Adaptation matters (more) after COP28 

Unlock adaptation finance: a slogan on the keys at the COP28 Climate March. PHOTO: Albin Hillert/LWF

By Niko Humalisto

It was expected that COP28 in Dubai would revolve around controversies on loss and damage; instead, it is likely to be remembered as a threshold when the world decided to transition away from fossil fuels. Significant progress was also made on how humankind can adapt to the unfolding climate crisis. 

Before Dubai, climate negotiations had failed to define adaptation goals. Having no agreed goal had led to the fragmentation of adaptation activities and funding projects in the Global South. Too many claimed to target adaptation needs which, in reality, had no relevance at all.  

Global Goal on Adaptation 

As a result, there was significant pressure to define a shared Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA). The work program to define it, launched at Glasgow’s COP26, had reached its end. After parties in the technical negotiations had sabotaged any progress in defining the goal, the political dialogues at COP28 were able to deliver decisions.  

The most significant contributions of the GGA are its eight thematic target areas, which range from advancing food security on our warming planet to protecting cultural heritage. Parties also agreed to a cycle for evaluating needs to tailor action and support. This consists of dimensional targets on planning, implementation and monitoring, most to be achieved by 2030.  

The framework that will guide action has several principles that are important for ACT Alliance: targeting vulnerable populations such as women and people with disabilities; respecting human rights; and supporting local leadership. It also emphasises nature-based solutions to build resilience, linking climate and biodiversity.  

Far from final 

The governance framework is far from final. The most obvious omission is the exclusion of defined adaptation indicators. However, a work program has been established to develop science-based metrics. Notably, although action and support are discussed in the framework, no new additional financial commitments were made. On a positive note, a ministerial dialogue was established to develop plans to double adaptation funding. This is needed due to the declining share of adaptation in climate finance – despite a commitment to increase it.   

The decisions made at COP28 will need to be translated into national and sub-national policies guiding adaptation action. ACT Alliance members have diverse expertise in building adaptive capacities, decreasing vulnerability and increasing resilience. This is a golden opportunity for members to advocate for establishing or renewing existing national policies to reflect human rights and equity-oriented outcomes in the GGA – and to follow the progress of turning words into action.  

Niko Humalisto is a member of the ACT Alliance Climate Justice Advocacy group. He works as a leading advocacy specialist in Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission and holds a title of an adjunct professor in the University of Eastern Finland. Apart from his work in advancing climate finances and circular economies, he volunteers in the bicycle workshop of Turku, Finland.  

Acknowledge local resilience in global climate forums

By Jessica Novia

YAKKUM Emergency Unit (YEU) supports over 50 women’s and community groups  in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, where we help develop community insight and responses to the profound impact of a changing climate.

In these vulnerable regions, rapid-onset disasters include floods, landslides, and strong winds that cause significant damage. Repairs to a family’s home can cost the same as or more than the income from their harvest. Such devastation also affects their mental health. A survey of 34 women’s communities in the Gunungkidul region of Yogyakarta revealed that some experienced PTSD, anxiety, depression, and even suicide as a result of loss and damage. Water scarcity is also a significant threat, made worse by the unremediated environmental impacts of previous development projects. 

Community resilience clear

COP28, the annual global climate conference, has left us reflecting on the urgency of addressing climate change impacts felt by grassroots communities. There is also a need to acknowledge their many resilience efforts. While discussions and commitments at the global level are crucial, we must not lose sight of local efforts. Robust global regulations could ensure recognition of community-based resilience and provide sustained, accessible funding for them. 

In Gunungkidul, the resilience of local communities is clear. In one community, a group of young people initiated a tree planting project called Javanese Bamboo Sewing Earth, drawing inspiration from traditional tree-planting practices. The trees will strengthen and bind the soil, mitigating against landslides. This innovative approach will fortify the soil and bolster the local economy by cultivating economically valuable and sustainable horticultural plants. The young people further preserve their culture by using native trees that are disappearing from the area, and use this Indigenous knowledge to defend against climate threats.

Elsewhere in the region, farmer groups have developed mist irrigation which conserves water and offers easier access to farmers with mobility challenges. Despite this, their crops may fail due to El Niño, which is expected to cause the first drought in the area.  Another example of innovative resilience comes from women’s groups such as the Melati Women Farmers’ Group. Facing ongoing drought, these groups secure their families’ livelihoods by managing water, animal feed, and their rice fields. They also use waste to produce organic fertilizer and manage plastic waste. These activities have allowed them to generate additional income during the dry season and to mitigate the risk of floods in the rainy season.

