A closer look

December 5, 2012

REC hosts Doha side event: 'A local focus on EU climate policy: adaptation in an enlarging Europe

The Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe organised a side event in the EU Pavilion during the Doha UN Climate Change Conference (COP18) on December 5, 2012. The event focused on adaptation in an enlarging Europe.

The goal of the event was to disseminate information about recently achieved outputs within international projects that can assist in: creating information and knowledge; regional and local approaches to adaptation; ecosystem-based approaches; financing adaptation strategies; collecting information and advancing discussion about existing gaps and capacity-building needs; and sharing information with other regions of the world.

During the event, REC experts and representatives from the European Investment Bank and the European Federation of Regional Energy and Environment Agencies (FEDARENE) outlined current efforts to meet capacity-building needs for adaptation in new EU member states and in accession countries.

Also analysed were information and knowledge barriers, as well as cultural, historical, legal, political, institutional, administrative, financial and technical obstacles. These concerns were framed within a regionally specific context.

A roundtable at the side event explored how best to address gaps and close them. The focal points of the discussion were the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

LOFTY TARGETS: The Aspire Tower rises high above Doha's Aspire Park. Photo:ramamanivanna under Creative Commons License

The efforts of research, financial, and think-tank communities to provide policy makers with adaptation-oriented decision-making instruments and tools were underlined. Narrowing the gap between science and policy was introduced as a means of financial assistance for adaptation efforts. Special attention was given to the effectiveness of cooperative action at regional, local and ecosystem levels, while the focus of the event was on those countries in Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe with the best prospects to disseminate these tools to other regions of the world.

Nancy Saich, a senior expert with the European Investment Bank, emphasised that the EIB has a 25 percent target for climate-resilient projects. She also said that it is vital to assess the vulnerability of projects related to urban development, transport, water, agriculture and resource management. The EIB is encouraging communication and empowerment on issues across sectors and for all stakeholders, Saich concluded.


Narrowing gaps

A roundtable at the side event explored how best to address gaps and close them via the participation of national UNFCCC focal points for the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia and the EIB. The panel discussed existing gaps, along with other major problems and needs related to capacity and financing.

One EIB representative emphasised the importance of using terminology that is specific to the stakeholder involved, as gaps and needs are expressed in different ways. The representative stressed that the increased frequency of extreme events has forced insurance companies to change their strategies. Panelists agreed that social, cultural and historical aspects of adaptation are vital considerations, and that the world's poor are suffering most from the harmful impacts of climate change.

One of the main gaps identified during the discussion is the current lack of proper cooperation between different bodies, institutions and local governments. A panellist from the Czech Republic opined that awareness-raising campaigns are needed to combat climate scepticism. A Romanian panellist stressed the importance of scientific knowledge and its proper communication to politicians. Another panellist from Slovakia brought up the subject of limited knowledge on economic assessments and the need to educate local governments. An EIB representative highlighted the need for sharing experiences and networking among institutions.

As for financing, there is a need to develop strategies that will ensure multiannual funding at national level. There are currently several channels supporting adaptation-related activities, but proposals need to be developed properly, including impact and vulnerability assessments and monitoring. To foster the increase of such knowledge, project developers will need to conduct trainings and effectively disseminate information.