National Adaptation Plans, or NAPs, were established at the 17th conference of the parties to help enable countries to assess their vulnerabilities, assess climate change risks, and address adaptation (Decision 5/CP.17) “The agreed objective of the NAP planning process are: (a) to reduce vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, by building adaptive capacity and resilience; (b) to facilitate the integration of climate change adaptation, in a coherent manner, into relevant new and existing policies, programmes and activities, in particular development planning process and strategies, within all relevant sectors and at different levels, as appropriate.” (Decision 5/CP.17, paragraph 1)
These plans are intended to aid countries for medium and long-term planning. The plans are intended to be used by countries to advance current country plans, consolidate adaptation activities, ensure learning in planning and implementation, identify climate change risks, and create confidence in the agencies implementing these plans. There are four main elements of NAPs: (1) lay groundwork and address gaps, (2) preparatory elements, (3) implementation strategies, (4) reporting, monitoring and review. (Annex to Decision 5/CP.17)
Laying the groundwork involves initiating the NAP process by assessing overall goals of the country and what strategy the country should take. This includes stock-taking (identifying possible and probable impacts to the country from climate change and any vulnerabilities) and assessing institutional and technical capacity gaps the country may have that would inhibit their implementation of their NAP.
The preparatory stage looks at models and scenarios of possible affects climate change could have on the country. For example, the country looks at current weather patterns and observed data collected by scientists to analyze and predict what might happen in the future. This process helps to assess any vulnerabilities that the country may have and create plans locally and nationally. This is also the stage where costs and benefits are analyzed for each of the possible plans, as well as how to prioritize, how inputs of stakeholders will be incorporated, and how information about the NAPs will be communicated and disseminated. Finally, integration takes place; integrating the NAP into the ongoing development process, looking at opportunities that can be generated through the integration, and facilitating the process.
Implementation strategies prioritize climate change adaption in national planning, develop long-term NAP implementation strategies, enhances capacity for planning and implementation, and promoting coordination at the local and multilateral level. The final stage – reporting, monitoring, and review – is just that.
At a side event this afternoon, I learned Bangladesh is currently working on a NAP which looks at health security, disaster management practices, infrastructure, knowledge/management/research, and institutional impact. Bangladesh is currently experiencing storm surges, and flooding (which impacts crops and food security), out-migration, fog and hail, and a changing ecosystem. Malawi is also seeking to implement a NAP based on their vulnerability, which includes road flooding. Some challenges Malawi faces are insufficient policy, institutional and legal framework, problems up-scaling, issues with insufficient capacity building and training programs, low skills and know-how among the general public, and low public awareness.
You may have noticed, as I did, that biodiversity and wildlife are not directly considered under NAPs. While it is true that many species would probably indirectly benefit from NAPs, their survival and the maintenance of their habitats is not part of the guidelines. Wildlife organizations, such as the National Wildlife Federation, have taken it upon themselves to create plans and guidelines (like the UN for NAPs) for helping wildlife and habitat conservation. These guidelines assess wildlife and habitat vulnerabilities and provides strategies for dealing with climate change. To help protect and conserve biodiversity, NAPs should include guidelines and assessments for wildlife adaptation plans.
Why should people care about conserving biodiversity? Aren’t the people of the countries implementing NAPs more important than the animals? No. Wildlife is just as important and, in fact, countries depend on biodiversity. For most people, biodiversity provides various sources of food, clothing, shelter, and medicine.* Other benefits include the contribution of animals to the food web by the transferring energy and nutrients and the fact that many species that help with decay and regeneration of plants and forests.* These reasons make terrestrial ecosystems dependent on a high diversity of organisms for the functioning of the ecosystem to be efficient.*
It is essential that adaptation include biodiversity. All species must be considered when implementing adaptation plans for the coming effects of climate change. Animals did not create this problem, but they are being effected in the same way, or worse, than people. They deserve to be protected and considered in NAPs.
*Ruth Patirck, Biodiversity: Why Is It Important?, in Biodiversity II 15, 15-17 (Marjorie L. Reaka-Kudla, Don E. Wilson & E.O. Wilson eds., 1997).
**Much of the information gathered for this report was from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s “The National Adaptation Plan Process: A Brief Overview” put together by the LDC Expert Group, December 2012.