driven, meaning that the donor agencies, development banks, and multilateral institutions that fund climate and development projects are driving the agenda surrounding transformational change for climate change adaptation. This is problematic because donors typically fund projects on 5-year funding cycles. Dr. Robinson was critical in her analysis of the likelihood for transformational change to take effect in a 5-year time span. This demonstrates that transformational change to meet the adaptation needs of developing countries to deal with the effects of climate change need to take the long view by having longer funding cycles and more inclusion of project recipients in the planning and agenda driving phase.