Women’s groups’ unique insights

Women’s groups often have unique insights into potential disasters, understanding the local context and the specific challenges they face. By including the voices of their representatives, COP meetings could ensure that policies and decisions address communities’ real concerns. Gender justice must be at the forefront, acknowledging how women are often disproportionately affected by climate change. Their perspectives offer valuable insights into building resilient communities and sustainable solutions. Amplifying local voices, particularly those of women, is not just a matter of justice but a practical necessity for creating effective and inclusive climate policies.

Developing inclusive and effective approaches

Community-driven initiatives need direct and accessible funding. Decisions made at global COPs should prioritise the voices of grassroots communities as they grapple with the urgent impacts of the climate crisis. Regulations governing the use of loss and damage funds should ensure easy access for community-based initiatives. Support for capacity strengthening and accountable monitoring should be part of effective implementation. 

A more inclusive and effective approach would include the following steps:

  • communicate climate disaster contexts in simplified, local languages for community understanding;
  • develop partnerships with local organizations that collaborate with communities to leverage insights for effective climate resilience strategies;
  • formalise grassroots women’s leadership in public decision-making structures;
  • channel financial investments to grassroots organisations to build their knowledge, skills, and leadership capacities;
  • prioritise partnerships with grassroots organizations to ensure their access to funding and decisions that are aligned with community priorities. 

A resilient and just future

Climate conference decisions must amplify the voices and experiences of communities on the frontline directly affected by climate-induced disasters. Global leaders should ensure that funds allocated for loss and damage, along with efforts toward gender justice, directly benefit society. COP meetings should transition from theoretical discussions to pragmatic solutions grounded in the realities of the most vulnerable communities.

Local communities, especially women, play a crucial role in identifying and dealing with potential disasters caused by climate change.  With a community-centred lens, we can pave the way for a more resilient and just future.

 

Jessica Novia attended COP28 as an ACT delegate in December 2023. Her work with ACT member YAKKUM Emergency Unit (YEU) includes strengthening the capacities of at-risk groups, people with disabilities, women and older people with community-led disaster preparedness and humanitarian response. She is also a young representative of YEU’s climate focal point, striving to increase accessibility, accountability, and inclusion in her work. 

Display Photo caption: The youth group Karang Taruna Prima Gadung initiated a tree-planting project called Javanese Bamboo Sewing Earth, drawing inspiration from traditional tree-planting practices. This innovative approach will not only fortify the soil and mitigate landslides, but also bolster the local economy by cultivating economically valuable and sustainable horticultural plants.
PHOTO: Lorenzo Fellycyana/YEU

Press Release: COP28 delivers disappointing results

For Immediate Release

December 13, 2023 13:00 GST

Perhaps not surprisingly, COP28 moved into overtime after the Presidency released a weak draft text on December 11, one that was met with disdain by many nations, including the US and the UK, and with civil society organisations and faith groups demanding stronger text.

Although the Presidency was determined to end by noon on December 12th, that timeline was not met, with the final plenary only beginning at 11am  on the morning of December 13. Parties worked through the night to deliver a sort-of consensus, one that left at least one Global South group noting for the record that they hadn’t finished their discussion before the gavel fell.

ACT Alliance followed the negotiations for more than two weeks, with ACT members from around the world keeping track of all climate finance issues, in particular Adaptation and Loss and Damage funding, with an eye on the Global Stocktake. How  human rights and gender were treated in the negotiations were also key concerns.

Overall, COP28 started on a high note for those concerned about climate justice. Parties agreed to operationalise the Loss and Damage Fund with pledges of up to $792 million.  Sadly,  this is less than 1 percent  of what is needed to support people facing the greatest challenges from the impacts of climate change.

Global Stocktake

Unfortunately, the ambition of the Global Stocktake (GST)  is the exact opposite of what is needed to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

What we see in the GST is weak language on human rights. Merely respecting human rights is not enough.

Elena Cedillo of Lutheran World Federation and co-chair of the ACT Alliance Climate Justice group, comments:

Protecting, promoting and fulfilling human rights must be at the heart of the climate negotiations. Leaders at the COP28 climate summit should have put human rights at the centre. Ambitious climate action prioritises justice and equity; there is no climate justice without human rights.

