The International Institute for Environment and Development’s role at the UN climate negotiations

28 November 2011

The UN climate conference has officially opened and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) is here in Durban, out in force. We’re not in prominent negotiating positions, but we play an important role behind the scenes helping support least developed country negotiators and southern partners engage with the process.

The world's poorest countries are recognized in Article 4.9 of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as being among the among some of the most vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change. But their ability to effectively negotiate their case in the UNFCCC process is severely hamstrung by a number of factors set out in my blog, including having a relatively small number of negotiators.

We supported the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group by convening a workshop before the COP17 to help climate change negotiators prepare and develop their capacity prior to the negotiations just as we have done for past UN climate change negotiations. The Department for International Development has also seen the importance of this approach which is why it launched an advocacy fund to provide legal advice and support to these countries to prepare for and engage in key talks.

In addition to following the negotiations closely, we also bring many of our southern non-governmental organisation partners working on climate change adaptation to the negotiations. Many of the 15 vulnerable countries (twelve in Africa and three in South Asia) we are supporting through the Capacity strengthening for Least Developed Countries for adaptation to Climate Change programme are here.

One of the main issues on which a successful outcome is expected in Durban is the establishment of a high level Adaptation Committee and an agreement on the modalities and contents of the National Adaptation Plans that all developing countries will now carry out.

Development and Climate Day

IIED’s Development and Climate Day is a two-day flagship side event which has been running for nearly ten years. This year’s theme is on developing successful examples of climate change adaptation, providing concrete evidence and experiences of good practical examples of climate adaptation carried out both at the national and local level. The final, high level panel, on 4 December will pull these examples together and link them to the ongoing climate negotiations.  

Working with other partners, we also bring a number of southern journalists to the negotiations through the Climate Change Media Partnerhip (CCMP). We provide the journalists with briefings, set up interviews and help support them with filing stories. “Without the CCMP, many countries would have zero media representation at the UN negotiations,” says James Fahn of Internews’ Earth Journalism Network.

It’s this kind of behind-the scenes work that will hopefully have an impact on the ability of many southern countries to adapt to the devastating impact of climate change.

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