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Intervention of the United States: Contact Group Four of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long Term Cooperative Action under the Convention: Adaptation

Delegation of the United States
Fourteenth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
Poznan, Poland
December 5, 2008

The United States appreciated the informative discussions in Accra and Bonn and looks forward to continued exploration of common frameworks for characterizing our actions on adaptation. In our view, the purpose of a framework for adaptation would be to lay out the range of actions needed to promote country-driven adaptation strategies, with a view to leveraging the substantial capability that already exists in many institutions at all levels for promoting resilience in climate sensitive sectors, especially for the most vulnerable.

Adaptation is a shared challenge. We can enhance our efforts by working in partnership to adapt effectively to climate change, including through knowledge sharing and exchange of practical experience, so that we build on the good work that already exists.

That good work is an important resource for understanding what must be in place to enable or enhance action on adaptation. In our discussions here in Poznan, it would be valuable to explore what elements must be present to create an enabling environment for adaptation. And what roles governments, donors, international institutions, and the UNFCCC should play in facilitating creation of such enabling environments. What factors must be in place? What role should various actors play? What types of information, assistance, actions, and coordination are needed?

Governments (both developed and developing) have leading roles to play in creating enabling environments for adaptation. These roles or actions include:

  • Identifying major vulnerabilities to climate change in key sectors and resources
  • Integrating adaptation considerations (and mitigation as well) into national and subnational planning and programs, where climate may have impacts. These programs include national development programs, where they exist, as well as strategies and programs in relevant sectors.
  • Improving the environment for doing business, particularly for small and medium enterprises, by combating corruption and reducing bureaucratic barriers to private sector business activity.
  • Creating legal and regulatory conditions that facilitate adaptation (for example, building codes, land use planning, and strengthening policy coherence among sectors). This activity may require analytical studies to identify where legal and regulatory changes may be needed.
  • Reducing perverse incentives that encourage mal-adaptation.
  • Enhancing or developing the needed information and knowledge base (both biophysical and socioeconomic), including improving scientific research, data systems and data collection, to support adaptation and catalyze adaptation investments.
  • Educating stakeholders at all levels about adaptation options and the benefits of reducing vulnerability to climate-related risks.

All of the above roles require a long-term commitment by national governments to creating an enabling environment for adaptation. These roles will likely involve governments and stakeholders at more local levels, as well. Developed countries can assist and facilitate the above activities in developing countries, including via provision of scientific, technical, and technological assistance and financial support, but not without the active engagement and commitment on the part of developing countries. Technical assistance and capacity building are also an obvious role for UN technical agencies, multilateral development banks, the GEF and NGOs.

The UNFCCC can serve as a catalyst and facilitator for actions by governments, donors, and international institutions to address the challenges of creating enabling environments for adaptation.

We look forward to engaging discussions on these and other ideas for enhancing action on adaptation.

Thank you, Chair.


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