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Earth Negotiations Bulletin
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A Reporting Service for Environment and Development Negotiations
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Volume 12 Number 356 - Friday, 14 March 2008
10-12 MARCH 2008
The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Expert Group Meeting on socioeconomic information under the Nairobi Work Programme on Impacts, Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change (NWP) was held from 10-12 March 2008, in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. Approximately 70 participants were in attendance, representing governments, UN agencies and constituted bodies, academia, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and those contributing as experts. The meeting aimed to identify specific gaps and needs in integrating socioeconomic information into impacts and vulnerability assessments and adaptation planning.

The workshop generated a number of recommendations regarding: ways and means to improve the availability, accessibility and effectiveness of information on socioeconomic aspects of climate change; integrating socioeconomic information into impact and vulnerability assessments; and the application of socioeconomic information in the context of adaptation planning.

The report of the workshop will be forwarded to the twenty-eighth session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 28), scheduled to convene in June 2008 in Bonn, Germany, and will contribute to a summary report on the NWP that will be distributed in advance of SBSTA 29, to be held in December 2008, in Poznan, Poland.


Climate change is considered to be one of the most serious threats to current and future sustainable development, with adverse impacts already observed on the environment, human health, food security, economic activity, natural resources and physical infrastructure. The international political response to climate change began with the adoption of the UNFCCC in 1992, which focused on controlling and responding to changes in the climate. Thus, the UNFCCC sets out a framework for action aimed at stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference” with the climate system. Along with mitigation of greenhouse gases, the UNFCCC also supports countries’ efforts to adapt to the impacts of climate change, through capacity building, technology transfer and funding to support adaptation assessments and projects. The UNFCCC entered into force on 21 March 1994, and now has 192 parties.

MITIGATION: In December 1997, delegates to the third meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 3) in Kyoto, Japan, adopted the Kyoto Protocol, which commits developed countries and countries making the transition to a market economy to achieve quantified reduction targets for their greenhouse gas emissions. These countries, known under the UNFCCC as Annex I parties, agreed to reduce their overall emissions of six greenhouse gases by an average of 5.2% below 1990 levels between 2008-2012 (the first commitment period), with specific targets varying from country to country. The Protocol also establishes three flexible mechanisms to assist Annex I parties in meeting their national targets: an emissions trading system; joint implementation of emissions-reduction projects between Annex I parties; and the Clean Development Mechanism, which allows for projects to be implemented in non-Annex I parties. To date, there are 177 parties to the Kyoto Protocol, including 38 Annex I parties. The Protocol entered into force on 16 February 2005.

ADAPTATION: Unlike mitigation of greenhouse gases, adaptation to the impacts of climate change is a cross-cutting theme under the UNFCCC. In particular, Convention Article 4.1 states that parties shall “formulate, implement, publish and regularly update national and, where appropriate, regional programmes containing measures to…facilitate adequate adaptation to climate change,” and “cooperate in preparing for adaptation to the impacts of climate change.” Convention Article 4.4 states that developed country parties shall “assist the developing country parties that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change in meeting the costs of adaptation to those adverse effects.” One of the most significant articles for adaptation is Convention Article 4.8, which says that “parties shall give full consideration to what actions are necessary under the meet the specific needs and concerns of developing country parties arising from the adverse effects of climate change.” Negotiations under this article laid the groundwork for discussions on adaptation under the UNFCCC. While COP 1 in 1995 addressed funding for adaptation (decision 11/CP.1), it was not until the adoption of the Marrakesh Accords in 2001 that adaptation became a prominent area for action, as set out in decision 5/CP.7 (adverse effects of climate change).

Following consideration of the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), parties initiated a discussion on adaptation at COP 9 in December 2003. At that time, the COP requested the SBSTA to work on scientific, technical and socioeconomic aspects of, and vulnerability and adaptation to, climate change (decision 10/CP.9).