Loss and Damage

 The agreement to operationalise the Loss and Damage Fund on the very first day was a breakthrough.

Elena Cedillo, LWF and co-chair of ACT’s Climate Justice group, comments:

While pledges came in, much more is needed to support people affected by climate change-related loss and damage. Contributions to the fund should be based on common but differentiated responsibilities and the polluter pays principle, not be made on a voluntary basis.

Maua Maro, LWF delegate to COP28 comments:

Though the result of COP28  is disappointing, youth will never give up pushing for more ambition and a clear path to implement the agreed operationalisation of the Loss and Damage Fund.

As youth living in a community where there is no more room for adaptation, mainstreaming non-economic loss and damage, especially on the intangible impacts caused by climate change such as human-induced mobility and displacement, loss of land and people, culture and the knowledge of Indigenous peoples, must be addressed without delay.

Climate Finance

 Julius Mbatia, ACT Alliance Climate Justice lead, comments:

Yet again, climate finance has played an intricate role in determining the level of ambition at COP28. It is clear that the COP28 finance package is worrying. Commitment by rich nations to provide public, new and additional, grant-based concessional finance fell through the cracks on many occasions.

Adaptation

The negotiations in Dubai adopted a framework for the Global Goal on Adaptation. It suggests targets to seven thematic areas and acknowledges the need to develop indicators based on best available science for accountable monitoring of the progress of securing people’s lives and livelihoods in a changing climate.

Furthermore, the framework urges parties to build adaptation action in an inclusive fashion, taking into consideration and involving localised communities, Indigenous peoples and other marginalised groups such as persons with disabilities.

Although the decision pinpoints the need to ramp up action and support for adaptation, poor and vulnerable countries should not be lulled into a false sense of security: the decision only recalls and acknowledges previous commitments that are hardly sufficient for closing the adaptation gap.

Niko Humalisto of Felm in Finland, an ACT Alliance member, comments:

It is saddening that the decision doesn’t demand new and additional finances from developed countries. Without adequate resources, we fail to guarantee the right to development for those who bear the heaviest brunt of the carbon legacy of the richest nations.

Gender

Jessica Novia of ACT member YAKKUM in Indonesia, and an ACT  COP28 delegate, comments:

Climate justice should go hand in hand with gender justice. In Indonesia, there were more than 3,000 disasters in 2023, overwhelmingly hydro meteorological disasters. These disproportionately affect women, girls and people with disabilities. Funding for loss and damage should reach them before its too late.

Mitigation

Mattias Söderberg of DanChurchAid and co-chair of ACT’s Climate Justice group comments:

We now have a new direction for world development. The fossil era is ending and we should move towards a green future. That is great, but the agreement is unfortunately full of loopholes. It will thus be up to each country, how they will move forward. At the same time there is no promise about additional funding to the global south, which means that the transition may not happen. The next COP will focus on finance, and that is when we will find out if this green transition will be possible.

Youth

Savanna Sullivan for intergenerational justice /youth engagement-LWF Program Executive for Youth comments:

The world and the COP must acknowledge that not only does climate change disproportionately affect young people, but that our conversations about justice are incomplete without the creativity and wisdom of every generation – including youth.

Human rights

Sara Savva, Deputy Director of Syria’s GOPA-DERD, an ACT member, and an ACT COP28 Delegate comments:

Climate change is not only a political or economic issue, but also a human rights issue – the biggest in human history. Unless we adopt a human rights-based approach to guide policies and measures of COP28 mitigation and adaptation, climate justice will be a mirage; indirectly violating human rights.

To arrange interviews, please contact:

Mattias Söderberg, co-chair ACT Climate Justice group, Phone or WA +45 29 70 06 09

Fiona Connelly, ACT Alliance Communications, phone or WA +1 647 210-1238

COP28 Blog: Accountability is key at negotiations

By National Council of Churches in the Philippines

On average, at least twenty typhoons make landfall in the Philippines every year; five of these are predicted to be destructive. The

Typhoon Goni, Bicol Region, Philippines

devastation caused by these typhoons has unfortunately become a normal occurrence in marginalised Filipino communities. Somewhat ironically, these communities are being praised worldwide for their resilience and optimism in otherwise hopeless scenarios. The experiences of the people of the Philippines are living testimonies that climate change impacts are not just measured by the strength of typhoons, but by their intersectional and lasting effects on vulnerable communities. 

