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WMO at UNFCCC /COP 17 (Durban, South Africa)

 
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The 17th session of the Conference of the Parties to the Climate Change Convention (COP 17) was held in conjunction with the 7th Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 7) in Durban, South Africa, from 28 November to 9 December 2011. The Conference also included the following sessions:

  • The thirty-fifth session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 35);
  • The Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 35) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change;
  • The resumed fourteenth session of the Ad hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA 14-4), and
  • The resumed sixteenth session of the Ad hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP 16-4).

The High-Level Segment of COP-17 and CMP 7 opened in the afternoon of 6 December and continued until 9 December 2011.

COP 17 had an emotional inauguration, remembering the passing away on 13 November 2011 of our colleague, Mr Mama Konaté (Mali), Chair of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and Permanent Representative of Mali with WMO. In honour of his memory, the president of COP 17 invited all delegates to observe a minute of silence and then invited a representative of the Government of Mali to address the plenary in tribute. Many Parties including WMO, paid tribute to Mr Konaté in their general statements and also in the SBSTA 35 opening plenary.

WMO, building on the successful experience during the previous COP and SBSTA sessions, organized a side event titled: “Global Framework on Climate Services (GFCS) - Climate Information for Sustainable Development”. The event focused on the implementation of the GFCS and included panellists from UNESCO, FAO, WHO, UNEP and ISDR. Furthermore, WMO delegation actively participated in a large number of other UN side events on various topics, mainly on adaptation and science based decision making.

At the opening plenary of the SBSTA 35, WMO Deputy Secretary-General, Mr J. Lengoasa made a statement on the progress in the planning for the GFCS and arrangements for the way forward to implement the framework. Delegates from NMHSs were actively following up negotiations on ‘Research and Systematic Observation’ at the SBSTA, which recognized the GFCS in the final document as an important initiative to underpin science-based adaptation planning and practices, to ensure that all countries are better equipped to meet the challenges of climate variability and change. The 35th session of the SBSTA also invited WMO to report at its thirty-seventh session on the outcome of the Extraordinary Session of the WMO Congress in October 2012 with respect to GFCS implementation. The SBSTA further invited WMO to provide information, when appropriate, on the progress in the implementation of the GFCS at future sessions to inform Parties about the work under the Convention.

The Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) agreed to continue the implementation of the work programme on loss and damage associated with climate change impacts in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change and to make recommendations to the Conference of the Parties for its consideration at its eighteenth session. WMO’s Disaster Risk Reduction Programme (DRR) in coordination with the World Climate Programme (WCP) actively contributes to this initiative.

As in the previous COP sessions, WMO exhibition booth provided information to visitors and delegates on the role of WMO and NMHSs in the adaptation activities. In addition to WMO programmes, informative materials from South African Weather Service (SAWS) other co-sponsored programmes such as the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) and the Global Observing System (GCOS) were distributed at the booth. WMO dedicated a webpage for its participation and preparations for COP 17. It provided background information and a Position Paper in four languages on the ‘Role of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services in Mainstreaming Climate Services for Adaptation and Sustainable Development’.

At COP 17, WMO Secretary General, Mr M. Jarraud chaired the UN-wide high level side event on UN System Support to Adaptation: Progress and Opportunities for Enhanced Action. The event was successful in showing that the UN System is aligning its strengths to support countries in planning, designing and implementing effective strategies and measures to address climate change, with adaptation as a key area of focus.

On another occasion, WMO Assistant Secretary-General, Ms E. Manaenkova who is currently serving as Chairman of the Working Group on Climate Change of the UN Systems High Level Committee on Programmes (HLCP), organized a UN-wide high level side event, attended by Mr Ban Ki Moon the United Nations Secretary-General and the Executive Heads of leading UN agencies, funds and programmes. In this event, WMO Secretary General gave a presentation on climate knowledge and the leading role of WMO in the context of the UN coordinated action to address climate change as well as highlighted the expected benefits of the implementation of the GFCS.
At COP 17, WMO held a number of press conferences, and released statistical information, reviews and statements, and other scientific and technical information, primarily:

These included the following:

(a) Provisional Statement on the Status of the Global Climate in 2011: Global temperatures in 2011 were the tenth highest on record and higher than any previous year with a La Niña event, which has a relative cooling influence. The 13 warmest years have all occurred in the 15 years since 1997. The extent of Arctic sea ice in 2011 was the second lowest on record, and its volume was the lowest;

(b) WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin for 2010: The concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a new high in 2010 since pre-industrial time and the rate of increase has accelerated. It focussed special attention on rising nitrous oxide concentrations;

(c) A press briefing on GFCS: when fully implemented, GFCS would provide widespread social, economic and environmental benefits through more effective climate and disaster risk management and increased capacities for adaptation to climate variability and change using the best available scientific information.

Last year, around 80 national delegations at COP 17 had representatives from NMHSs, out of which there were more than 30 Permanent Representatives of Members with WMO attending and closely involved in the work of the Conference.

At COP 17, the package of decisions known as the Durban Platform was reached by the 194 Parties to the Climate Change Convention. The Durban Platform builds on the Cancún Agreements adopted at COP 16 to operationalize it and represents a significant and forward way that defines how the international community will address climate change in the coming years.

COP 17 decided that the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) shall start its work as a matter of urgency in the first half of 2012 and shall report to future sessions of the Conference of the Parties on the progress of its work. This Ad Hoc Working Group shall complete its work as early as possible but no later than 2015. The Durban Platform will start negotiations with immediate effect on a decision to launch a protocol or legal instrument applicable to all parties under the UNFCCC. The UN Secretary-General welcomed the agreement to establish a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol that will increase the certainty for the carbon market and provides additional incentives for new investments in technology and the infrastructure necessary to fight climate change.

Last year, WMO kept Parties informed on the progress towards the implementation of the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS). The thirty-fifth session of SBSTA during the COP 17 recognized that the GFCS was an important initiative to underpin science-based adaptation and to support countries in meeting the challenges of climate variability and change. As a result, the SBSTA invited WMO to provide, at the thirty-seventh session of the SBSTA, information on the outcome of the Extraordinary Session of the WMO Congress in October 2012 with respect to the GFCS implementation. The SBSTA also invited WMO to provide information, when appropriate, on the progress in the implementation of the GFCS at future sessions in order to inform the work under the Convention.

Among other issues, COP 17 also agreed on a Technology Mechanism that will promote access by developing countries to clean, low-carbon technologies and an Adaptation Committee that will coordinate adaptation activities on a global scale. WMO welcomes the decision that ‘requests the Adaptation Committee to engage with, and draw on the expertise of, relevant institutions, organizations, frameworks, networks and centres outside of the Convention, including those at the intergovernmental, regional, national and, through them, sub-national levels, where appropriate’. Furthermore, as regards to Green Climate Fund, a number of countries signaled their intent to contribute to the Fund.

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