Parties reached a milestone in 2004 at COP 10 with decision 1/CP.10, known as the Buenos Aires Programme of Work on Adaptation and Response Measures. The programme of work was later elaborated on at a workshop in Bonn in October 2005. COP 10 set up two complementary tracks for adaptation: the development of a structured five-year programme of work on the scientific, technical and socioeconomic aspects of vulnerability and adaptation to climate change under SBSTA, which was adopted at COP 11 (decision 2/CP.11); and the improvement of information and methodologies, implementation of concrete adaptation activities, technology transfer and capacity building under the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI). As part of the latter, at the request of the COP, three regional workshops and one expert meeting for small island developing states (SIDS) were held to facilitate information exchange and integrated assessments to assist in identifying specific adaptation needs and concerns.

NAIROBI WORK PROGRAMME: In November 2006, COP 12 renamed the SBSTA five-year work programme the Nairobi Work Programme on Impacts, Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change. The work programme aims to assist countries, in particular developing countries, including the least developed countries and SIDS, to improve their understanding and assessment of impacts, vulnerability and adaptation, and in making informed decisions on practical adaptation actions and measures to respond to climate change on a sound scientific, technical and socioeconomic basis, taking into account current and future climate change and variability. To achieve these aims, the NWP has nine areas of work: methods and tools; data and observations; climate modeling, scenarios and downscaling; climate-related risks and extreme events; socioeconomic information; adaptation planning and practices; research; technologies for adaptation; and economic diversification.

The expected outcomes of the NWP are:

  • enhanced capacity at the international, regional, national, sectoral and local levels to further identify and understand impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation responses, and to select and implement practical, effective and high-priority adaptation actions;
  • improved information and advice to the COP and its subsidiary bodies on the scientific, technical and socioeconomic aspects of impacts, vulnerability and adaptation;
  • enhanced development, dissemination and use of knowledge from practical adaptation activities;
  • enhanced cooperation among all actors, aimed at enhancing their ability to manage climate change risks; and
  • enhanced integration of adaptation to climate change with sustainable development efforts.

A workshop on climate-related risks and extreme events was held from 18-20 June 2007, in Cairo, Egypt. A workshop on adaptation planning and practices was the second event of the nine focus areas of the NWP and was held from 10-12 September 2007, in Rome, Italy. An expert group meeting on methods and tools and on data and observations under the NWP were held from 4-7 March 2008, in Mexico City, Mexico.


On Monday morning, 10 March, Joseph Howard, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Planning, Housing and Environment, Trinidad and Tobago, welcomed participants and opened the meeting.

Youssef Nassef, UNFCCC, welcomed participants and expressed appreciation to the Government of Trinidad and Tobago for hosting the meeting. He said climate change impacts are already being observed and experienced, and are affecting, inter alia, food security, floods and droughts, coastal communities, poverty infrastructure, human health and tourism. He also emphasized reliable data and information, particularly socioeconomic information, is critical, and that, while most countries have undertaken assessments; a further enhancement of the methodological basis is still needed.

SBSTA Chair Helen Plume (New Zealand) chaired this meeting and highlighted the mandate of the NWP, which is to assist parties to improve their understanding of impacts, vulnerability and adaptation, and to make informed decisions on adaptation. She emphasized identifying ways and means to improve the integration of socioeconomic information and how they relate to adaptation planning. She said this meeting would set the stage and provide the way forward on this subject, and provide clear recommendations at the upcoming SBSTA meeting.

Emily Gaynor Dick-Forde, Minister of Planning, Housing and the Environment, Trinidad and Tobago, noted this meeting is a significant milestone in the implementation of the NWP and highlighted its critical importance for Caribbean countries. She also said the meeting would help Trinidad and Tobago establish a new system for integrating socioeconomic information and mainstreaming adaptation into policies and planning activities.


