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Small islands lobby for capacity building support to fight climate change

Published:Friday | December 12, 2014 | 12:00 AMPetre Williams-Raynor

LIMA, Peru:

SMALL ISLAND developing states (SIDS) are working to safeguard their long-term capacity to deal with climate change impacts.

This, through negotiations for a mechanism "to coordinate and facilitate all capacity-building activities within the (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) process, similar to how adaptation and technology transfer are facilitated", revealed Clifford Mahlung, coordinator for capacity building for the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).

Little was yielded on the issue in Lima, but it has been put on the agenda to be pursued next year, ahead of the Paris talks where a new global agreement on climate change is expected to be signed.

"There was reluctance by developed country parties to have this mechanism established here in Lima, so the decision is that we will move the process to next year, in the June," Mahlung told The Gleaner.

SIDS undaunted

Despite the delay, SIDS are undaunted, given the high value placed on capacity building.

"Without capacity building, you can't implement any of the activities that are required under the process. The fact is that the number of activities that the developing countries are required to do have increased significantly, and with a new agreement, will increase even more," Mahlung said.

"If you don't have the capacity nationally to do at least a part of this work, you are going to be reliant on bringing in foreign consultants, which is not

sustainable ... . It doesn't allow you to, at some point, take over that process. And we need

support to do that, to develop this capacity," he added.

The new proposed mechanism is to address this need.

"Some capacity is being developed now, but in a very haphazard way... Having a focused and dedicated body will enhance the whole support to developing countries," the AOSIS representative said.

SIDS are not alone in their valuation of capacity building; others have noted the importance of capacity building.

Gao Feng, deputy head of the Chinese delegation, and Giovanna Valverde, co-chair of the Independent Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, have both gone on record to identify capacity building as one of the six key elements that should be included in a new agreement on climate change.

The others they identify as adaptation, mitigation, finance, transparency, and technology transfer.

Meanwhile, Mahlung said it is envisaged that the mechanism will have a managing body comprised of a committee that will "give some permanency to the issues [and] parties an opportunity to focus on capacity building activities outside of just the negotiations because that committee will do all the work, develop a work programme [and] centralise it in one place".

Fallback position

Should they find staunch opposition to a new mechanism, he said they have contemplated a fallback position.

"We have been asking for this for some years now, but it seems as if the developed countries are reluctant ... If we can't create any new institutions, then we should enhance the mandate of one of the existing institutions that has already been established," the negotiator said.

"That will reduce the cost because you would just be expanding the mandate ... We think that has some good chance. Already, we have broached it with some developing country partners and they seem to think it could work. That spells well for what we have to do," he added.