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From Knowledge to Action: Accelerating Climate Adaptation Highlights from APAN Forum - Day 3 - 19 October 2018, Manila, Philippines

Manila, Philippines, 19 October 2018 – The final day of the 6th Asia Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Forum opened with a series of upbeat parallel sessions to share learnings and strengthen capacity for resilience. There is a united drive to ensure that participants take home the insights and knowledge gained from the forum, to accelerate climate change adaptation actions.

Invigorating parallel discussions were complimented by opportunities to network, where participants continued the discussions and established new partnerships and collaborations for enhancing adaptation projects and plans. Subsequent sessions shared strategies and success stories on how to implement better climate change adaptation actions and measures within organizations and countries.

The idea of climate risk transfer and risk insurance is relatively new... We have to integrate risk insurance and transfer in the resilience framework. It is a race against time..”

Bjoern Surborg, Support CCCII, GIZ (Parallel Session on Supporting Vulnerable Communities Through Risk Financing)

Micro-Insurance should be affordable and pro-poor. Multi-stakeholder collaboration is the key for the macro, meso, and micro risk insurance. There is a need for more support from the government to bring the other players in the industry put the structure in place.”

Jonathan Batangan, PJ Lhuillier Group of Companies, Philippines (Parallel Session on Supporting Vulnerable Communities Through Risk Financing)

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Stream updates

Resilience of human and social systems

Resilience of human and social systems: Focusing in on innovative approaches and instruments, sessions considered climate risk financing and insurance. Panelists called for improvements to the accessibility and distribution of risk insurance to vulnerable sectors. A key takeaway was that collaboration between the private sector and the government, particularly through policies and legislation, is vital to the implementation and mainstreaming of risk insurance and transfer. Participants were encouraged to facilitate the collaboration of scientific organizations, NGOs, local governments, communities and faith based groups, to co-design approaches to better disaster risk integrate reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA) – using the best available science and climate information.

Development partners are ‘force multipliers’ of climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction and management initiatives.”

Jose Bernado, International Council for Local Environment Initiatives (ICLEI) (Parallel Session: Integrating Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation in Development Planning)

Resilience of natural ecosystems

Resilience of natural ecosystems: Discussions centered on how ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) and green infrastructure can build resilience within natural ecosystems and ecosystem services. EbA implementation experiences across Asia were shared, and challenges aired. Ecosystem conservation and restoration are substantially undervalued - although they form the core of EbA. Generating sustainable livelihoods are considered vital to successful EbA initiatives. The challenge of adaptation financing was also discussed. Successful proposal development relies on substantial access to solid baseline data. Ongoing research and validation are critical because ecosystems are complex and the local impacts of climate change are hard to predict. The requirement to unlock domestic financing was underscored, as well as the need to mainstream EbA within adaptation planning and policy.

Attracting Investments for Nature-Based Solutions: Nana Kuenkel - International Climate Initiative, Vijaya Singh - UNDP Nepal
It is a challenge to get community engagement if your EbA program is pure conservation; it has to be connected to livelihoods to encourage community participation.”

Donna Gordove, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Philippines

Green infrastructure is often more effective than grey infrastructure, and allows sustainable land use despite a rising sea level... We can leapfrog the decades of research by using technology.”

Anthony Mills, C4 EcoSolutions

Resilience of industry and the built environment

Resilience of industry and the built environment: Case studies from the Philippines, Vietnam, China and Hong Kong identified how infrastructure is exposed to physical and transitional risks. In essence, infrastructure standards must be strengthened to withstand climate change and enhance resilience. Planning for infrastructure projects should consider climate risks as well as historic data, taking into account climate projections using simulations as tools to build resilience in infrastructure design. National standards and frameworks often exist, but these should be downscaled and made accessible for developers at the local and community level. As adaptation finance gathers momentum, there is an increasing requirement to monitor and evaluate resources dispersed, and select options which deliver value for money. Panelists highlighted the importance of collecting, disseminating and promoting valuable climate information, to enable the private sector to become more involved in adaptation.

Uncertainties are inevitable and should not be the excuse for inaction. We can work with uncertainties by characterizing and managing them, pragmatically and transparently.”