Youssef Nassef, UNFCCC, provided an overview of recent, ongoing and expected developments on adaptation under the UNFCCC, and explained how the NWP fits in. He identified six main elements under the UNFCCC that complement the NWP: follow-up activities under decision 1/CP.10 (adaptation to the adverse effects of climate change); funding for adaptation; National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs); the work of expert groups; capacity building; and the Bali Action Plan, which charts a new negotiating process on climate change with the aim of completing it by 2009 and includes adaptation as one of its four building blocks. He explained that the different tracks – the NWP, decision 1/CP.10 and the Bali Action Plan – should serve to reinforce each other and feed into the future process, and pointed out areas where synergies could be catalyzed. He reiterated that less than two years remain before COP 15, when the new agreement must be finalized, to advance adaptation action.

Festus Luboyera, UNFCCC, described the goals, activities and expected outcomes of the NWP. As expected outcomes of the meeting, he listed: stocktaking of the role and availability of socioeconomic information; consideration of efforts to enhance integration of socioeconomic information into impact and vulnerability assessments; recommendation of specific actions to address gaps and needs; identification of actors to undertake the recommended actions; and input for a Call for Action.

Hugh Pitcher, IPCC’s Task Group on Data and Scenario Support for Impact and Climate Analysis (TGICA), described TGICA’s work, particularly of the Data Distribution Center. He described several issues with the socioeconomic data that should be taken into account in scenario development such as transition/delayed development, demographics, land use and downscaling. He also highlighted the current gap in the representation of needs and interests of the impacts, adaptation and vulnerability community in scenario development, and said the community needs to create a framework to better communicate data and information needs.


DIFFERENT SPATIAL SCALES: Regional scale: Alex de Sherbinin, Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), described CIESIN’s focus on data development, management and distribution, and research. He discussed: examples of socioeconomic data for impacts, vulnerability and adaptation assessments, noting they are spatially differentiated; and hazard distributions, and the importance of knowing where people are in relation to drought and floods, and sea level rise. He also discussed: exposure versus vulnerability; whether poverty can be used as a proxy for vulnerability; the need for spatial data at the global and regional levels and difficulties in obtaining it; and the pros and cons of census versus survey data. Concluding, he said climate change greater than 2° Celsius is likely to happen, spatial data is vital, and an increasing amount of spatially disaggregated data on hazard exposure, aspects of vulnerability and coping capacity is available.

National scale: Ainun Nishat, World Conservation Union (IUCN), Bangladesh, discussed socioeconomic baseline information and scenario development at the national scale, emphasizing scenarios for planners preparing adaptation plans. He discussed adverse impacts and adaptation options, such as flood management strategies, and elaborated on positive and negative impacts of climate change on agriculture. He said all sectors should integrate climate change into their programmes. Regarding scenario development, he highlighted tools and methodologies for analysis, including planning by projection, using climate models and downscaling to the local level. Regarding tools for analysis, he emphasized community based vulnerability assessments, hydrodynamic models, consultation with local communities, and the role of communities in disaster management. He said baseline socioeconomic data at the country level was needed, including data on: population and its growth rate, migration patterns, education and income distribution. Regarding expertise needed to plan for adaptation, he emphasized: good projected scenarios; traditional knowledge; advance forecasting; participatory involvement; and both top-down and bottom-up approaches.

Local Scale: Pradeep Kurukulasuriya, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), identified challenges for monitoring adaptation as measuring adaptation and managing the complexities of attribution, relevance and calibration. He explained that the UNDP monitoring framework for climate change adaptation consists of six thematic adaptation areas and corresponding adaptation processes and indicator types. He said that coverage, impact, sustainability and replicability are the indicators of success of a portfolio or project. Kurukulasuriya also emphasized that monitoring and evaluation should be placed in the local context and that global lessons of local projects should be captured. He explained that UNDP uses a specific methodology, the Vulnerability Reduction Assessment, in its activities. He also underlined the UNDP Human Development Report/Human Development Index and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) support initiatives that put socioeconomic information at the center of development, and noted emerging linkages between climate change, the Human Development Report and the MDGs.

Plenary discussion: Environmental Development Action in the Third World (ENDA-TM) pointed out that vulnerability should consider more than just poverty. De Sherbinin agreed that vulnerability is not a simple function and that communities may have high adaptive capacity due to traditional knowledge and other factors.