According to the 2021 Global Climate Risk Index, the Philippines is the fourth most vulnerable country to the long-term impacts of climate change. To take this risk seriously, the country must address the losses and damage caused by the climate crisis and execute adaptation and mitigation measures toward a people-centered development, low-carbon future. 

While the Philippines’ contribution to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is relatively small compared to those of the G20, studies show that the country’s emissions have increased by 114 percent between 1990 and 2017. This is due both to the Philippine energy and industry sectors which continue to build coal-fired powerplants, and to government projects that allow massive degradation of the country’s natural resources through reclamation, land conversions and mega dam construction. The lives of environmental defenders who struggle to protect all life in land and sea are also at stake; as they are deliberately attacked because of their advocacy. It is high time for the country to take genuine steps towards climate crisis mitigation that puts the welfare of people and biodiversity at its core.  

There is also an important global aspect that we would have hoped was addressed at COP28. The National Council of Churches in the Philippines believes that the climate crisis must be addressed by holding major greenhouse gas contributors accountable for the impacts of climate change that their emissions have caused.  

The Council notes that the climate crisis is “a consequence of the historical impact of the patterns of consumption and industrialisation by what are now the wealthiest so-called ‘developed’ nations in the world.” To demonstrate accountability, they must support those countries most affected by climate change’s adverse impacts through climate finance, technology transfer, and capacity building. They should also comply with the global commitments to keep their own carbon footprint in check. 

COP28 has been the ideal occasion in which to demonstrate this accountability.  Decisions at COP28 must include doubling adaptation finance and operationalising the loss and damage fund.  All interventions should uphold and respect human rights. Vulnerable communities must be first in line to access funds that will help them adapt and rebuild sustainably. Wealthy countries can, and must, demonstrate their accountability through just financing of these funds, and by reducing their own emissions exponentially. 

The National Council of Churches in the Philippines is a member of ACT Alliance.

COP28 Blog:  #AnticipatoryAction for the climate crisis

By Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe (DKH)

Reduced impact of hazards when applying anticipatory action. Graphic: Centre for Humanitarian Data.

 Loss and damage can be understood as the negative impact of climate change that occurs despite, or in the absence of, climate change mitigation and adaptation measures. Limits to adaptation are the point at which adaptive responses cease to provide protection against climate impacts. When an adaptation limit is reached, loss and damage will escalate as adaptation is no longer able to reduce negative impacts. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has also warned that even if effective actions to limit global temperature increase to 1.5°C were put in place, loss and damage stemming from climate change are not preventable, as there is a “locked-in” level of warming that already leads to unavoidable consequences. 

United Nations Early Warning for All initiative

Climate, weather and water-related extremes have led to 15 times more deadly hazards for people in Africa, South Asia, South and Central America, and small island states. Over the last 50 years, nearly 70 percent of all deaths from climate-related disasters have occurred in the 46 poorest countries. This initiative aims to enhance collaboration and accelerated action to address gaps and deliver people-centered, end-to-end multi-hazard early warning systems that leave no one behind. 

Getting Ahead of Disasters Charter: One of the biggest obstacles preventing the conversion of early warnings into effective early and anticipatory action is the lack of pre-arranged financial resources. Over 98% of crisis financing is still arranged after disasters strike – despite reliable science to predict them. Evidence from the field suggests that twice as many vulnerable persons can be served at the same cost by deploying resources pre-disaster.  

Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe’s work on locally led anticipatory action 

Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe has a focus throughout our programming on humanitarian disaster risk reduction and tackling the climate crisis. One key approach we have developed is Locally led Anticipatory Action – applied to localize and scale up early warning and early action. We have developed a Guide & Toolkit on this topic in collaboration with our local partners and the Global Network of civil society actors for Disaster Reduction (GNDR).  

We are also supporting our local partners, especially those from the Global South, to establish working groups on locally led anticipatory action, with the Anticipation Hub and ACT Alliance, to influence policies and shape fully and predictably financed, scaled-up early action. 

