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Adaptation: Enabling the Full, Effective and Sustained Implementation of the Convention Through Long-Term Cooperative Action Now, Up to and Beyond 2012

Harlan Watson, Senior Climate Negotiator and Special Representative and Head of United States Delegation
Remarks to the Contact Group of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention on Agenda Item 3
Bonn, Germany
June 6, 2008

We were pleased to see that there were a number of interventions that pointed to the value of a common framework for characterizing our actions. The U.S. sees value in further exploring such a framework. As indicated in our presentation, we believe that the purpose of such a framework should be to lay out the range of actions needed to promote country-driven adaptation strategies, with a view to leveraging the enormous capability that already exists in many institutions at all levels for promoting resilience in climate sensitive sectors and issue areas.

Such a framework should be designed to catalyze greater attention to adaptation at all levels, to help Parties build a robust approach in their respective efforts. It should galvanize national and international support for adaptation priorities in a range of sectors, and promote climate resilient development in a manner that is practical, informed by the best science, environmentally sound, economically efficient, and promotes on-the-ground results.

It should also focus on "who" should be involved, by engaging the full range of actors at all levels. At national and sub-national levels, we need to encourage the engagement of planning and sectoral institutions with key responsibilities for the most vulnerable; at the international level, we see an essential role for relevant UN Technical Agencies, overseas development agencies and NGOs. At all levels, we need to leverage existing institutions and resources already engaged in enhancing climate resilience.

Included in this framework should be a portfolio of possible areas of action and international cooperation on adaptation. These areas of action would:

  • Facilitate development of national adaptation programs;

  • Outline objectives and possible actions in the face of different adaptation challenges;

  • Include processes for: identification and assessment of problems, establishment of priorities, evaluation and implementation of strategies, and program support;

  • Include list of voluntary priority actions that various actors might take to adapt to climate change.

With respect to resources, we take note of the interventions and look forward to discussions on ideas that will lead to practical and effective outcomes in Copenhagen and beyond. Ultimately, it will be necessary to prioritize action, just as we prioritize our actions in development assistance activities generally. In this regard, we note the many interventions that focused on the poorest and most vulnerable.

We also would note that the U.S. is increasing our own investments on adaptation both at home and abroad, and in so doing we are mindful of two basic considerations:

  • First, we are focused on ensuring that our resources go to the highest priority actions, and that we get performance for our investments; and

  • Second, we are focused on leveraging and integrating with existing institutions and strategies, which allows us to leverage both resources and existing expertise.

These criteria govern the areas we have chosen to prioritize and the avenues through which we channel our investments. For example, we recently undertook a review of our international adaptation activities. As a result, we have requested $64 million in new funding for international adaptation and forest activities in next year’s budget. This funding will be integrated into our broader development assistance activities related to climate sensitive sectors. By doing so, we leverage those funds against hundreds of millions in ODA the U.S. government already is making in climate sensitive sectors.

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