Responding to the Stockholm Environment Institute’s (SEI) query about failures in incorporating socioeconomic data, Nishat discussed difficulties in including local perspectives. He also noted that decision makers often do not use the available data for planning activities.

SustainUS asked Kurukulasuriya about UNDP’s experiences working with local communities and he responded that communities usually do not understand the concept of climate change, and much effort is required to find a common language. He also said some communities, like farmers, need information for immediate application in crop planning.

Responding to a question about the role of global scenarios, Nishat answered that they are necessary for planning purposes. Chair Plume also emphasized the importance, as well as difficulties, of downscaling.

In response to a query from Tanzania to provide examples of adaptation to climate change, Nishat noted that in Bangladesh local communities have recognized something unusual happening with the weather, but that the government needs to be convinced to take action.

DIFFERENT SECTORS AND SYSTEMS: Water resources: Emil Cherrington, Water Center for the Humid Tropics of Latin America and the Caribbean (CATHALAC), discussed the integration of socioeconomic and geophysical data into the assessment of climate vulnerability, asking, inter alia, what types of socioeconomic data are integral to the water resource component of climate change and what are climate change’s impacts on the region’s biodiversity. He discussed: needs and availability for geophysical and socioeconomic data for vulnerability modeling; available tools such as climate change scenarios; the need for downscaling climate data to assess possible impacts; and translating the data into action. He emphasized determining socioeconomic data through vulnerability assessments, the importance of spatially explicit socioeconomic data, and identifying vulnerable areas.

Agriculture and Food Security: Albert Binger, Caribbean Community Climate Change Center (CCCCC), described environmental and socioeconomic characteristics of the agricultural sector in the Caribbean. He noted the agricultural sector is in decline and affected negatively by climate change, and discussed volatility of markets and trade impacts in the region. He said the region was most vulnerable due to impacts on food security and dependence on trade. He stressed that in adapting regional agriculture to climate change, the following, inter alia, are needed: identification of consumption patterns; improved water management, including managing watersheds; better integration of sectoral plans; addressing conversion of agricultural lands; increased research and development capacity; more synergies with other sectors, such as water and housing; and less dependence on sugar and energy inputs.

Health: Hans-Martin Fuessel, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, noted: the complexity of the health-climate change relationship; a wide range of climate-sensitive health risks, such as heat stress, vector and water-borne diseases, malnutrition; risks associated with extreme weather events; and uncertainties regarding future risks. He noted that in the health sector most data has been initiated by the users, not the modelers, which explains why stronger integration of climatic and socioeconomic information exists in the health sector. He said: the majority of health assessments do not involve quantitative estimates of future health risks; use of socioeconomic scenarios is currently limited; generic socioeconomic information is typically considered in scenarios for health assessments; and assessments may additionally consider scenarios ofdisease-specific socioeconomic information.

Coastal Zones: Espen Ronneberg, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), in his presentation on the Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change project (PACC), described PACC’s goal of increasing resilience and enhancing adaptive capacity of coastal communities and infrastructure. He said that PACC has three focal areas: water resource management; coastal management and infrastructure; and food production and food security. He described the methodology of PACC using the example of project activities on Kosrae, an island in Micronesia. Ronneberg also noted that the Pacific Islands are in the process of finalizing an action plan under the Pacific Islands Framework for Action on Climate Change.

Employment and Income: Peter Poschen, International Labor Organization (ILO), highlighted that employment and income issues deserve more attention in adaptation policies. He described the links between employment and income, and adaptation, as seen through resilience, coping strategies, second round implications (e.g. migration), response to planned adaptation and diversification. Poschen said that data on employment, households and enterprises should be incorporated into impacts, vulnerability and adaptation assessments.

Plenary discussion: CIESIN reiterated Binger’s emphasis that trade issues impact on people’s vulnerabilities and livelihoods given difficulties in prediction, the volatility of global markets, and the significant impacts on agricultural communities. He said Ronneberg’s example of a local chief proposing to build a sea wall raised the quandary that in some cases local decisions may not be the most appropriate, and asked how to decide if a local decision is in the community’s best interest. Ronneberg replied that sufficient information must exist to allow proper decisions to be taken, but added that each country’s situation will be different.  The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) said that in reviewing NAPAs for small countries, using Lesotho as an example, she found different criteria are identified in determining adaptation plans, such as impacts on poverty and employment.

