Methodological and Technological issues in Technology Transfer

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4.5.5 Capacity building for adaptation

Increasing attention has been paid to the need to develop measures to cope with the climate change already contained within systems. How far such measures will need to go depends on: the magnitude and extent of climate change; the rates of accumulation of greenhouse gases; and, the level of stabilisation of the atmosphere to be achieved. Experiences with recent climate variability have given urgency to the adaptation agenda as it moves to its second stage in the FCCC process, particularly for the least developed countries and the small island states (SIS) amongst them because of their vulnerability. The SIS called for an acceleration of efforts at the UNGASS in October 1999. Few developing countries (or developed countries) have yet fully assessed their vulnerability to climate change and developed adaptation strategies.

Comparatively little consideration has been given in a systematic way to what capacity building is required for Annex II countries for adaptation. There are well developed methodologies as to how to assess the impacts from and potential adaptations to climate change (see, for example, Parry and Carter, 1998) but these may not be appropriate as a basis for assessing priorities for action by national governments of developing countries without modification and interpretation. The methods were originally developed for assessments of discrete climate impacts, not how to cope with future climate change at the local to regional level. And, the perspective of a national policymaker with limited resources, seeking to set priorities for research and then action, is inadequately covered. Existing approaches for evaluating adaptation often are methods and models designed for specific sectors or complex integrated assessment models (see, for example, UNEP and IVM, 1998). Skills, time and resources may not be available to apply such techniques and they may not produce required outputs. There may be too many players in 'traditional' studies: sponsors, researchers and the target community to produce an integrated package without coordination. Capacity-building, including substantive changes to social structures or planning paradigms, is often ignored in favour of evaluating discrete options, such as the cost-effectiveness of a higher sea wall. Weaknesses of these approaches have already been recognised in some national initiatives such as the UK Climate Impacts Programme, where emphasis is placed on facilitating stakeholder engagement to ensure policymakers get useful outputs.

The Programmes sponsored in host countries, such as the US Country studies programme, the UNEP/GEF Country case studies on Climate Change Impacts and Adaptations Assessment and the Netherlands Climate Change Assistance Programme have started work with many countries on impacts and adaptation assessment and in the case of the US Country studies programme, already provided significant capacity building for professionals and institutions (Dixon, 1998). In addition, UNDP's Support Programme for National Communications is starting work on vulnerability and adaptation assessments. In recognition of the gaps that exist, the SBSTA has asked the UNFCCC Secretariat to continue to develop its website relating to decision tools, models and methodologies to evaluate impacts and adaptation strategies (FCCC/SBSTA/1999/L.12). Within the adaptation rather than mitigation agenda, it would seem there is particular need for more support to ensure the scientific datasets, tools and skills are readily available in-country, for the undertaking of impact assessments, particularly climatological data and regional climate models. Impact studies are the basic building blocks for the identification of vulnerability and to enable the formulation of adaptation options. There may also be a need to establish internationally agreed approaches if funds are to be disbursed in the future on the basis of vulnerability indices.

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