The thousands of delegates preparing to descend on Durban for COP17 should read Robert F. Kennedy’s famous “Day of Affirmation” speech en route. They will discover a call to action as powerful today as it was almost half a century ago. They will also find sensible guidance on how to overcome the sense of drift that has gripped the climate negotiations for much of this past year. If they heed his call they may discover that African soils are not for burying the climate regime as some pessimists suggest, but rather for growing the seeds of its future success.
This piece originally appeared on the Bangkok Post website.
A third of Thailand is under water. Epic floods have taken people's lives, destroyed businesses and crops, and are now sweeping into Bangkok.
As the capital braces itself, some people are beginning to point fingers at various culprits: the unusually heavy rains possibly linked to climate change, ineffective communications within government, and poor infrastructure decisions.
This post is based on the foreword to World Resources: Decision Making in a Changing Climate, co-signed by Helen Clark (UNDP), Achim Steiner (UNEP), Robert B. Zoellick (World Bank Group), and Jonathan Lash (WRI).
Conditions are changing in our world. Some are feeling the impact now, from the heat wave and wildfires in Russia of the last two years, the devastating floods in Pakistan and Australia, tornadoes in the United States, mudslides in Brazil, drought in China. Others are worrying about the impacts to come: the tea growers in Kenya’s highlands who are seeing cases of malaria they didn’t see only five years ago; the cocoa farmers in Ghana who think about how changes in rainfall will affect their sensitive crops; the rice farmers in Vietnam who are increasingly concerned about rising water levels.
Decision Making in a Changing Climate
Based on input from more than 100 experts in 36 countries, this report offers specific, practical strategies and innovative case studies to inform how to integrate climate change risks into national policies and planning.
WRI’s new report, Making Adaptation Count, proposes a framework for monitoring and evaluating adaptation. What does this mean?
Countries around the world are bracing themselves for the impacts of climate change, and already learning to manage changing rainfall patterns, droughts, floods, and sea level rise. Adapting to these conditions will require countries to implement a range of new projects and innovations. The World Bank estimates that these kinds of efforts – including reinforcing critical infrastructure and dramatically improving agricultural productivity - could cost developing countries US$75-$100 billion annually. In many ways these countries are navigating uncharted territory, and they need to know if adaptation initiatives are creating benefits. That’s why finding ways to keep track of these efforts and their effectiveness is crucial.
Concepts and Options for Monitoring and Evaluation of Climate Change Adaptation
This report aims to provide adaptation and development practitioners with a practical framework for developing monitoring and evaluation systems that can track the success and failure of adaptation initiatives in the development context.
If one thinks of the ongoing climate negotiations as a paint-by-numbers picture, the Cancun Agreements outlined what to paint and the basic colors to use. In last week’s Panama talks, Parties continued painting with various hues that, once complete, will hopefully create a detailed and beautiful picture. The painting does not yet have a frame, however, as the Parties still have to decide on what kind of “agreed outcome” the negotiations are leading to – i.e., a legally binding agreement or a non-binding one. At the same time the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period ends in 2012, which adds complexity but also opportunity to the picture.
The American author Tom Peters once wrote “if a window of opportunity appears, don’t pull down the shade”. Next week’s UNFCCC session in Panama is the penultimate stop in what has been a long and at times difficult year in the climate negotiations. The road to COP 17 in Durban has featured contentious agenda items, complex issue areas, and moments to test the resolve of the most patient negotiator. Yet despite these trying times glimmers of progress are evident, and as the year draws to a close we are beginning to see outlines of a deal that is both ambitious and imaginable.
This post was written with James Anderson, Communications Coordinator at the World Resources Institute.
“This is unprecedented fire behavior. We’ve never seen conditions like this before. Not a single one of our firefighters has ever faced such extreme conditions.”
This statement from the director of the Texas Forest Service makes it clear that the recent wildfires that scorched Texas belong in a new category of disaster. Already, the state’s wildfires this season have consumed 3.6 million acres (an area the size of Connecticut), swallowed over 1,500 homes, and killed at least four people. According to NOAA, the current wildfire is costing more than $1 million per day and exceeds $5 billion in overall damages across the Southwest. These are costs that will be borne by government, business and residents, alike.