University of Nairobi said the impacts of climate change sometimes reduce employment, noting unintended consequences of policy decisions. IUCN discussed the problem of refugees fleeing from coastal zones with sea level rise, and the impact on fishermen’s livelihoods. The ILO said an important adaptation strategy was to diversify economic activities, particularly for those dependent on fishing. Responding to a query from SEI on methodological challenges of incorporating data on external forces, Binger noted difficulties in incorporating or predicting movement of commodities. He also said agriculture in the region needs to be reinvented and more information and technical capacity is needed. Responding to a question on usefulness of global information at the local level and use of local datasets in informing the process, Ronneberg discussed indirect and unexpected impacts of climate change on SIDS.


IDENTIFICATION OF GAPS AND NEEDS: Heather McGray, World Resources Institute (WRI), gave a framing presentation on priorities and data needs for socioeconomic information for impact and vulnerability assessments. She explained factors affecting data priorities and needs relate to the purpose and scope of the assessment. McGray discussed precautionary versus purpose-specific decision-making, noting that data availability will determine which approach should be used. She suggested that sectors, scales, and regions as well as cross cutting issues should be considered in prioritizing gaps to fill.

Participants discussed different approaches to governance information and advantages of regional versus national approaches.

Information providers’ perspective: Alex de Sherbinin, CIESIN, presented on information accessibility and effectiveness, highlighting the Environmental Performance Index (EPI), an international ranking of environmental performance conducted by Columbia and Yale universities and available online. He said the EPI is focused on measurable outcomes, and described the indicators used within various policy categories. He described the “ratio approach,” which assesses how countries’ adaptive capacity changes with each degree of change in average global temperatures. He noted that web mapping technology has immense potential, but needs to be taken beyond the realm of the technologically savvy. De Sherbinin concluded by recommending that governments make better use of existing information before seeking higher resolution data.

Malgosia Madajewicz, International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), discussed information needs for assessing adaptation approaches that work. She stressed that impact evaluations for the assessments themselves need to be part of the planning process from the beginning. She cautioned against continuous repetition of unsuccessful policies and emphasized learning from mistakes made in the broader development agenda. She called for better impact evaluations, noting the cost of repeating mistakes is greater than carrying out an evaluation properly, and stressed the need for policy makers and evaluators to work together, for policy makers to possess statistical skills, and for countries to develop their institutional and human capital.

Information Users’ Perspective: Pasha Carruthers, Cook Islands, identified the socioeconomic information needs of SIDS, including: consideration of the unique conditions of SIDS in scenarios; more integrated and analyzed data made available in a user-friendly format; cost-benefits of response measures; addressing limited expertise through preparing information packages; and including stakeholders’ perspectives. Carruthers suggested possible roles of the UNFCCC, including: providing financial support and facilitating collaboration between countries and research institutions; working with the IPCC on new guidelines on adaptation analysis; improving access to socioeconomic information; increasing documentation dissemination; expanding the role of existing UNFCCC expert groups or creating an adaptation expert group; and integrating the impacts, vulnerability and adaptation community into the work of the IPCC.

Ken Johm, African Development Bank, presented on ClimDev Africa, a programme developed to address climate observing needs as well as the development of improved climate services, climate risk management and decision-making in Africa. He described the role this programme has played in integrating climate risk management into policy and decision-making, emphasizing the need to consider region-specific needs within Africa. He highlighted Africa’s economic dependency on rainfall, and recent links between drought and internal and cross-border migration. He identified major users of climate information, including policy makers and planners in various sectors. He identified gaps regarding: access to information on safety nets; information on community-level coping strategies; and traditional risk management strategies. Lastly, he identified key socioeconomic parameters related to vulnerability, including assets, institutions and knowledge.