A call for collective action 

Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe joins our sister organization Brot für die Welt in calling to increase the contribution for start-up financing to the #LossAndDamage fund to one billion euros. We also join Climate Alliance Germany and VENRO in the call for the German Government to advocate for a robust and measurable global adaptation target and to implement the Principles for Locally led Adaptation. We also endorse the ICVA, Joint call on Loss and Damage Fund to empower communities with skills and resources to prepare, respond and recover from climate impacts, including through timely, flexible, predictable, multi-year funding support for both rapid-onset and slow-onset impacts. 

Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe encourages our local partners and other allies to join us in addressing climate change loss and damage by endorsing, making commitments, and promoting the following charter and calls to action. 

Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe is a partner of both the Risk-informed early action Partnership (REAP) and the Anticipation Hub, and a member of GNDR and ACT Alliance. 

 

COP28 Blog: Loss and damage in Zambia

By Rev. Chali Mfuta, United Church of Zambia

The climate crisis has had a negative impact on communities in countries in the Global South which do not have the financial capacity

to mitigate the effects. Earlier this year, on January 22, a tropical storm known as Cyclone Anna hit Madagascar, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia. It caused death, destruction and power outages due to the heavy rains. In the southern part of Zambia, Namwala and Monze districts were very affected by these floods. It really is sad to see the damages, the loss, and the risks that people were exposed to and the mitigation for the same.  

There was severe damage to all the crops as they were submerged in flood waters. Livestock and houses were swept away. This led to hunger in the communities which experienced these losses, making it hard for children, pregnant women and the elderly to survive. 

In the communities of Nanwala and Monze alone, 32,448 households were displaced, leaving a number of people homeless. Everything was submerged in the water so that the affected people had to be airlifted from higher places or the small islands where they had sought refuge.  

The risk of not having shelter, access to clean water and health facilities for vulnerable groups such as the elderly, children and the physically challenged led to fear of violation, abuse, and neglect. Permanent structures for shelter and health and safety services were urgently needed, as was nutrition.  

Assistance came from different faith-based organizations, the Red Cross, the Zambian police force, the Ministry of Health and the government’s Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit. They provided items such as food, toiletries, clothes, tents and medicine, and even spiritual support.  

When reaching out to the community, the priority must be affected households and families. The challenge is the rehabilitation and reconstruction of damaged or destroyed facilities including houses, schools, shops, markets, health facilities and police stations. COP28 is an opportunity to increase funding for these kinds of disasters which affect the most vulnerable communities. The type of funding should be grants and not loans. 

The funds should be easily accessible in order to mitigate the disasters in good time to avoid losing lives. 

As we work towards the climate justice the earth needs, let us also put in place policies and funding that will effectively respond to the damage and loss caused by climate change.  

Rev. Chali Mfuta of the United Church of Zambia serves as minister in Livingstone, Zambia. She is attending COP28 virtually as part of The United Church of Canada delegation. Chali witnessed first-hand the devastating impacts of Cyclone Ana and is a strong climate justice advocate. 

 

 

COP28 Blog: In Syria, adaptation is part of life

Here in Syria, people’s capacity to cope will most likely be significantly reduced in months to come. Syria has been in crisis for the past twelve years. Now, continued inflation and other substantial challenges have made everyday life for Syrians almost impossible to bear.  

After being here for seven years, I can see how humanitarian work has in one way or another, and perhaps indirectly, taken a dive into climate adaptation programming. Climate adaptation has become a vital turning point for many. Syrians already opt for eco-friendly solutions when going about their daily routines – without putting a label on it or knowing that it is part of reducing the world’s carbon footprint and adapting to climate change.  

Syrians ride bicycles instead of driving cars, they install solar panels and establish home gardens. These are just some of the many activities that are more affordable, support many livelihoods, and use reliable resources.  

The humanitarian response to climate change in Syria will soon feel a growing demand. One very successful way for the humanitarian community to engage in climate programming is to access adaptation funding to increase multi-purpose cash and in-kind assistance. This can protect livelihoods, reduce humanitarian needs, and strengthen people’s adaptive capacities and resilience. 

We in the humanitarian sector must advocate for funding for disaster preparedness, early recovery and resilience-building activities to be part of climate-related adaptation, and we can do so with a unified voice at COP28. At the moment, we do not have clear information about donors and climate financing streams, let alone how local actors can access such funding. 

Sara Savva is Deputy Director of Gopa-Derd, one of ACT’s newest members.  She is also an ACT delegate at COP28 from December 7 to 12.

