Lessons from adaptation project design and implementation at the UNCCC COP22 in Marrakesh, Morocco

The 22nd Convention for the Parties (COP22) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) took place in Marrakech, Morocco, between November 7th and 18th.  This was the first COP to follow the entry into force of the Paris Agreement.  As such,  the meeting opened with a note of hope under the theme of action and implementation. Official negotiations yielded a timeframe for the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

In the meantime, hundreds of side events and exhibits brought together  climate experts from all over the world and sectors, including scientists, civil society, governments, and the private sector, to discuss in more detail the innovations required to help achieve the ambitious greenhouse gas mitigation targets that the world agreed to under the Paris Agreement. 

However, it was noted that mitigation efforts will have to be combined with extensive adaptation efforts to ensure that the most vulnerable communities can avoid severe negative impacts of climate change. This message rang close to the heart of the Moroccan hosts of COP22. During the meeting, the Moroccan Government launched the Adaptation of African Agriculture (AAA) Initiative, an extremely ambitious effort to help the highly vulnerable sector to innovate rapidly to cope with projected increases in extreme climatic events and other significant changes in climatic patterns. More information can be found here.

STAP also focused on the theme of implementation at COP22. Indeed, alongside colleagues from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the International Development Research Center (IDRC) in Canada, STAP hosted a side event on November 9th entitled “Lessons from adaptation project design and implementation in a development context”. The well-attended event brought together members of the climate change adaptation community, including national governments, researchers, multilateral development agencies, and civil society.

Following short presentations by the speakers, participants were invited to join a subsequent workshop to better understand the diversity of adaptation decision-making processes in the context of development, and identify barriers and solutions to a better use of robust decision-making approaches. Workshop participants were called upon to share experiences from the design and implementation of adaptation projects, and identified key lessons learned and areas for further research or experimentation, as well as present tools and approaches for better planning. Overall, participants emphasized the role of applied research in informing adaptation priorities, the importance of climate information in decision-making, and the benefits a resilience thinking tool such as STAP’s own Resilience, Adaptation Pathways and Transformation Assessment Framework (RAPTA) can bring to a field like climate change adaptation where decisions have to be made within a context of great uncertainty.