AOSIS submission on issues relating to climate related risks and extreme events

2007-05-07 AOSIS Download PDF

Topic: Climate

At SBSTA 25, Parties adopted conclusions relating to the ‘five-year programme of work
on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change’ (FCCC/SBSTA/2006/L.26).
In paragraph 34 of these conclusions, under the heading ‘climate related risks and
extreme events’, SBSTA invited Parties and relevant organizations to submit to the
secretariat, by 23 February 2007, information on their relevant programmes, activities
and views on the following issues:
(a) Experience with assessment and management of current and future climate related risks and impacts, including those related to extreme events and in specific
(b) Ability, gaps, needs, opportunities, barriers and constraints to predicting climate
variability, impacts and extreme events across regions and hazards;
(c) Contribution of traditional knowledge to understanding and managing climaterelated risks;
(d) Implications for sustainable development in relation to paragraph 34 (a) to (c)
(e) Promoting understanding of impacts of, and vulnerability to, climate change.
SBSTA requested the secretariat to compile these submissions into a miscellaneous
document to be made available to the SBSTA by its twenty-sixth session. SBSTA
further requested the secretariat to organize a workshop on the issues, information and
submissions referred to in paragraph 34 before SBSTA’s twenty-seventh session, and
prepare a report on the workshop to be made available to the SBSTA by its twentyseventh session.
General remarks
The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) welcomes this opportunity to present views
on the above issues.
AOSIS would like to express its thanks the secretariat for organising the two-part Expert
meeting on adaptation for small island developing States (SIDS), held from 5-7
February 2007 in Kingston, Jamaica, for Caribbean and Atlantic Ocean SIDS and from
26-28 February in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, for Pacific and India Ocean SIDS.
Discussions at these two sessions are reflected in the secretariat’s report of the
meeting (FCCC/SBI/2007/11, 2 April 2007) and have informed this submission. The
recommendations of these workshops are incorporated herein by reference.
AOSIS also welcomes Working Group II’s contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (Impacts, adaptation and
vulnerability) and looks forward to discussions of this report at SB-26. This report
underscores the extreme vulnerability of small island States to the negative impacts of
climate change, including sea level rise and climate-related extreme events, and
highlights a range of present and future climate change impacts.
AOSIS believes that the Nairobi Work Programme must continue to be informed by the
latest scientific findings, including the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report. To this end,
AOSIS urges the research community to do its utmost to address the gaps in
contemporary research identified in Chapter 16 (Small Islands) of this report with
respect to SIDS. AOSIS calls for an IPCC Special Report on SIDS, to address both
adaptation and mitigation issues – a key recommendation of the Expert meeting on
adaptation for small island developing States.
Finally, AOSIS looks forward to full implementation of all elements of COP decisions
5/CP.7 and 1/CP.10 that address adaptation to the adverse effects of climate change.
(a) Experience with assessment and management of current and future climaterelated risks and impacts, including those related to extreme events and in
specific sectors
Ample evidence now demonstrates the particular vulnerability of SIDS to the adverse
impacts of climate change. Key sectors that have already been affected by climate
change and will be severely impacted in the future include:
 Coastal zones and coral reefs;
 Agriculture, fisheries and food security;
 Marine resources;
 Water resources;
 Key infrastructure and settlements,

