CoP 9 and Beyond : Developing Countries' Perspectives

Kalipada Chatterjee  

The Conference of the Parties (COPs) of the United Nations

Extreme weather events are expected to occur more often because of climate change

Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), held annually since 1995, serves a very important common goal and addresses climate change for the benefit of mankind and the planet Earth.

The Convention on Climate Change, adopted in Rio in June 1992, acknowledged that the global nature of climate change calls for the widest possible cooperation by all countries and their participation in an effective and appropriate international response, in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities, respective capabilities and social as well as economic conditions.

To date, the climate change debate has been confined mainly to issues concerning Annex I countries, particularly their aim of returning to 1990 levels of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (Article 4.2b) and the adequacy of their commitment to stabilize atmospheric GHG concentrations.  Another recent focus has been on the compliance of signatory industrialized countries, who have taken up a common commitment to reduce their combined GHG emissions by at least 5.2% compared to the 1990 level, by the year 1998 - 2012.

Up to COP 8 in Delhi, little concern was shown for the vital issues of economic and social development and poverty eradication in developing countries, which constitute 75% of the global population.  For the first time, these aspects were deliberated in COP 8 and the Delhi Declaration reaffirmed that economic and social development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities of developing countries.

The Third Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has brought out very clearly that developing countries are vulnerable to climate change, due to the lack of capacity, resource constraint, poverty and large population.

In his COP 8 address, India’s Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee highlighted the lack of capacity in developing countries to tackle the adverse impacts of climate change and strongly urged that the UNFCCC convention pay more attention to the aspects of vulnerability and adaptation and stressed the need of adaptation in the areas of water, energy, health, agriculture, and biodiversity.

He also referred to the UN Millennium goal of reducing global poverty by half by 2015 and further referred to the World Summit on Sustainable Development, which recognized that poverty eradication, changing consumption and production patterns, protecting and managing the natural resource base for economic and social development are essential requirements for sustainable development.

The Delhi Declaration (COP 8) called for policies and measures to protect the climate system against human induced changes and integrate these with national development programmes, while taking into account that economic development is essential for adopting measures to climate change.  National sustainable development strategies should fully integrate climate change objectives in the key areas such as water, energy, health, agriculture and biodiversity.

From the perspective of developing countries, COP 9 should therefore have the following thrust areas:

q Capacity building in the areas of adaptation and the clean development mechanism (CDM).
q Massive transfer of financial resources from North to South as well as the transfer of environmentally sound technologies for rapid economic development in the developing countries to address their main agenda: poverty eradication and improvement of the quality of life.
q Creation of a large adaptation fund for the developing countries to take up research and measures for implementation on adaptation particularly for the communities and areas vulnerable to climate change.

In addition, an enabling environment at the international and national levels should be created through the COP 9 process for effective participation of the developing countries in the CDM of the Kyoto Protocol.

Capacity building in developing countries

COP 8 highlighted the concerns of the developing counties over their lack of adequate capacity to respond to the adverse impacts of climate change.  Adequate capacity building in developing countries therefore is one of the key areas for COP 9 to deliberate; COP 9 should come out with a concrete and time bound programme on capacity building in developing countries.

In an assessment of the capacity building needs of 33 developing countries, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) with the Consortium for North-South Dialogue on Climate Change have brought out the need to build capacities of the developing countries at the local, national and regional levels so that they can respond effectively to climate change.  The most important conclusion of this assessment is that increased emphasis on capacity building is a key component to successful implementation of the Convention and Protocol in developing countries.

Capacity building in developing countries can also contribute to national economic development goals to address to poverty eradication and reduction in the growth rate of greenhouse gases.

Developing countries also need capacity building in the area of CDM in order to effectively participate nationally and internationally.  However, an enabling environment needs to be in place both at the host country government level as well as at the CDM Executive Board (EB) level.  Although lax rules will endanger the environmental integrity of projects, if the CDM EB applies rigorous rules and scrutiny, initiatives taken by developing countries will be nipped in the bud and this may prove to be a negative approach.  It is urged that the CDM EB sets up a mechanism during COP9 for institutional capacity building in developing countries to properly and efficiently prepare CDM project design documents (PDD) for submission to the designated national authority (DNA) and CDM EB for approval and registration.  The upfront cost of submission to the CDM EB must be brought down for small scale CDM projects.  COP 9 should encourage the submission of many small scale CDM projects, which can reinforce sustainable development efforts in developing countries.

The following areas in the CDM mechanism need capacity building in developing countries:

q CDM advocacy and awareness generation
q Development of criteria for CDM
q Analysis of CDM eligibility
q Determination of CDM baseline and environmental, financial and technological additionality (later two additionalities are not required under the Marrakesh Accords, but DNA in some developing countries may insist on these additionalities also for the sake of endorsement)

Another aspect that needs careful consideration is the issue of CDM project activities for assisting developing countries to achieve sustainable development.  The Marrakesh Accords have put the prerogative on the host country to confirm whether a CDM project activity assists it in achieving sustainable development.

It is essential that the process of issuance of Carbon Emission Reduction (CER) credits is linked to the annual monitoring and verification of achieving sustainable development goals set in the CDM project document.  If this is not integrated with the process of issuance of CERs, the benefit of CDM to developing countries will be lost.  COP 9 and beyond should modify the provisions suitably. Strategy for capacity building in developing countries.

Key target audiences for capacity building are middle and senior level decision makers, policy analysts and implementers in the government, the private sector and NGOs, as well as in the academic sector.

