In a changing climate, policymakers and legislators are facing new challenges in development planning and responding to climate impacts across a range of sectors. Recognising the need for joined-up working to face the common challenge of climate impacts, the brought together a full spread of policy makers but also build links with legislators who are building the legal framework for adaptation.
The three-day International Conference on Climate Change Adaptation: Policy, Practice and Legislation drew 150 leading policymakers, legislators, experts and representatives of multilateral agencies from China and 35 developing countries to Beijing to explore major opportunities for China and developing countries to work together to make their countries and communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change. Conference participants also had the opportunity to learn of China's achievements in planning for and responding to climate impacts.
The conference approved unanimously a set of Guiding Principles for Climate Change Adaptation; South-South Cooperation, Practice and Legislation and expressed strong support for a second conference on Climate Change Adaptation to be held in 2014.
Summary of proceedings
Opening remarks and key note speeches were delivered by Director General Su Wei, China's National Development and Reform Commission, Vice Director General Michel Mordasini, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and Hon Cedric Frolick MP, Chairperson of the South African National Assembly.
Day 1 of the conference began by focusing on China, the host country, and on key South-South partners, and by sharing what has been achieved during the ACCC project to reduce other countries' vulnerability to climate impacts.
Madam Huang, Director of the International Cooperation Division of the Climate Change Department of China's National Development and Reform Commission*, said that UK and Swiss support has played an important role in China's capacity building, noting that the drafting of China's National Adaptation Strategy had drawn upon the same expert pool and research base as the ACCC project.
Madam Huang expressed the wish for a continuing successful relationship through triangular cooperation as China meets its South-South Cooperation commitments and international commitments on climate change. China has made a significant commitment of 200 million RMB to cooperating with other developing countries on adaptation through technology transfer, training and mutual learning, making it a major part of the growing work in this area.
Ma Zhongyu, Deputy Secretary-General, Ningxia Provincial Government, presented on the preliminary results of joint research into provincial decision makers attitudes and knowledge in China, noting that 50% of decision makers fully understand adaptation measures, with more awareness amongst decision makers in coastal regions. The survey found key knowledge gaps including public health and urban infrastructure.
Day 2 of the conference explored key opportunities and avenues for South-South cooperation through policy and practice across 4 thematic areas, how adaptation needs and challenges can be met by South-South cooperation on climate change, and what the entry points for addressing these issues might be.
Day 3 focused on legislation for climate change adaptation with discussions about the merits of various approaches to adaptation legislation and the sharing of case studies.
Zhai Yong, Director General for the Environment Protection and Resources Conservation Committee in the National People's Congress made clear that, in future, all development planning should hang on environment, nature and carry capacity. He highlighted the significant legislative work going on in China for CCA, noting in particular the current revision of the environmental protection law and the drafting of the climate change law.
Xianfu Lu, UNFCCC Secretariat, pointed out that domestic legislation on adaptation is as much about job creation, safeguarding economic growth and protecting public health and should be talked about in these terms. She talked about the importance of compliance to ensure implementation and legally created incentives for private sector involvement.
Legislators shared case studies of domestic legislative efforts from Micronesia to Mexico.
The conference closed with Hon Cedric Frolick MP, Chairperson of the South African National Assembly, presenting the unanimously agreed upon Guiding Principles and a response by Dr Ma Aimin from the National Development & Reform Commission of China (NDRC):
"Although the impacts of climate change are local and varied, there is much we can learn from each other about how to approach our response. That is why we have developed a set of Guiding Principles that will help legislators and policymakers to ensure that the response is as effective as possible and learns the lessons from others' experience."
"These Guiding Principles will assist China to develop the adaptation elements of its climate change legislation."
The conference was organised by the Adapting to Climate Change in China project (ACCC) in partnership with The Global Legislators' Organisation (GLOBE International) and the INTASAVE Partnership.
ACCC is a joint project between China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the Swiss Agency for Development & Cooperation (SDC) and the UK Department for International Development and Department for Energy and Climate Change (UK DFID & DECC)