Plenary discussion: WRI suggested that decision makers would make better use of available data if it was of higher resolution and thus relevant to their country, and stressed the importance of ensuring that information is available in an accessible format. De Sherbinin said that it is governments’ responsibility to incorporate information gathered into the decision-making processes. Several participants stressed the importance of reducing the costs of performing impact assessments.

BREAKOUT GROUP DISCUSSION ON GAPS AND NEEDS: On Tuesday morning, participants broke into two discussion groups to discuss concrete recommendations on identification of gaps and needs from a users’ perspective and an information providers’ perspective.

Information Providers’ Breakout Group: This group, facilitated by Sharon Hutchinson, University of the West Indies, discussed: the effect of data framing on its applicability to different stakeholders; the lack of availability of quality data; the dynamic relationship between users and providers; and challenges associated with incorporating qualitative information into impacts and vulnerability assessments. Participants also discussed a suggestion by Trinidad and Tobago regarding the development of a climate change data collection guidance document. The group stressed the importance of understanding what drives the need for data, and discussed the relative merits of quantitative and qualitative data. The group then addressed specific challenges faced in gathering data, such as high costs, lack of training, political interference, and lack of communication between ministries. There was general agreement that the overall goal is to ensure that decisions made at the political level are as evidence-based as possible. WRI stressed the need to link biophysical data with the interpretation of socioeconomic information, and added that territorial delineations do not always coincide with environmental zones. Participants also discussed the need to engage private sector generators and users of data, and discussed whether information is a national public good that must be shared. Specific data-collection problem areas were identified, including: health statistics; migration data; poverty metrics; and the skewing of census data for political reasons.

Information Users’ Breakout Group: Beth Lavender (Canada), breakout group facilitator, began with three questions: what types of socioeconomic information are most relevant to vulnerability and adaptation assessments; which information is readily available or accessible; and how can access and policy relevance be enhanced. SustainUS said users should first be identified. Trinidad and Tobago advocated identifying specific sectors. Discussing parties’ experiences in conducting NAPAs, SPREP cited limited interventions and site-specific analyses. El Salvador emphasized: rescuing and appreciating traditional knowledge and local empirical knowledge, and improving good practices in using this knowledge. She also noted development policies often increase vulnerability, and highlighted the importance of using qualitative approaches and indicators. CCCCC discussed negative impacts of privatizing utilities, and said integrating sectors is critical for resilience in his region. IUCN said adaptation action can be designed with data already available in most countries. SEI pointed out challenges in translating raw data into a usable form. The UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) said adaptation should be considered an emergency, so that satellite data can be provided to complement local information and situations. Participants stressed the importance of: historical data; enforcing links between providers and users; identifying costs of non-intervention; prioritization; consulting with a broad range of stakeholders; developing guidelines for collecting data in a systematic way; and local ownership of the process and of the resulting information.


FRAMING PRESENTATIONS: Fernanda Zermoglio, SEI, identified challenges of integrating socioeconomic information into impact and vulnerability assessments, including: framing the problem in relation to the context and objectives; characterizing vulnerability and socioeconomic conditions; considering a diversity of approaches; and lack of resources. She suggested that the NWP can play a role in capacity building, catalyzing the political process, knowledge sharing and stocktaking. She also suggested discussing the following ideas: defining essential variables for socioeconomic information; establishing a distributed global adaptation database; and examining how collective experiences of ongoing projects can contribute to specific challenges, for example, creating a set of best practices.

Lawrence Flint, ENDA-TM, suggested that the convergence of core/basic research and empirical research – called participatory action research – is needed for the study of vulnerability. He described it as characterized by prioritizing social learning, flexibility, interdisciplinarity, seeing the bigger picture, and managing information according to the local context. He also noted that there is no ideal single way to display socioeconomic information for impacts and vulnerability assessments and said that its representation should: be case-specific and integrative; consider a range of relevant biophysical, geophysical, social, economic, political and cultural factors; and be driven and approved by the affected community.

