To contribute towards the CoR message for the UNFCCC COP 19 in Warsaw (PL)
To emphasize LRAs experience and expertise in addressing adaptation issues
Stress the sense of urgency for action
*2016 update: *
• The Opinion recommends focusing on cities and urban settings to ensure the EU territory is adequately prepared to face climate-related damage. It recommends providing support in the form of a platform which would promote and help voluntary commitments from cities to adapt to climate change. The European Commission shared the CoR vision that a clear focus should be given to urban settings and launched the Mayors Adapt initiative. Following the position of the CoR Opinion to oppose the creation of another initiative on climate for local authorities to avoid duplication of resources and confusion, the Mayors Adapt initiative was eventually merged within the Covenant of Mayors in 2016 following the COP21 conference. The Covenant of Mayors now officially includes both mitigation and adaptation measures.
The activities of the rapporteur and of the CoR members have increased the profile, inter-institutional role and visibility of the CoR in the field of adaptation to climate change, in particular:
• Mr Swannick, as rapporteur for the CoR opinion on adaptation in the EU, has been working with two world renowned experts on adaptation to write the CoR Opinion on adaptation. This high-quality Opinion was largely welcome by the European Commission which agreed on all its recommendations.
• The rapporteur and subsequent CoR members actively participated in the promotion of local adaptation in the EU and worldwide by promoting the Mayors Adapt initiative, the Covenant in the EU, the Global Covenant and its specific declinaison at the COP20-21-22 UNFCCC gatherings to high-level climate stakeholders of the world.
• The rapporteur also had a direct impact on the negotiations between countries at the COP20 UNFCCC. He participated in a roundtable discussion on adaptation to climate change. The roundtable, under the banner "Warsaw Dialogues", was organised by Polish authorities which were holding the COP presidency. The participants selected to take part in the Warsaw Dialogues discussions issued recommendations which were gathered into a report formally handed to negotiating parties during the UNFCCC Cities Day in the presence of UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, and countries part of the COP20 UNFCCC. This way the CoR had a unique opportunity to feed in its positions on adaptation directly into the UN climate negotiation process.
• Following the recommendations of the CoR to support cities through an EU-wide initiative and the corresponding launch by the European Commission of the Mayors Adapt initiative, the Committee of the Regions pro-actively promoted the initiative to its 343 members in Plenary session and ENVE Commission meetings. It also promoted it both during the COP20 UNFCCC and the COP21 UNFCCC by speaking at high level events such as conferences organised by the Italian Presidency together international partners from Latin America and worldwide organisation such as CARE International.
• The Committee of the Regions also took the initiative forward by exchanging about it with all local and regional leaders as well as networks it is working with during climate international conferences.
• The Committee of the Regions is now a partner of the European Commission and the contractor managing the initiative to ensure its development. It is participating alongside EC Commissioners (CLIMA and REGIO) and adaptation local leaders to official launch and ceremonies to give the issue a high level of prominence in political agenda and within the media.
• In line with the CoR Opinion, the European Commission and the Council of the EU, both institutions negotiating at UN level on climate, supports the vision that both mitigation and adaptation are important and should be given attention, in particular adaptation within the most vulnerable countries.
THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- recognises that the effects of global climate change impacts could be as equally significant as local impacts to some European cities and regions and therefore, sees the need for a wider focus for adaptation strategies beyond the EU;
- views green infrastructure as providing a classic "low regrets, low-cost adaptation" option that will help increase resilience in urban areas;
- is extremely concerned about the impact of climate change on agricultural, forestry and fisheries production;
- contends that greater attention is required in the SACC to driving adaptation forwards at the local level, where impacts are experienced most acutely and first responders are located;
- recognises that funding is key to the implementation of adaptation responses at a local level;
- recognises the importance of local and regional networks in the promotion of adaptation measures, and believes that EU funding should be used to provide appropriate financial support for such networks. However, the CoR does not recommend a new organisation or voluntary commitment for adaptation, as suggested in the SACC, as it would create duplication, be confusing to participants and could waste valuable resources. The existing Covenant of Mayors should be better resourced, and re-launched as a network focused on climate action in both its aspects, mitigation and adaptation;
- concludes that, due to the urgency required, the proposed review of the strategy in 2017 should focus not only on progress with national adaptation strategies and whether legislation is necessary in the future, but also should be the target date for achievement of a number of implementation milestones at all governance levels, and that the SACC should be accompanied by guidance and support for sub-national bodies as well as Member States to achieve these milestones;