Addressing climate change through the lens of ecosystem based risk reduction

During the second week of COP21, I attended a panel discussion event named “ecosystem based disaster-risk reduction: tools, processes and good practices” in IUCN Pavilion.

The keynote speaker was Erik Solheim from OECD. He gave two examples, Bangladesh and Indonesia, to illustrate that after catastrophic events, people learn to be more prepared and become more adapted to extreme weather. Climate change is a huge amplifier of tendency. People have always been adapting to climate change. The new element is that things happen much faster. A strong civil society could make climate change adaptation possible.

Four panelists were invite give presentations and share different perspectives on the topic. Jacqueline McGlade, a chief scientist from UNEP, pointed out that Eba is already pervasive in UNEP’s projects now. However, we should be conscious that they might not be operating the way they used to know. She summarized several ways they conduct on the ground projects: pilot demonstrations and capacity building through online courses and graduate curriculum. The challenge, however, is how to update the local community with knowledge to react. From her perspective, self-reliance is fundamental to risk reduction. Last but not least, she noted that it is clear that women are long-term reliable mechanism. We need to fix micro finance and micro insurance for them.

Keith Anderson from FOEN in Switzerland shared the history of Eba in Switzerland. Eba started in 1951 with the first attempt to create hazard maps as a result of avalanches. By 2014, most of the Swiss cantons got their own hazard maps. In the meantime, planning has transformed from defense against hazards to integrated risk management. Switzerland is particularly vulnerable as temperature has increased since the 1860s. He highlighted multiple aspects of their system: structural safety, serviceability and durability. Their experience and concept can be useful to specific conditions.

Anne Hammil, director of resilience from IISD introduced software called Cristal Park to the audience. This tool was developed to help those working on the ground understand livelihood and support community level risk management. Lastly, Meeta Pradham fomr The Mountain Institute in Nepal talked about their experience and challenge dealing with Nepal 2015 earthquake. The catastrophic earthquake had been expected for many years. However, not until it actual happened did they realize how little prepared they are. Some major issues embedded in the society made the earthquake even worse: 1.Ineqaulity; the earthquake affects poor in the rural area most. 2. Social dimensions; it exacerbated preexisting inequity in gender and class. 3. Mountain vs. plain; the community in mountain area is doubly affected.


Meeta’s presentation on vulnerability in disasters in Nepal  

This event presented a balanced view on Eba with abundance of examples from both developing and developed countries. However, as one audience member noted, it is hard to change people’s perception on disaster. We are unlikely to be fully alert about disaster until it actual takes place. Jacqueline gave a potential solution to this problem – community leadership. The focal point is the community leaders who speak in power. We need to invest time and efforts on them. “Sometimes, even just giving them a cheap phone is helpful. Local change is the precursor to the wide change. “

Highlights from Japan Pavilion: Technology & JMC

The Japan Pavilion features the theme of transformation through technology. Japan’s INDC towards post-2050 GHG emission reductions is at the level of a reduction of 26.0% by 2030 compared to 2013, and 25.4% below 2005 level. One clear solution to achieve their INDC is low carbon technology.


 Japan Pavilion at COP21

Japan only has one official side event in the observer section. And they used this opportunity on December 7, 2015 to present their very proud little baby – Joint Crediting Mechanism. Japan did not participate in the second commitment period of Kyoto Protocol, which started in 2013, and thus not allowed to trade emission credits internationally. This new approach proposed by Japan provides opportunities for both Japan and developing countries to reduce their emissions. Essentially, Japan facilitates the technology transfer with each host country and shares the ownership of emission reduction units. As of September 2015, Japan has started the JCM with 15 partner countries (Mongolia, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kenya, Maldives, Viet Nam, Lao PDR, Indonesia, Costa Rica, Palau, Cambodia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Chile and Myanmar).

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Joint Crediting Mechanism

 In the side event, Japanese ambassador stressed the “leading” role that JMC plays in international carbon trading arena. He cited a study that showed 56% of emission reduction could be realized with full energy efficiency. It implies that, for Japan, the core strategy for emission reduction is through enhancing energy efficiency.


A major publication from Japan that is distributed in several halls

Some of the low carbon technologies mentioned in this publication are:

  • Digital manufacturing: the use of an integrated, computer-based system comprised of simulation, 3D visualization, analytics and various collaboration tools to revolutionize the production process and significantly reducing environmental impact.
  • Lithium ion battery separator: a microporous membrane that provides insulation between the anode and cathode for safety while allowing ions to pass through. This can be used in smartphones, laptop, and even electric vehicles. Thinner separators improves energy efficiency.



CDM can be improved with the experience from various standards

The main criticism about CDM is that there’s no safeguards and performance standards to help ensure that climate finance does not cause environmental and social harms and the lack of needed fundamental reforms in items such as technology eligibility assessment and sustainable development indicators. In order to tackle these issues there are valuable lessons that CDM can learn from the work carried out by the NGO sector. Here I am presenting three successful examples with a range of focuses on sustainable development.

Gold Standard 3.0 – a holistic approach to measure impact

The Gold Standard has been a pioneer of new methodologies and cutting edge thinker in carbon market. The latest version of Gold Standard takes one step further to holistically verify project impacts. Gold Standard 3.0 addresses the nexus of climate, energy, and water security. It sets the foundation for results-based finance for a broad set of outcomes that contribute to both climate and development post-2015 agenda. The integrated structure is intended to certify emission reduction, water benefits, and improved health through a unique standard and a single certification process. Both positive and negative impacts are evaluated case by case.


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The Gold Standard will be hosting an official side event with Fairtrade International to present FairCarbon Projects on Dec 3, 2015 from 15:00 – 16:30 in Room 3.

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