CASE STUDIES: Martha Yvette de Aguilar, El Salvador, addressed a study on integrating vulnerability and adaptation assessments, and planning of rural communities in the coastal plain of El Salvador. She discussed the study’s conceptual framework, and variables of climate vulnerability used: climate exposure, resilience and adaptive capacity. She also discussed: incorporating local knowledge into impacts and vulnerability assessments; and the relevance of linkages across different socioeconomic levels to local adaptation. She addressed synergies between adaptation and mitigation policies, noting: adaptation strategies should include advocacy for effective mitigation; mitigation strategies should not include measures that increase climate vulnerability, such as those that reduce access to or use of land for biofuel production; programmes under the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol are disjointed and not in synergy with the development policy-making process; and a coordinated international response to climate change impacts is critical.

Maggie Opondo, University of Nairobi, presented on a project initiated in Kenya, Mozambique and Rwanda, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and UNDP. She said the goal of the project is to reduce community vulnerability to drought caused by climate change, and to gather socioeconomic information with which to inform policy. She described project activities, including: the establishment of a multi-disciplinary team; a needs and priorities based assessment; and identification of constraints. She emphasized that greater stakeholder engagement encourages project ownership, and that having a policy maker involved in the project facilitated uptake of recommendations. Opondo noted project outputs, including: downscaling of weather forecasts; capacity building and training of farmers; and knowledge concerning drought tolerant crops.

Plenary discussion: In response to a question regarding the use of household surveys, Flint responded that overall they are not very reliable. IRI queried how community views can best be included in data collection and operationalized. IUCN stressed the need to identify synergies that can be achieved between adaptation and mitigation activities, citing the example of mangrove forest management. WRI emphasized the need for knowledge sharing as well as identifying needs and priorities. Flint cautioned that although information can be powerful, the wrong information can be misleading and damaging.


Chair Plume asked panelists to provide priorities to keep in mind when applying socioeconomic information into adaptation planning. Pasha Carruthers, Cook Islands, said vulnerability and adaptation assessments, which include socioeconomic information for decision-making are essential for adaptation planning. She said mainstreaming adaptation planning will not happen automatically or autonomously, needs drivers and a structured process to be successful, and must be better understood at the local level.

Beth Lavender, Canada, stressed the value in integrating socioeconomic information into vulnerability assessments and adaptation strategies, and determining how much information is enough. The ILO said adaptation is about sustainable development, mainstreaming into sectors and locations, and maximizing benefits for development. He further elaborated on whether the right questions are being asked, who is affected and to what degree, and how to maximize benefits for the disadvantaged. He said mainstreaming is the only way to make progress and to ensure resources.

Kishan Kumarsingh, Trinidad and Tobago, stressed: identifying data and information that is required in order to affect planning, identifying vulnerabilities, and assessing characteristics of the vulnerable group to inform additional socioeconomic information. He: discussed secondary impacts of adaptation plans; said socioeconomic impact assessments must complement adaptation planning for effective implementation; and said some traditional economic indicators may not be applicable.

Albert Binger, CCCCC, noted that although SIDS have identified climate change as the number one issue, politicians have yet to act on this. He reiterated that adaptation is a national necessity and there is a need to mainstream adaptation planning. He called for: generating data that discusses key economic sectors, such as water and energy, and impacts; education at the primary and secondary levels; and sensitizing political leaders.

Plenary discussion: Responding to a comment about political will, Binger said that environmental ministries were often relegated to the bottom of the totem pole in his region, even though the environment should be given the highest priority. Chair Plume pointed out that Al Gore had managed to present information on climate change in a way that ordinary people can understand.

SPREP said calls for mainstreaming should consider the limited administrative capacities of SIDS, and noted that the environment ministries are often not adequately empowered. The UK noted the difficulty in mainstreaming vulnerability assessments within the current business-as-usual policy climate, and stressed the importance of considering local scenarios. Lavender described a risk management framework used to evaluate projects, including the projects’ ability to adapt to change. Binger said that incremental steps alone will not be enough to mainstream adaptation, and that major victories are needed to secure momentum.