Tools and modalities for building capacity in developing countries are basically activities such as workshops, stakeholder dialogues, human resource development, the provision of technical assistance and institutional capacity building.

Few indicators may be developed by each of the developing countries to monitor the level of success of capacity building efforts undertaken nationally, regionally and internationally.

Need for transfer of financial resources from North to South

Massive transfer of financial resources as well as transfer of environmentally sound technologies (ESTs) from North to South is another key area that needs to be deliberated upon and decided at the COP 9.  This is in accordance with Article 4.5 under the Convention, which states that the developed country parties and other developed Parties included in Annex II of the Convention shall take all practical steps to promote, facilitate and finance as appropriate, the transfer of or access to environmentally sound technologies and know-how to other parties, particularly developing country parties, to enable them to implement the provision of the Convention.  This provision was further strengthened in the COP 8 Delhi Declaration, which states that the Annex I Parties should further implement their commitments under the Convention, particularly those relating to the provision of financial resources, technology transfer and capacity building.

Adaptation and developing countries

One of most important decisions taken during COP 8 and reflected in the Delhi Declaration is in the area of adaptation to climate change.  It states that adaptation to the adverse effects of climate change is of high priority, particularly for the developing countries that are most vulnerable to climate change, as brought out in the IPCC Report (2002).  The developing countries will be worst affected by climate change.  The developing countries have very little capacity to adapt and cope with climate change due to various factors such as low levels of wealth, technologies, education, information skills, infrastructure and access to resources.

It is widely accepted that enhancing adaptive capacity involves national efforts similar to the principles of sustainable development, such as social development, economic development, environmental protection and conservation and technological innovation and development.  COP 8 decided that effective and result-based measures should be supported for the development of approaches at all levels on adaptation and capacity building for the integration of adaptation concerns into sustainable development strategies.

COP 9 may formalize an adaptation policy and measures for developing countries.  To decide which adaptation opportunities will have the greatest value, emphasis must be given to characteristics such as resilience, critical thresholds and coping ranges.  These attributes are highly dependent on regions even among developing countries.  Lessons learned from past experiences and traditional adaptation practices by communities can provide an understanding of the processes of adaptation to climate change.

Important measures that would enhance adaptation capacity in the vulnerable countries and communities, particularly in developing countries, are:

1.  Research  
Current knowledge of adaptation and adaptive capacity is insufficient for rigorous evaluation of planned adaptation measures and policies of governments.  Further research is required in the areas of climate change and adaptation in the areas of :
(i) water and water conservation
(ii) agriculture and food security;
(iii) human health;
(iv) economic losses due to extreme climatic/weather events such as droughts, floods, cyclones etc. to incorporate these findings in the national policies and measures for adaptation to climate change in developing countries.

2.     Capacity building in developing countries and tools for adaptation

There is a need to strengthen the capacity of the developing countries in coping with the adverse impacts of climate change.  Adaptive capacity can be enhanced by adopting certain tools.

Tools that may be useful for developing countries for adaptation to climate change in addition to research on adaptation include the following:

q Increasing the resilience and coping capacity of communities
q Education, training and public awareness
q Sustainable livelihoods practice
q Cooperative efforts
q Insurance against loss (e.g. crop insurance)
q Technological intervention (e.g. using renewable energy for irrigation)

Measuring Success

Success of an adaptation programme will result from an appropriate combination of the various tools mentioned above.  Indicators of success should be built into any adaptation programme to monitor its efficacy.  Some useful indicators that may be used to monitor such an adaptation programme are:

q Poverty reduction, by measuring the proportion of the population below the poverty line (below US$1 a day per capita income) every five years
q Measuring improvement of general public awareness on climate change as a percentage of the total population
q Measuring the increase in awareness on climate change amongst civil society, policy makers, regulators and industries
q Climate change introduced in the lower, middle and high school curriculum
q A proportion of land area covered by forests and the land area protected for biological diversity
q Per capita carbon dioxide emissions
q Gross domestic product measured as per unit of energy use
q Measurement of the prevalence and death rates associated with malaria
q Proportion of population with sustainable access to safe water.

Cost of adaptation programme for developing countries

Article 4.4 under the Convention, which specifies the commitments of the Annex II countries, states that the developed country Parties and other developed Parties under the Convention are required to assist the developing country Parties that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects climate change in meeting costs of adaptation.

Further, the Marrakesh Accords decided that an adaptation fund shall be established to finance concrete adaptation projects and programmes in developing country Parties that are party to the Protocol, and the Annex I Parties ratifying the Protocol were invited to provide funding for adaptation in developing countries, in addition to the share (2%) proceeds on CDM (Decision-/CP.7).

COP 9 is urged to not only to review funding under the Kyoto Protocol, but also to fulfill the commitment of the Annex II countries under the Convention in meeting the costs of adaptation to climate change in developing countries.

Further, the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF), which was set up in the Marrakesh Accords (COP 7), may be used specially for adaptation until a full fledged adaptation fund is set in place.  Any further delay in establishing an adaptation fund may endanger the lives and properties of millions of people and vulnerable communities in the developing countries.


Developing countries have waited for the last 12 years for action on the question of capacity building, transfer of technology, financial resources to deal with climate change and setting up a large adaptation fund.

COP 9 is urged to take decisions on action-oriented and time bound programmes in this regard, with definite tools to monitor the progress and success.  It is also urged that the official delegation from developing countries in COP 9 raise the issues brought out in this paper “COP 9 and Beyond: Developing countries' perspectives” for a time bound action programme and decisions.   r

Back to Contents

    Donation Home

Contact Us

About Us