David Salter, Asian Development Bank

We must scale up the quality and usability of climate information, and make it fit for purpose.”

Paul Watkiss, Independent Consultant and Associate, Stockholm Environment Institute

Resilience of island communities

Resilence of island communities: Sessions underscored how adaptation is a daily necessity for small island nations. Policies and plans must be comprehensive, involving relevant institutions, agencies, civil societies, traditional leaders, communities, NGOs and the private sector. Common challenges include; moving from policy to implementation, lack of human resources, inadequate finance, low technical capacity and weak monitoring and evaluation mechanisms. Panelists in the session ‘climate proofing infrastructure investments’ showed how risks are inherent within infrastructure, and are exacerbated by climate change. Enabling development continuity and resilience is predicated on the ability of infrastructure to adapt to climate-related disasters.

Session highlights

Plenary: Oceans - Lifeline for Island Resilience

The afternoon plenary session highlighted the many ways that science, private sector, regional, youth perspectives are collaborating to build climate resilience, particularly for island nations. The session highlighted how important oceans are across the regions; they are a vital source of food and livelihoods, and also represent home and identity for islanders. Country representatives showcased how they are maintaining a lifeline for island resilience. Actions in mitigation and adaptation include staging a campaign to mitigate coral bleaching called “Protecting the Rainforest of the Sea”, continuous monitoring of sea level rise, and promoting sustainable deep sea mining. The integral role of marine protected areas in safeguarding island communities from the adverse impact of climate change was underscored.

The session focused on the tremendous contribution of youth in promoting climate adaptation actions in the knowledge that they are the generation that will inherit the Earth. Miel Sequeira-Holm, Palaua, advocated for the Heirs to Our Oceans initiative, while Selina Leem, youth representative from Marshall Islands, delivered a powerful spoken word piece on the story of her island's trauma and survival.

Ocean resilience is our business... The pacific is vast, water moves... the only way we can work to make it a resilient Pacific is in a combined effort with all countries and organisations. The vision of our 'blue planet' inspires us to conserve and work together. "

Dr. Gillian Cambers, Programme Manager, Secretariat of the Pacific Community

My island's drowning... White tipped waves crash in my backyard, over my ancestors' graves... By 2050 we are no more, my island has 32 years left... 1.5 degrees is all we've got."

Selina Leem, Youth Representative, Marshall Islands

Every other breath we take is gifted to us by the oceans. The ocean keeps us alive. It's our lifeline for resilience. We are educating ourselves and others so we can find solutions to the problems we are inheriting."

Miel Sequeira-Holm, Palauan Heir, Heirs to Our Oceans, Palau

Lessons learned, recommendations and solutions fron across APAN Forum 2018

Building resilience in the industry and the built environment requires a systems-based approach. Sectors are interrelated; and therefore actions on one sector will impact others - positively or negatively. It is imperative to acknowledge uncertainty and consider projected climate scenarios in designing infrastructure. Developers, designers and planners alike need to consider exposure to climate hazards and physical risks over varying timescales and scenarios. Analysis of global level trends, local market trends and regulations, and business level situations can help to assess transitional risks. Standards and guidelines, from national to local, also need to be reviewed - to adapt to the new normal.

Built stronger, and with resilience, power projects can now recover from strong typhoons in days instead of weeks.”

Viliami Ongosia, Tonga Power Limited (Parallel Session: Climate Proofing Infrastructure Investments)

Island states have made strong headway on incorporating climate change into the consciousness of policymakers, but implementing these policies still faces challenges in breaking the ‘old ways of doing things’. National and local decisionmakers must be consistently encouraged to embrace and implement comprehensive, actionable and realistic adaptation policies.

The power lies with our people. They should be empowered so they can be the drivers who push for the continuation.”

Branessa Tsiode, Ministry of Finance, Nauru

Improving the climate resiliency of infrastructure requires governments to make it a priority in their development plans. Resilient infrastructure development must ensure safety and cost effectiveness. An ongoing dialogue on infrastructure development between all relevant sectors is vital. Infrastructure must be considered a system that encompasses an asset, knowledge, and institutional capacity. Essential infrastructures are interdependent, and must be considered holistically.

