The Hill Times just published the following Op-ed by C4D chair, Carol Thiessen calling upon the UN Climate Change Conference to address adaptation financing.

UN Climate Change Conference must address adaptation financing now

Another year, another food price crisis. Last summer’s severe drought across much of the U.S. and parts of Canada wiped out large swaths of crops. In parts of Europe, endless wet weather had the same impact.

And even though world grain production was still strong overall, and most western Canadian farmers were pleased with their harvests, a recent report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) indicates that global stocks on corn and soybeans are dangerously low. Observers predict food prices will soar again next spring.

Welcome to the new world where even good years aren’t good enough. It’s a world where normal weather patterns no longer exist, a world in which farmers have to constantly adapt to new realities.

It’s also a world in which almost 870 million people remain chronically undernourished, according to the FAO’s 2012 numbers. After some significant gains earlier, this level of hunger hasn’t really budged since 2007-08. The vast majority of the world’s hungry people live in sub-Saharan Africa or South Asia, and many of these are small-scale farmers.

They tend to farm some of the most marginal landscapes—on the sides of hills, on floodplains, and in semi-arid regions. They often lack secure land tenure and rights. And they are utterly dependent on the weather for their livelihoods. Changing climatic conditions threaten their already vulnerable livelihoods—not only because their own agricultural production is at risk, but also because most of these farmers must purchase some of their food, so high and uncertain food prices pose an additional risk.

Adaptation to climate change and its effects is an immediate and urgent priority.

That’s why the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Doha, Nov. 26-Dec. 7, is so important. Along with the need to take concerted action to slow climate change, it’s also imperative to support those already suffering its effects. We need to see urgent action on both mitigation and adaptation.

At Doha, Canada should signal its long-term support for financing, especially for adaptation efforts.

The Copenhagen Accord, agreed to in 2009, committed developed countries to provide $30-billion in fast start financing to developing countries between 2010-2012, with a balanced allocation between mitigation and adaptation. Canada stepped up to the plate with $1.2-billion in fast start financing, a respectable four per cent of the total.

The Canadian government has disbursed these funds over the last three years, with the last announcements expected to be made at or just before Doha. Much of this financing has gone through multilateral channels as concessional financing for clean energy and other mitigation activities, including the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation and the Inter-American Development Bank.

Little of Canada’s funding thus far has gone toward meeting adaptation needs, despite the Copenhagen Accord’s call for a balanced allocation.

Canada, together with other developed countries, made a further commitment under the Copenhagen Accord to mobilize up to $100-billion a year in financing by 2020. This long term financing commitment is much less clear than the fast start financing commitment which was expected to be financed from government coffers.

The funding for the 2020 goal is expected to come from a variety of sources, public and private, and is also dependent on developing countries taking meaningful and transparent mitigation actions of their own. So far there is no agreement on how to reach that amount. Nor has Canada made any financing commitments beyond 2012.

Governments are clearly hoping the private sector will carry the heaviest load from now on.

But it’s also clear that the needs of those living on the frontlines of climate change, especially small-scale farmers, will not diminish any time soon. They have done little to cause the climate crisis, but they suffer its worst impacts. It is highly unlikely that the private sector will step in to fund meaningful adaptation by vulnerable smallholder farmers. The profit potential is too low. Rather, it will predominantly require predictable, multi-year commitments of aid financing, in addition to Canada’s current aid commitments.

The Canadian government has said it wants to see a more inclusive agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol. For developing countries, struggling to feed their populations, a concrete commitment by Canada and other developed countries to long-term financing would help set the stage for such an agreement.

 

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