We keep on hearing about climate change and how this important and trending issue poses a real global threat. Climate change impacts pose severe structural impediments to sustainable development, even more in developing and least developed countries. Least Developed Countries (LDCs) face many complications when needing to recover from climate stresses, as their economic growth is highly dependent on climate-sensitive sectors like agriculture. But, what are the next steps and way to act towards these important issues?
In 2001, during COP 7, countries recognized the importance of adapting to climate change, and the need to support the LDCs in carrying out National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPA). This was a very important step towards recognizing the importance of adapting to climate change. It was in COP 16, through the Cancun Adaptation Framework, that countries agreed to move on from NAPAs to National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) encouraging long term solutions that were effectively mainstreamed into national development and focus on concrete actions to reduce vulnerability to climate change. Furthermore, at COP21, the Paris Agreement emphasized the support for National Adaptation Plans, and served as a call to accelerate the support, to LDCs and developing countries, to develop their NAPs.
This week, in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, key actors, decision makers, country representatives and stakeholders are discussing and exchanging experiences on how to advance the National Adaptation Plans: what to do more and better while developing and implementing NAPs at the NAP Expo 2018. The NAP Expo is an outreach event organized by the Least Developed Countries Expert Group (LEG) under the UNFCCC, in collaboration with various bodies and organizations, to promote exchange of experiences and foster partnerships between a wide range of actors and stakeholders on how to advance National Adaptation Plans (NAPs). This is the 5th NAP Expo since 2013.
During the opening of the event, Mr. Khalid Fouda, Governor of South Sinai, Egypt, welcomed the165 participants from all over the globe encouraging a fruitful discussion that can result in concrete and applicable solutions and recommendations that could help local and national governments tackle one of the most important challenges of all time: climate change.
Today we had the opportunity to interview Dr. Manuel Araujo, Mayor of Quelimane, Mozambique and Vice-President of ICLEI Africa.
The involvement and importance of urban areas and local governments in the national adaptation planning
National government need to understand the potential of involving cities, human settlements and local governments in the national adaptation planning, according to Dr. Araujo. “We need to understand that local governments have the legitimacy that comes from proximity. We are the closest institution that can cope with emergencies and issues when there is a disaster.”
The case of Quelimane City has been recognized by the UNFCCC Secretariat and UN-Habitat as one of the best practices in the region. “In the case of my city, we’ve been in the forefront of the NAP process because we were one of the first cities in Mozambique to have a Local Adaptation Plan” says Dr. Araujo. “We have been sharing our experience with other municipalities within our province, and also nationwide. We managed to sign with the National Association of Mayors in Mozambique, so they can adopt our example as a good practice”.
Sharing experiences and best practices is one of the main objectives of the NAP Expo, but we should always take into consideration that one example doesn’t necessarily fits all. Youssef Nassef, Director of Adaptation at the UNFCCC Secretariat shed light on the importance of cities when responding to climate change events, “we need to consider that each city has different characteristics when acting on and implementing National Adaptation Plans”.
“Take action NOW! Don’t wait for other organizations to tell you what to do”
One of the main messages of Dr. Araujo to other Mayors facing similar issues is to act now and create new strategies to adapt to climate change. “Many times, people don’t do what they can do because they are waiting for money. The case of Quelimane City is unique because we started working with the resources that we had (human, technology and economic)”.