Promoting disaster preparedness and adaptation actions exponentially lessens the impact and reduces hazards to communities. Panelists in a related session on risk transfer and risk sharing shared lessons from the insurance industry. As always, prevention is better than cure. It is also necessary to identify triggers and risks, and assess historical data, to provide appropriate impact-based results and forecasts. Participants suggested the scaling up of micro-insurance in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, to generate a coherent protection mechanism for vulnerable sectors.

There is strong need for the better integration of DRR and CCA, whilst systems and institutions for both DRR and CAA are actively engaged in building resilient future societies. This can be encouraged through sharing learning, strengthening regional partnerships, mobilizing resources, and translating information into action. Building strong collaboration between academia and local government is also important in strengthening community resilience.

The information gap for risk assessment and climate-resilient investment and decision-making was considered. For a robust decision-making process, we need to move from picking a prediction (‘predict and act’), to a process of listing available strategies, eliminating options that have unacceptable outcomes, seeing which strategies perform better in large range of scenarios, and then identifying strategies that perform best under a range of possible uncertain futures (the least-regret option).

We need to be able to make flexible adaptation options and not lock our decisions on certain pathways. We must consider adaptation options that look at the opportunities, instead of the past.”

Nathan Rive, Asian Development Bank

For EbA, the focus should be transformative adaptation rather than just reacting to the impacts; conservation and protection first before restoration. An important insight on financing and attracting investment toward EbA is to unlock all possible financial sources and blend/combine them, including what the community can invest financially. It is also necessary to integrate EbA in existing programs or traditional initiatives, to add value to the existing initiative, such as lake rehabilitation, tree planting etc. Shifting away from a project-based approach to embed sustainable solutions ensures the initiative will be maintained after the project cycle ends.

For every climate change adaptation intervention, we must consider; how do we sustain this? How do we institutionalize this? We need to shift away from project-based approach.”

Edith Ofwona, International Development Research Centre (IDRC)

In conclusion

Sessions culminated in reflections on how far we’ve come and the way forward. Youth involvement in this year’s forum provided a dynamic perspective on the state of climate adaptation in the region – and the vast amount of work which still needs to be done. We look ahead to the 7th APAN Forum in 2020, with fresh insights, expanded knowledge, and a renewed vigor for building resilience.

An integrated approach is crucial... A truely integrated approach to climate change adaptation brings together finance, science, narratives, partnerships..."

Mozaharul Alam, Regional Coordinator - Climate Change Programme, Asia and the Pacific Office, UN Environment

Nature-based solutions are not a silver bullet. They need to work in conjunction with other types of solutions. Knowledge is key. We cannot solve problems on our own, we need interactive wisdom.”

Xianfu Lu, Senior Climate Change Specialist, ADB

We must urgently address non-economic loss and damage, such as forced displacement, so that 'no-one is left behind' as we push for integrated adaptation solutions. ”

Saleemul Huq, Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD)

Achieving climate resilience is context-based and community-specific. Governments must empower their people to address risks and vulnerabilities. Adaptation means seeking innovative solutions.”

Rachel Herrera, Commissioner, Climate Change Commission Philippines

'Deep dive' session highlights

'Deep dive' session on Appraisal and Prioritization of Adaptation Options, led by the joint UNDP-UN Environment National Adaptation Plan Global Support Programme (NAP-GSP)

Regional Training on Appraisal and Prioritization of Adaptation Options: 15-16 October 2018: The joint UNDP- UN Environment National Adaptation Plan Global Support Program (NAP-GSP) undertook a ‘deep dive’ as part of APAN 2018 pre-forum events. The event empowered more than 30 experts from Asia and Africa with increased knowledge, skills and tools to assess climate change vulnerabilities and to appraise and prioritize climate change adaptation options for national adaptation planning. Delegates considered how to mobilize finance for adaptation, engage stakeholders and address gender considerations, while strengthening South-South information exchange and collaboration. Amongst the insights gained from this deep-dive session was the need for more in-depth and protracted trainings at regional and national level on vulnerability assessment, the appraisal and prioritization tools and mobilization of finance. The requirement to streamline National Adaptation Plans (NAPs), Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and Adaptation Communications is also paramount. A cross-cutting aspect is that adaptation planning and actions must be gender-responsive and harness the South-South collaboration and exchange.

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