By Reinhardt Jacobsen
BRUSSELS (IDN) – In an unprecedented move, representatives from the 79 member states of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group are meeting with top officials from the United Nations agencies as well as other influential international and regional groupings to accelerate work towards implementing the historic Paris Agreement on climate change.
High level participants in the gathering in Brussels on March 22-23 include: the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Cañete, who will deliver the keynote address; UN Environment Programme Director Achim Steiner; the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director General José Graziano Da Silva; and Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Petteri Taalas.
They will join regional partners and ACP ambassadors in Brussels to discuss concrete proposals for follow-up actions on the global agreement endorsed by world leaders in December 2015 at the UN Climate Change Conference COP21.
Representatives for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) as well as the host of the next Conference of the Parties COP22 meeting, Morocco, will also make presentations.
The Brussels deliberations aim to facilitate dialogue and generate an action plan, including elements on partnerships and finance mechanisms, to tackle climate issues pertinent to African, Caribbean and Pacific developing countries.
The compelling need to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts is firmly anchored in Goal 13 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the international community in September 2015.
Stressing the significance of the meeting, ACP Secretary-General Dr. Patrick Gomes said: “Climate change is a global challenge that cuts across all 79 members of the ACP Group – with almost half of the membership (37) being Small Island Developing States, and/or Least Developed Countries (39), which are particularly vulnerable.”
He added: “Translating the ambitions and decisions of COP21 at the global and multilateral level into concrete actions on the ground in our countries, is a major task that needs the commitment of all partners. We must not let the momentum slide on this vital opportunity to make a difference for our planet.”
Observers regard the upcoming gathering a significant follow-up on a joint initiative of the 79-nation ACP Group with the 28-member European Union leading up to the Paris climate change agreement. The ACP-EU joint declaration pushed for an ambitious, durable and dynamic agreement by COP21.
The statement welcomed the signing of the 11th European Development Fund Intra-ACP Strategy by the ACP Group and the European Commission, which allocates €475 million to support climate action, resilience building and the environment in ACP countries up to 2020.
The ACP Group’s Issues Paper and Ministerial Declaration on COP21 also reaffirmed the view that climate change threatens the very survival of ACP countries, and poses immediate and long-term risks to sustainable development.
Key concerns highlighted include adaptation to climate variability and adequate support for adaptation actions especially for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS); loss and damage associated with impacts of climate change; mitigation and limits on global warming; climate financing; technology development/transfer and capacity building; and reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.
The two-day meeting in Brussels will also feature presentations from the ACP Secretariat, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and other UN agencies, European Commission, the South Centre, FAO, WMO, the Ramphal Institute and the Institute de la Francophonie pour le Development Durable.
Interactive exchange on support for implementation will be led by the Belgian Government, African Development Bank, and the Green Climate Fund. Regional experts from Africa, Caribbean and Pacific, along with representations of the LDCs and AOSIS countries will also share insights and views on the Paris Agreement.
In run-up to COP21, the ACP Council of Ministers’ meeting in Brussels on November 24-25, 2015 stated in a declaration their firm conviction that the new agreement should be “a legally binding agreement under the Convention and in accordance with its principles, including the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities and the principle of equity”.
It should stress that enhancing mitigation ambition in order to close the mitigation gap by 2020 is critical towards contributing to reducing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to a level that “prevents dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”.
The ministers also called for additional support from the international community for the implementation of adaptation actions in all ACP countries, especially the Small Island Developing States, Least Developed Countries and African countries which are particularly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change, as well as slow onset impacts, many of which will have permanent and irreversible damage.
They also pleaded for acknowledging that the scientific evidence according to which drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are needed if the global goal to limit warming to well below 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels is to be achieved.
Consequently, the ACP Group urged developed countries to take the lead in further reducing their emissions such that the world can be on a pathway consistent with a temperature increase that is well below 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, by the end of the century.
The declaration also emphasized that the 2015 Paris Agreement must ensure that climate finance is scaled up, adequate, new and additional, predictable, equitable, sustainable, to support, inter alia, adaptation, loss and damage and mitigation, technology development and transfer and capacity building to ACP countries. [IDN-InDepthNews – 18 March 2016]
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