COP26 - What lessons can we draw for Climate Policy Monitoring and Assessment?

On Thursday 9 December 2021, the 24th virtual exchange session of the Climate Policy Monitoring and Evaluation Community of Practice (CoPM&E) took place.

Under the title COP26 - What lessons can we draw for Climate Policy Monitoring and Evaluation?, the session aimed to learn about the relevant outcomes of CoP26 in terms of climate policy monitoring and evaluation (agreements, recommendations, and trends regarding the implementation of the Enhanced Transparency Framework and the Global Stocktake) and on this basis to reflect on the future work of the CoP. Julio Cordano, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chile and participant on the UNFCCC Adaptation Committee, shared the main results of CoP26. Following his presentation, Mario Jimenez, consultant on monitoring and evaluation of climate change adaptation actions in the Ministry of Environment of Uruguay, gave his perspective from a governmental viewpoint. Based on what was heard, the session was complemented with a group reflection on the relevant issues for 2022.

"We need all parties to improve their climate transparency so that together we can have a clear vision of what we need to do to protect our planet for future generations".

Alok Sharma, CoP26 President-designate

Background: UNFCCC's general framework for adaptation M&E

Initially, the convention made little mention of adaptation issues, with negotiations and agreements very much focused on mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions. Over time, the importance of adaptation has increased in a complementary way to that of emissions. The initial response was driven by the Least Developed Countries Expert Group (LDCEG) and through National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) and NAP Guidelines validated for all countries. Already with the Paris Agreement, the parity between mitigation and adaptation is accepted and it is understood that finance should focus on both. By recognising the need to finance adaptation, there is an obligation to find ways to measure the effectiveness of actions against the money allocated.

Under the Paris Agreement, it is recognised that adaptation spans dimensions from local through national to global. It specifies that parties must develop their NAP and M&E of adaptation policies (NAP Processes) and establishes Adaptation Communications as a new flexible instrument for reporting progress. It also creates, with a very general scope, the need for a global adaptation goal and the 2023 Global Stocktake milestone. One of the main challenges is to maintain coherence between local adaptation M&E systems and respond to very specific circumstances, and reporting at national, and later global, levels. For its part, the work of the Adaptation Committee has been important.

Publications have been prepared on the above, ranging from specifics on data and the challenges of scale to the approaches for reviewing progress towards the global adaptation goal:

On COP26: Outcomes and what lies ahead in 2022

The most political and difficult issue to address was the global adaptation goal. As mentioned above, as the assessment of adaptation moves towards a global scale, the local becomes less relevant. While the global goal and the global stocktake aim to increase ambition, if the link between the adaptation goal and the local level is not maintained, the instrument may lose its catalytic effect in scaling up and achieving the expected ambition.

In Glasgow, the Glasgow-Sharm el Sheikh Programme was adopted, with a view towards COP28. Four workshops will be held over two years to inform the meetings of the subsidiary bodies and aim to reach a decision at COP28 (which also corresponds to the year of the Global Stocktake). Other advances from COP26 include the Enhanced Transparency Framework reporting tables and common timeframes for better synchronisation of adaptation communications contained in the NDCs. In addition, the strong presence of texts from indigenous peoples, youth, human rights and gender perspectives is noted.

Looking ahead to 2022, the Adaptation Committee will generate a technical paper on Adaptation M&E that will be important to understand and contribute to bridging the gap between the local and the global. Additional guidance for Adaptation Communications will also be prepared. In addition, IPCC Group II will launch its report on impact, adaptation, and vulnerability in February.

General reflections

On the other hand, Colombia is currently in the process of defining its agricultural sector indicators, both those that measure progress in the process and those that measure impact. It is recognised that the latter present the challenge of long-term measurement that exceeds the timeframe of project implementation. The exercise of defining indicators, at local, regional and national levels, uses the tools of the Integrated System for Vulnerability, Risk and Adaptation Assessment, which provides the orientations and guidelines for the assessment framework and allows for integration with other systems.

In the evaluation process of both the NDC and the 2050 Strategy, work is being carried out in specific monitoring and evaluation roundtables to have a clear definition so that the projects can have the guidelines for measuring short, medium and long-term adaptation from the outset. This joint construction of indicators with sectors and territories is based on the initial indicators defined in 2015 and 2016. In the next two years, the system is expected to be established and strengthened in an integrated climate change monitoring system that integrates all the different tools and platforms.

To move forward harmoniously with the three global goals (mitigation, adaptation and finance) of the Paris Agreement, the three local-national-global levels need to talk in an iterative manner. While there is no definitive answer to moving towards a global approach system, the global adaptation goal should be useful in understanding differentiated needs and facilitating the distribution of resources so that those least responsible for the causes, but most affected, have support to address them.

It can also serve as a reference tool that would be useful for countries in the process of defining their own horizons and objectives towards which to aim. In order to move towards a political agreement on how to measure the global effectiveness of adaptation, an imperfect and flexible standard that adapts to national and local realities will be needed. While it will not be perfect, it will be a "fuzzy" figure that will allow the first steps to be taken and open the discussion for its improvement in practice.

Material of Interest

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