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States and regions around the world are collaborating on adapting to climate change

Date
17 February 2016
States and regions around the world are collaborating on adapting to climate change

LONDON: Despite the historic Paris Agreement shaping future climate policies, increasing extreme weather is already affecting communities today. In exclusive Climate TV interviews, two ministers from Mexico and Spain explain how The Climate Group’s States & Regions Alliance is bringing together sub-national governments from all over the world to share best practices on urgently needed climate change adaptation.

To drive back the growing impacts of extreme weather worsened by climate change such as heatwaves, flooding and drought, bold climate policy is fundamental to saving lives and money. In fact, a paper by Lord Nicholas Sternchair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, asserts that acting on climate today is the only sensible economic choice, since the cost of inaction greatly exceeds the cost of action.

As well as reducing emissions to mitigate climate change, anticipating the worst effects by urgently enforcing climate adaptation policy is crucial. However, to be effective such strategies must be implemented at all levels of administration – across local, regional, national and international governments.

SUB-NATIONAL ROLE

States, cities and regions in particular are well positioned to play an important role in driving climate adaptation, because sub-national governments often benefit from working at a level and scale of policy development and implementation that allows for greater urgency and experimentation. And the more information that can be shared between governments, the faster successful policy can be scaled up across countries.

The Climate Group’s States & Regions Alliance has been fundamental in bringing together sub-national governments from all over the world to share best practices and successes on climate change adaptation. “Adaptation and resilience is a vital element of any comprehensive climate change strategy,” comments Libby Ferguson, States & Regions Director at The Climate Group. “The Climate Group has been working for 10 years to promote innovative climate policy solutions by states and regions.”

While governments in both developing and developed countries are already directly affected by climate change, their ability to cope differs depending on populations, economic sectors and regulatory frameworks within regions.

Better informed decision-making enables innovative policies to develop, while addressing gaps every government can have about adaptation. Focused on driving forward such policy to benefit citizens and businesses alike, the States & Regions’ Policy Innovation program allows state and regional governments from economies of all sizes to communicate regularly through unique Peer Forums.

Such forums consist of online meetings and webinars, in order to improve governments’ policymaking capacity, foster bi-lateral and multilateral partnerships, and identify emerging opportunities, barriers and innovations.

A PRESSING ISSUE

One of the 35 members of The Climate Group’s States & Regions Alliance is the State of Jalisco in Mexico. In an interview for Climate TV, María Magdalena Ruiz Mejía, Secretary of Environment, explains the climate related difficulties Jalisco has faced and how its innovative polices are focused on adapting. “The areas that are most vulnerable to climate change are the highly productive agricultural and livestock parts of the state, as well as coastal areas with high biological diversity. In terms of climate adaptation we are focusing on these two sectors: agricultural and livestock production, and biodiversity.”

María Magdalena Ruiz Mejía adds: “There is a sense of urgency on the issue of risks and disasters. The environmental sector must become a priority and transversal to all policies, especially the productive ones.”

REGIONSADAPT

At the global COP21 climate talks in Paris, The Climate Group supported the launch of RegionsAdapt, an initiative created by the government of Rio de Janeiro in collaboration with the government of Catalonia – both members of the States & Regions Alliance. RegionsAdapt is a commitment by sub-national governments to put in place adaptation plans, report on adaptation actions and share learning on policy solutions.

Led by Network of Regional Governments for Sustainable Development (nrg4SD), the launch of the initiative during COP21 called attention to the importance of international support and collaboration for regional climate adaptation.

“As an endorsing partner of RegionsAdapt, The Climate Group will continue to work with governments through our Adaptation Peer Forum to share policy solutions on this important issue,” underlines Libby Ferguson. “Many of the most innovative and impactful global climate policies are being developed and tested at the state and regional level. The Climate Group supports governments to share the solutions that work and accelerate the pace of adoption.”

INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY

Investing in adaptation measures also brings other economic benefits, such as boosted spending and demand for goods and services, while also having a positive, long-term impact on employment.

Catalonia in Spain, another member of The Climate Group’s States & Regions Alliance, is quickly grasping such opportunities according to Santi Vila Vicente, former Minister of Territory and Sustainability, Catalonia, in a separate Climate TV interview. The region is particularly active on adapting its agriculture and livestock sectors while improving mobility and the efficiency of buildings.

“In short, [this is] a cross-cutting effort to reduce consumption and to adapt to a reality imposed on us that can be a win-win opportunity,” says Santi Vila Vicente, remarking on the effectiveness of climate adaptation actions taken by cities and sub-national governments.

“This is not an identity issue,” Mr Vila Vicente underlines, “but a conviction that governments that are closer to citizens, with competencies that most affect greenhouse gas emissions, are more capable of achieving specific goals. In this sense, it is the responsibility of states to ensure a legal and fiscal framework that provides regions with the appropriate funds to carry out adaptation actions.”

by Virginia Bagnoli

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