UN system explores fresh approaches to climate change adaptation
One of the most important tests of a successful agreement is its achievability. Through the Chief Executive Board, the highest level coordination mechanism in the UN system, over 50 UN organizations have advanced a common agenda in Cancun to show how adaptation could work.
Leading the charge, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has remarked, “As our cities and coasts grow more vulnerable, these hazards can lead to disasters that are far worse than those we have seen to date. We have a moral, social and economic obligation to build resilience”.
Heeding the call of the Hyogo Framework for Action - adopted by Governments in 2005 and endorsed by the UN general assembly - United Nations funds, programmes, and specialized agencies have taken action. In the last year alone, agencies reported many important activities undertaken with government and civil society partners in support of national plans and priorities.
Assessments of national capacities in disaster risk reduction have already been carried out in a number of vulnerable countries. To enable informed decision-making processes in risk reduction and climate change adaptation, officials have been trained in development of databases on disaster losses.
Investments in effective early warning systems have served as the foundation for investment priorities in early warning, disaster risk reduction and financing, including disaster risk insurance. UN Agencies have been strengthening disaster preparedness measures in more than 50 countries and have carried out inter-agency exercises to strengthen governmental capacities in pre-disaster recovery planning. National capacities for health emergency management have been strengthened as well.
Together with partners, UN agencies have integrated disaster risk reduction into school curricula and safety programmes. New risk assessment methodologies were designed to support national efforts to integrate ecosystem factors in public investment decisions. Local authorities have worked with UN to rehabilitate land through terracing and reforestation to turn dry lands into productive assets. Some of these communities have seen the food security of households increased by 50 per cent.
National progress is being captured through the “HFA Monitor”, an online tool launched in 2008. Overall, greater investment in disaster risk reduction is evident – though it is far from sufficient and still heavily reliant on humanitarian budgets. Disaster risk remains an obstacle to sustainable development. Addressing disaster losses requires the mainstreaming of disaster risk reduction and adaptation into development investments.
Preliminary results from a mid-term review recognize the impact of the Hyogo Framework for Action in raising awareness and in supporting the establishment of international, regional and national policies and institutions.
The UN family is scaling up coordinated implementation of regional and national actions plans that deliver results at country and local levels. “We will continue to promote innovative policies and practices and accelerate efforts to mainstream disaster risk reduction in UN development assistance and humanitarian interventions at all levels. Coherence in our approach is reinforced through our common efforts to implement the Hyogo Framework for Action” says Margareta Wahlström, Special Representative to the UN Secretary General for Disaster Reduction.
The roles, mandates and areas of work of many United Nations entities are available online (www.preventionweb.net).
The UNFCCC Secretariat has organized a UN event on Adaptation on 8 December 2010.