 

 

COP28 Blog: loss and damage in the Horn of Africa

By Vincent Ondieki

The World Meteorological Organization reports that increasing temperatures and sea levels, changing precipitation patterns, and more extreme weather are threatening human health and safety, food and water security, and socio-economic development in the Horn of Africa. They further note that climate variability and climate change are major obstacles to resilience in the Horn of Africa, where increasing temperatures and shifting rainfall patterns are already affecting economic growth, livelihoods, food security, health, and ecosystems. 

Due to El Nino, devastating flash floods have killed at least 111 people, including 16 children, across the Horn of Africa in recent weeks. More than three-quarters of a million people have been displaced and the rains show no sign of slowing. In Kenya’s northern counties and capital, Nairobi, unrelenting rainfall has led to widespread flooding. An estimated 80,000 people have been displaced or marooned in this area alone, and a further 46 have died since the beginning of the rainy season in September. Fatalities and missing persons are being reported on an almost daily basis.  

Save the Children reports that heavy rainfall in Somalia and the Ethiopian highlands has left the central Somalia town of Beledweyne completely submerged. The Shabelle River burst its banks, forcing about a quarter of a million people, a full 90 percent of the population, from their homes. Across Somalia, eight children were amongst 32 people who are known to have died in the floods, with close to half a million displaced across the country. In Ethiopia, at least 33 people, including eight children, have died in the floods. Most drowned while trying to flee the devastation caused by the ongoing rains.  

Ironically, the El Nino rains come on the heels of the worst drought in this part of Africa in 40 years, a drought which itself followed five failed rainy seasons. The droughts and lack of rain had already decimated livestock and crops, pushing the region to the brink of famine. These weather events so cruelly following each other illustrate the extreme and irreversible impacts of climate change on already vulnerable communities in the Horn of Africa and the resulting losses and damages that vulnerable communities suffer. 

Thankfully, at COP27 parties agreed to establish a funding arrangement for losses and damages such as these. The commitment to a Loss and Damage Fund represents a renewed commitment to supporting local, rural, and vulnerable communities most affected by the climate crisis.  

At both the first Africa Climate Summit and the Africa Climate Week this past September there was a resounding call for the operationalization of the Loss & Damage Fund – including setting up a board to guide its directions. The COP28 transition committee has developed proposals for the fund on governance structure, replenishment, and accessibility.  

What happens in and beyond COP28 in Dubai must make loss and damage funds accessible to vulnerable communities. This is critical for climate justice and rebuilding trust, so that communities and nations can rebuild sustainably. If not, options exist to double commitments to finance adaptation to avoid occurrences of losses and damages. This is my wish for COP28.  

Vincent Ondieki is an Environmental Governance and Climate change specialist who has worked nationally (in Kenya) and continentally (in Africa). He recently started working with ACT Alliance on climate justice issues in Africa.

COP28 Blog: Vulnerability and climate finance

By Niko Humalisto

The distribution of the $100-billion-dollar climate finance commitment sparks competition among developing countries vying to be primary recipients of support. Notably, many African least developed countries (LDCs)

haven’t received aid from the key UN fund for climate action. Prioritising these limited finances for actions yielding the most benefits aligns with the interests of countries mobilising these funds. Central to this prioritisation is the concept of particular vulnerability. 

In climate negotiations such as COP28, nations often highlight their vulnerabilities: the Arabian Peninsula faces extreme heat, island states are grappling with rising sea levels, and countries with savannahs are at risk of desertification. Consequently, there is growing competition to establish vulnerability to increase the chances of being eligible for climate finance for mitigation, adaptation, and loss and damage in future. 

The competition for finance is partly due to scientific ambiguity. Vulnerability lacks a singular definition and can vary in terms of duration (long or short term), geographic scale, and an emphasis on societal, technological, or natural causes of vulnerability. Different scientific criteria lead to inconsistent results when answering the question of whether climate finances are largely targeted to vulnerable countries. Since a scientific consensus might not soon emerge, a political solution becomes imperative. 

Vulnerable or particularly vulnerable nations 

However, defining vulnerability politically remains not only ambiguous but controversial. The Paris Agreement identifies Lesser Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) as particularly vulnerable. The Bali Action Plan, established at COP13, designates Africa as “most vulnerable” alongside SIDS and LDCs. The original 1992 convention on climate change outlines various criteria affiliated with biophysical conditions, such as lowland coastal areas prone to floods or areas with high desertification risk as particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. Despite attempts to differentiate between vulnerable and particularly vulnerable nations, all developing countries are eligible for climate funding. 

