Remarks by Helen Clark on adaptation to climate change

08 Dec 2010

Remarks by Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator
Cancun, 8 December, 1.20 – 2.40pm

I am pleased to join this panel discussion on how the UN system is supporting member states in their efforts to adapt to climate change.  

Climate change is a major challenge to development and puts already hard won development gains at risk.

Yet with adequate support now, adaptation to climate change will help strengthen countries’ resilience.  That’s why it is so critical to place adaptation at the heart of the development agenda.

UNDP currently works with partners to provide support on adaptation in more than 140 countries.  We use our expertise and experience to assist countries to manage and address climate risks in a way which is pro-poor and advances human development and the achievement of the MDGs.

Assistance to Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States is a top priority for UNDP.  We have worked with 33 LDCs in the implementation of their National Adaptation Plans of Action, and with more than 20 SIDS to support them to access programme adaptation funding. 

This work builds on UNDP’s support to more than 100 countries in the development of their National Communications.

UNDP’s services include the following:

  • First, on policy and planning, we assist countries to integrate climate change considerations into national development priorities and poverty reduction plans. Based on analyses of climate impacts, development challenges, and the need for and availability of funding, the aim is to identify priority adaptation actions to guide and inform development investment decisions. 

For example, UNDP supported Mexico to develop a National Adaptation Policy which strengthens the way in which national public policies address climate change, and includes a vision for a more climate resilient development path for the future.

  • Second, UNDP helps countries to develop an enabling environment for more flexible, robust, and pro-active decision making on climate change.

For example, under the $92.1 million Africa Adaptation Programme funded by the Government of Japan, UNDP has supported the building of robust institutional frameworks to manage climate risks and opportunities in twenty African countries. The objective is to promote more pro-active and informed policy-making related to climate risks and opportunities, and to facilitate more effective implementation of those decisions.

One of the countries in this programme is Niger, where climate change threatens to increase existing vulnerabilities in areas including food security and access to water and energy.  UNDP is working with the Niger authorities to map the institutions which operate in such vulnerable sectors, and to establish a mechanism for co-ordination to strengthen national implementation of adaptation measures. 

  • Third, UNDP supports countries to use existing public resources to catalyze the emerging sources of climate finance.  That includes facilitating access to the range of current funds – from the multiple bilateral sources, to the UNFCCC Least Developed Countries Fund, the Strategic Climate Change Fund, the Adaptation Fund, and others.  UNDP has been able to leverage more than US$800 million for developing countries to finance adaptation activities. That funding consists of around US$300 million in grants and more than US$ 500 million in co-financing.

An example of this work is in Bangladesh, where UNDP has assisted the Government to leverage funds from the UNFCCC’s Least Developed Countries Fund to support coastal communities which are vulnerable to climate change. In working with these communities, we have been able to test innovative approaches to coastal reafforestation, with mangrove species in the frontline, and with nurseries also supporting the growing of fruit trees, production timber species, and vegetables. 

This work is currently being undertaken in four coastal districts.  It has enormous potential to be scaled up in Bangladesh, and could be an experience worth sharing with other nations facing similar challenges.

UNDP, UNEP, and the World Bank are also developing a joint programme to assist countries to meet the international fiduciary standards necessary for accreditation in order to ensure that they possess the institutional capacity to access the Adaptation Fund and other potential climate funding sources directly.  This is being done by developing a menu of services aimed at building the required fiduciary, institutional, and related capacities.

  • Fourth, UNDP supports the generation and sharing of knowledge, lessons learned, and results achieved on climate change adaptation, as well as the greatest possible co-ordination and coherence among partners.

A good example of this work is the Adaptation Learning Mechanism - a global initiative implemented by UNDP, GEF, UNFCCC Secretariat, the World Bank, UNEP, FAO, and UNECE. This initiative codifies lessons from ongoing adaptation initiatives, and offers access to knowledge about best practice and experiences. More than one hundred case studies of initiatives currently under implementation have been compiled, along with extensive climate-related data and documentation of emerging lessons on adaptation.

Looking forward, the entire UN development system - with its network of country offices and its tremendous knowledge on all areas related to climate change, including on its inseparable link to development - is acting to promote climate-resilient development, and to support countries to place adaptation, and indeed mitigation, strategies at the very center of their national development plans.

It is critical for us to continue to strengthen, co-ordinate, and align our efforts so that we can provide the support developing countries urgently need to adapt to the development challenges posed by climate change.