Helen Clark Remarks at Joint Session of Executive Board

Jan 15, 2010

by Helen Clark, Administrator of the
United Nations Development Programme
at the Joint Session of the Executive Boards of UNDP/UNFPA, UNICEF, and WFP
on Climate Change
15 January 2010

Members of the Executive Board,
Colleagues and Friends,

It is a pleasure to present to you on behalf of four organizations : UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, and WFP.  We all welcome this opportunity to brief you on how, within our different but complementary mandates, we can help address the climate change challenge.

Climate change is clearly a huge development issue.  While it has global impact, it is hitting the poorest and most vulnerable hardest, whether they dwell in the drylands of Africa, by the great river deltas of Asia, in the world’s small atoll nations, or elsewhere. It has been projected that in countries with per capita annual income below US$ 6,000, the burden of diarrheal diseases from climate change alone is likely to increase by up to five per cent by 2020.

The least developed countries have done the least to cause climate change, and they can least afford to bear the cost of action to stave off and mitigate the impacts.

It is widely acknowledged that many nations need support to adapt to and build greater resilience to climate change, and to follow low carbon development pathways. Meeting these challenges is critical for achieving sustained development gains. Conversely, not meeting them will lessen the chance of meeting development goals.

By some estimates forty per cent of development investment from ODA and concessional lending is sensitive to climate risk. That means that if adaptation is not built into national development planning, scarce resources could well be wasted.

In 21st century development paradigms, inclusive and green growth must go hand in hand with farsighted adaptation and mitigation strategies.

The core of my own organization´s message at the Copenhagen Climate Conference was that the new climate agreement being negotiated must be a good deal for both development and the environment. It is not a matter of either/or – advancing and protecting both are critical.

While the Copenhagen Summit was not able to conclude a legally binding treaty, it did succeed in drawing together a very large number of heads of government who were willing to engage in discussion about the way forward, as the Climate Summit convened by the Secretary General in New York also did.

Much work lies ahead to negotiate a comprehensive climate agreement and to build the trust and confidence which will make that possible. The good offices of the UN system are available to support that process.

In the funds, programmes, and specialized agencies, we must focus on the practical work of supporting programme countries to devise responses to the climate challenge which are also supportive of their development.

With the support of our boards, our four organizations, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, and WFP, can ensure that climate change solutions feature prominently in the assistance we provide to developing countries, within our respective mandates.
Our agencies have much to offer.  Across the four of us, we have an unmatched global presence, wide-ranging development and emergency experience, and vast networks and knowledge. These are all assets we must bring to bear in supporting developing countries.

Our efforts will be enhanced by joint programming and initiatives, wherever possible, and by supporting each other’s mandates.

Many examples can be given of what our agencies do on the ground, from raising awareness, to building capacity for mitigation, adaptation, disaster risk reduction, and accessing climate finance, as well as to developing capacity to carry out climate change observation, monitoring, and research. 

Specific examples range from the WFP-led program which addresses mitigation and adaptation needs in the disaster-prone Karamoja and Teso regions in Uganda, to the China Climate Change Partnership Framework which brings together the work of nine UN organizations.

The background document prepared for this session provided other examples of country level services and assistance which are currently available or being planned by our organizations. So does the UNDG study on “Climate Change Actions undertaken by UN Country Teams”, which was conducted by the Task Team on Environmental Sustainability and Climate Change and issued in April 2009.

The rollout of some 90 UNDAFs over the next three years provides a good opportunity to place our climate action partnerships with governments within those strategic frameworks. This has already been done, for example, in Cambodia where eight organizations will co-ordinate their respective capacities on climate issues under the new UNDAF.

The UNDG has developed guidance to UN Country Teams on these issues, including on how to mainstream disaster risk reduction and environmental sustainability initiatives into the UNDAFs. Shortly a guidance note will be issued on the integration of climate change considerations into the UNDAFs. The three sets of guidance, complementing each other, will assist UN country teams in the approximately 45 countries where a new UNDAF is planned to be rolled out this year. 

While the guidance notes contribute to the internal capacity building of the UN system, the main objective of this work is, as always, to improve the quality of the UN’s assistance to programme countries’ own efforts where our support is requested.

There are other examples of joint products being developed to assist developing countries build knowledge and capacity on climate change, including internet-based products, such as the Training Service Platform on Climate Change – CC:Learn – which will be introduced separately later this afternoon, and the Adaptation Learning Mechanism (ALM) which provides knowledge about best practice on adaptation across sectors, communities, and borders.

UNDP and the World Bank are also developing jointly a Climate Knowledge Finance Platform, designed to provide information to developing countries about the finance available for climate change work, the procedures for applying for it, and the fiduciary requirements associated with it. 

The level of new funding made available for climate change adaptation and mitigation is of crucial importance for many programme countries. Effective adaptation and mitigation require significant new resources and technology transfer. Many developing countries cannot meet these costs on their own.

In the final hours of the Copenhagen Summit, developed countries undertook to provide additional financial resources approaching US$ 30 billion for the period 2010-2012, with balanced allocation between mitigation and adaptation.  Funding for adaptation under this proposal would be prioritized for the most vulnerable developing countries, including the least developed countries, the small island states, and Africa. 

It was proposed that a significant portion of the multilateral funding should flow through a Copenhagen Green Climate Fund which would be established under the financial mechanism of the Convention.  The details of that arrangement and the actual pledges are, however, as yet undetermined.

The UN already leverages large amounts of financing for technical assistance for adaptation and mitigation across the developing world, particularly in the least developed countries and the small island developing states. 

The UN development system also has a well-functioning system of multi-donor trust funds, which is already in use as a vehicle for climate finance, and could be more widely applied.

The UN REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) Programme, jointly managed by FAO, UNEP, and UNDP, is currently financed through such a fund.  This programme helps forested developing countries prepare national strategies, and put in place monitoring, reporting, and verification systems, in support of communities who depend directly on forests for their livelihoods.

Another example of using a multi donor trust fund can be found in the Malawi Climate Change Programme. Richard Dictus, Resident Co-ordinator/Resident Representative in Malawi, will present details about this programme today as a case study of joint Government –UN- donor collaboration. There, the Government and development partners are using the existing “One UN fund” as a main channel of support. This simplifies accounting work, and reporting across a number of sources of funding, government departments, and UN Agencies

In the UN development system we have been building capacity and expertise about climate issues over a number of years. We seek to deal with them not in a silo, but in a way which supports and reinforces national development strategies.

With sufficient resources, with broad and innovative partnerships within and beyond the UN development system, and with the support of our boards, the four organizations, on whose behalf I speak today, can leverage their complementary mandates in the service of programme countries.

Thank you.


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