 Economic, financial security;
 Socio-cultural security. Economic, financial security;
 Socio-cultural security.
The process of preparing first national communications resulted in national level
vulnerability and adaptation assessments. This process was vital to increasing
awareness of climate change impacts, and driving the assessment and management
process for many small island States. Subsequent national communication processes
are expected to provide similar benefits.
However, many AOSIS member States will require significant assistance in acquiring
the human, technical and financial resources necessary to conduct in-depth
vulnerability and adaptation assessments in the context of second national
communications. Even though some capacity was created through the first national
communication process, the gap in timing between first and second national
communications, and the lack of funding to implement adaptation projects on the
ground during this period, has led to a loss of momentum in the process and in many
cases a drain of expertise from AOSIS regions.
AOSIS strongly believes that the effective assessment and management of future
climate impacts will be greatly assisted by:
• increasing access to national, regional and international technical expertise,
• strengthening regional centres of excellence so that ongoing training on
assessment and management techniques can be offered, and
• creating greater opportunities for inter-regional and intra-regional cooperation,
including among regional universities and other regional organizations, to enable
personnel exchanges and the sharing of information among regions.
A number of additional risk and impact assessments, outside the national
communication process, have been carried out through various programmes that have
been funded bilaterally or multilaterally. While these studies have been useful, AOSIS
members have experienced limitations with integrated assessment models, which tend
to assess impacts on a sectoral basis, but do not take into account certain complex
ecosystems and relevant economic sectors. As a result, there are significant
information gaps that lead to an incomplete portrayal of climate change impacts in
many countries. This in turn creates challenges for identifying and disseminating risk
management options for adaptation. There is an urgent need for impact models that
are suitable for small island States.
With regard to adaptation planning and implementation, AOSIS is of the view that a
participatory bottom-up process similar to the one used to formulate National
Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs) for LDCs should be designed for non-LDC
SIDS, to allow for important input from stakeholders and local communities. This will
lead to the implementation of adaptation actions at the local level best-tailored to local
needs and concerns. Community-based approaches will assist small island States in
assessing current impacts with more precision and developing management methods
that are practical and better targeted to potential future impacts. The incorporation of
adaptation planning and implementation into national strategies or sustainable
development plans is an important way to enhance the bottom-up process.
In connection with the assessment and management of extreme events, in many SIDS,
and across some SIDS regions, it is extremely difficult to locate or access historical
information on the physical, environmental, financial, social and economic effects of
extreme weather events. Improving existing mechanisms, and establishing new
mechanisms to support the gathering, collection, storage and sharing of data on the
impacts of these events, at both the country and regional levels, would greatly facilitate
risk management planning in anticipation of future climate- and climate change-related