As negotiations proceed for the new quantified collective climate finance goal and the establishment of modalities for the Loss and Damage Fund, donor countries have noted that some Gulf states already have a higher GDP per capita than they do. This poses a challenge to a more than thirty-year-old division of donors and recipients. Many developing country groups strongly oppose this challenge and emphasise developed nations’ historic responsibility for climate change and corresponding responsibility to rectify it. The ambiguity in both scientific and policy realms impedes the creation of meaningful mechanisms to delineate eligible and non-eligible countries. 

Focus on local leadership and vulnerable populations 

For civil society organisations dedicated to promoting climate justice, having a position on this issue—a thorny, cross-agenda debate—is crucial. One approach is to emphasize local leadership in climate action, recognizing that when it comes to vulnerability, disparities within countries often surpass those between countries. ActAlliance also stresses targeting vulnerable population groups for financial aid, such as Indigenous people, persons with disabilities, or smallholder farmers. There is no scientific ambiguity as to whether these groups are vulnerable or not. Another avenue involves not committing to pre-established boundaries on particular vulnerabilities, opting instead to evaluate problems on a case-by-case basis as modeling technologies advance. 

We must also acknowledge that economic prosperity, climate change, and vulnerability are dynamic processes which require evolving criteria for financing eligibility. Insisting on robust differentiation mechanisms between countries based on vulnerability at this stage might do more harm than good. This is especially the case when there are existing avenues to channel financial resources into combating the climate crisis without increasing geopolitical tensions.  

Niko Humalisto works as a leading advocacy specialist for ACT Alliance member the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission and holds a title of an adjunct professor in the University of Eastern Finland. Apart from his work in advancing climate finances and circular economies, he volunteers in the bicycle workshop in Turku, Finland.   

  

COP28 Blog: Argentina’s changing climate most affects smallscale farmers, women, girls, youth and Indigenous

By Gloria Pua Ulloa

Climate change is increasing extreme weather events and has significant impacts on both ecosystems and people’s lives. Droughts, hurricanes, floods, and fires affect millions of people in Latin America each year,

jeopardizing food sovereignty and leading to significant migratory movements in the region.  

The extractive economic model and deforestation promoted by the hegemonic economic model threaten the continuity of rural, indigenous, and farming communities. These communities not only face challenges in their agroecological food production methods but also risk expulsion from their territories. Although there are no official figures indicating the number of people mobilizing in the region due to climate disasters, some estimates suggest that without concrete actions, millions of people could be forced to leave their territories due to climate impacts. 

In the province of Misiones, Argentina, where the Evangelical Service of Diakonia (SEDI, an ACT Alliance member) focuses its efforts and supports groups of farming families, community members speak of how critical the situation is due to prolonged drought and forest fires. Misiones is one of the few provinces in the country characterized by a warm subtropical climate without a dry season. Yet unusually long periods of drought are beginning to affect the region. 

Because of this, many of the farming and indigenous families supported by SEDI have lost vegetable and crop yields. The impact is so severe that they have been unable to preserve seeds for the next annual planting season. This significantly affects their strategies for feeding themselves and their communities, their primary means of resilience during periods of economic crisis such as the one currently affecting the region. Some community members say that they are in an even more pressing situation than during the worst part of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The effects of climate change can be observed throughout the region. This underlines the need for urgent measures to curb the impacts of a changing climate and implement the loss and damage fund. The countries that have contributed the least to climate change are the ones most affected by its effects and require greater efforts for adaptation. Historical contributors to the increase in global temperature should bear the responsibility to contribute in terms of loss and damage, mitigation, and adaptation to protect the most vulnerable populations. 

Climate change also contributes to the growth of extreme poverty in the region. Women, girls, and young people will be the most adversely affected if the situation worsens. Historically, they have borne the brunt of economic inequalities. The worsening of the crisis hampers their chances for a dignified and fulfilling life.  

Our call is for states at COP28 to express their genuine commitment to climate justice and act now!

Gloria Pua Ulloa is a sociologist and works as Gender Justice and Youth Programme officer at the Evangelical Service of Diakonia -SEDI- in Argentina.