Financial risks to SIDS from the adverse impacts of climate change will increase as
climate change continues. AOSIS members have identified an urgent need for an
assessment of the economic impact of climate change on SIDS, as well as an
assessment of the cost of adaptation measures. AOSIS members have also
highlighted the need to identify appropriate mechanisms for the management of climate
change-related financial risks and impacts on exposed sectors, including insurancerelated mechanisms.
Two related recommendations from the SIDS Expert meeting are for: (1) establishment
of a working group or forum within the Convention process to exchange and collect
information on risk transfer mechanisms, including insurance (best practices and
lessons learned); on international legal frameworks containing elements of loss sharing
and risk managing; and on the feasibility of implementation of the original AOSIS
insurance proposal; and (2) engagement of the insurance industry and finance experts
on innovative approaches to address insurance and relief funding in the context of risks
relating to climate change.
(b) Ability, gaps, needs, opportunities, barriers and constraints to predicting
climate variability, impacts and extreme events across regions and hazards
AOSIS member States have identified a significant number of needs, gaps, barriers
and constraints to predicting climate variability, impacts and extreme events across
regions and hazards.
Among these are the need to improve technologies around climate modelling and the
mapping of vulnerable areas and communities at improved resolutions. Technological
improvements in the resiliency of physical infrastructure are also needed. In many
jurisdictions there is an urgent need to increase the number of individuals trained to
undertake predictions. Improved early warning and monitoring systems for extreme
weather events are essential. There is also a need for comprehensive adaptation
The ability to predict and plan for climate variability, and for the impacts of climaterelated extreme events, will be greatly assisted by the creation of easily-accessible
databases on historical climate variability, extreme events, and the impacts of extreme
events within countries and regions. Enhanced human and technical capacity is
needed to ensure effective management of these databases. Additional resources may
be needed to assist in data recovery (where old data is maintained in incompatible
formats), to ensure the robustness and compatibility of historical data, and to gather
new data. These efforts will assist in planning for the future.
Improved public awareness and preparedness are also essential ingredients for
ensuring effective adaptation planning and implementation. Secure long-term funding
for training government personnel and enhancing co-ordination amongst government
departments is also essential in this regard.
Predicting climate variability, impacts and extreme events across regions encompasses
a broad spectrum of issues and stakeholders. AOSIS is of the view that addressing
these issues and reaching the relevant stakeholders will require a comprehensive longterm approach that employs both top-down and bottom-up techniques. This will require
additional financing and technical support.
(c) Contribution of traditional knowledge to understanding and managing climaterelated risks
AOSIS is of the view that traditional knowledge can fill gaps where scientific data
collection is sparse and global model resolution is too coarse. It can also provide valid
input into vulnerability and adaptation assessments, and additionally assist in
identification of resilient ecosystem components and biota based on generations of
It may be very useful to take stock of traditional adaptive knowledge and technologies
used in local and indigenous communities.
In this context, traditional knowledge may
require sensitive treatment. Where traditional knowledge is still intact and in use,
intellectual property issues may arise if traditional adaptive capacities are transferred
outside the local area or community. A methodology or set of guidelines for
incorporating this knowledge into national assessments and eventually into adaptation
on the ground would be extremely beneficial.
The rate of climate change is such that it is unlikely that traditional coping strategies
alone will be able to keep pace with the increasing impacts of climate change. The loss
of traditional knowledge, due to changing societal norms and structures, has already
constrained the present adaptive capacity of many community groups.
(d) Implications for sustainable development in relation to paragraph 34 (a) to (c)
Climate change has already had a significant negative impact on SIDS’ natural
resource base, and on the growth and development of major sectors of island
economies, including tourism, fisheries and agriculture. Climate-related sea level rise,
extreme weather events, coral bleaching and resulting loss of biodiversity can be
expected to cause increasing damage to already fragile island economies, reversing
years of development efforts, and threatening the achievement of the sustainable
development objectives addressed in the Mauritius Strategy.
In the Pacific islands region, cyclones accounted for 76 per cent of reported disasters
from 1950 to 2004, with an average damage cost of USD 75.7 million per cyclone. In
2004 the impact of Cyclone Heta resulted in damages estimated at three times Niue’s
GDP. There has also been an observed increase in the number of intense hurricanes
in the Caribbean region. In 2004, Hurricane Ivan struck several countries in the
Caribbean region. The hardest hit was Grenada where overall damages from this
single extreme event that were calculated at twice the country’s GDP.
Scientists have projected an increase in sea level rise in the South Pacific of between
25 to 58 centimeters by the middle of this century. Sea level rise together with coral
bleaching from increasing temperatures will lead to coastal erosion and land loss, the
salinisation and contraction of aquifers, more intense flooding events, and a decline in
artisanal fish populations which are a key source of protein. It is also likely that
maximum tropical cyclone and hurricane wind intensities could increase 5 to 10 percent
by 2050. This combination of climate-induced processes poses an enormous risk to the
sustainable development of SIDS.
Delays in implementing adaptive strategies will only increase the cost of adaptation in
SIDS. There is an urgent need to implement adaptation measures in small island
States. Targeted financial support from the international community is needed and
expected under the Convention, as the burden of climate-related impacts will far
exceed what SIDS governments can bear and should be expected to bear. It is unlikely
that the Adaptation Fund under the Kyoto Protocol will generate the level of funds
necessary to adequately address the cost of adaptation.
(e) Promoting understanding of impacts of, and vulnerability to, climate change
Comprehensive public awareness programmes at the local, national and regional levels
will help promote understanding of climate impacts and vulnerability to climate change.
AOSIS is of the view that an Adaptation Experts Group within the UNFCCC process,
perhaps with a mandate similar to the Expert Group on Technology Transfer, could
usefully assist in managing the adaptation process at the Convention level.
An IPCC Special Report on SIDS could greatly assist in promoting understanding of the
impacts of, and vulnerability to, climate change among the international community.

Finally, the establishment of a special Work Programme for SIDS within the UNFCCC
process, incorporating the Mauritius Strategy, to address current and future
implementation of the Convention and Protocol would further promote understanding of
the impacts of climate change in SIDS, and facilitate measures to address the particular
vulnerabilities of SIDS to these impacts.
AOSIS appreciates this opportunity to present its views.

Sub Topic: Loss & Damage


Meeting: SB26