BREAKOUT GROUP DISCUSSIONS ON INTEGRATING SOCIOECONOMIC INFORMATION INTO ASSESSMENTS AND APPLYING IT IN THE CONTEXT OF ADAPTATION PLANNING: First Breakout Group: This breakout group, facilitated by Lawrence Flint, ENDA-TM, began with a discussion on what can be done to enhance the use of existing socioeconomic information in impact and vulnerability assessments. Participants identified problems related to: collection, storage and accessibility of data; lack of available infrastructure, including adequate internet facilities in developing countries; and appropriateness of information accessed.

On tailoring socioeconomic information to suit the needs of decision makers, Canada cited time constraints of decision makers, and advocated building their capacity and skills to interpret and use the information, and share knowledge. Ukraine said providers should advise policy makers and help determine the climate change component of information. University of Nairobi suggested breaking down information for specific populations and communities and Sudan advocated bottom-up approaches for developing socioeconomic information.

Participants also suggested strengthening existing capacity in developing countries to collect and interpret data, and stressed that socioeconomic data is more difficult to analyze than biophysical data. UNDP suggested a compendium of data on methodologies for assessments. The ILO suggested looking at NAPAs to determine which methodologies have been used, and noted the IPCC recognized that the socioeconomic component was lacking in its Fourth Assessment Report. El Salvador noted that social scientists were often marginalized in climate change studies and assessments, and were struggling to get biophysical scientists to understand linkages between nature and society.

Participants suggested: building capacity of decision makers, targeting key institutions; reviewing previous studies to deduce types of information and whether that information is sufficient; translating information for users, such as meteorology data in a handbook for farmers; translating socioeconomic information for climate studies; giving equal footing to social and biophysical sciences in assessments; and asking the UNFCCC to play a role in providing consistency in approaches.

Regarding what further socioeconomic information or datasets are required, participants discussed, inter alia: traditional and indigenous knowledge, including how to obtain it and integrate it into scientific assessments; and how to recognize and build on traditional coping strategies instead of usurping and replacing them. The group emphasized: working and sharing knowledge with communities; climatologists alone cannot address the issue; and qualitative data must be translated for use in analyses.

Regarding indicators, the group discussed whether to develop universal indicators versus sector-, location- or income group-specific indicators. The group addressed: insufficiency of quantitative, macro-level data; the need for community or sector specific data; developing policy indicators to assist with vulnerability and adaptation assessments; channeling funds towards adaptation strategies; investing in climate research; thresholds to determine when policy adjustments are necessary; and developing indicators at the local scale. UNDP called for defining appropriate indicators in the context of adaptation projects. The ILO said indicators should reflect priorities of those who are trying to adapt.

Participants stressed: the need to recognize indigenous knowledge and integrate it into adaptation planning; disaggregating data; and identifying the scale and level at which information is needed.

Regarding funding, participants agreed funds need to be made available for building internal capacities and capacity in traditional data collecting agencies in order to determine data needed for adaptation and vulnerability assessments.

Regarding research, UNDP pointed to limited funds to support research, and Flint said more research was needed on how to integrate traditional and indigenous knowledge.

Participants also addressed: the need to calculate the economic costs of climate change impacts, building a knowledge base that can be used by different communities; development policies that are increasing vulnerability; and developing a methodology for integrating socioeconomic information into physical assessments.

Second breakout group: Heather McGray, WRI, facilitated the breakout group on integrating socioeconomic information into assessments and applying it in adaptation planning. Participants split into smaller groups to discuss what data exists, but is not well used, and what data needs to be gathered/created in the sectors of coastal zones, water, health, and agriculture.

Coastal zone management: The subgroup on coastal zone management identified the need for: increased valuation of environmental/ecosystem services for investment decision-making and vulnerability and impact assessments; better dissemination of technology information and best practices and linking them to climate change; establishing focal points to leverage existing information; and converging geophysical information with socioeconomic costs.

Water: The subgroup on water identified information needed to address vulnerability and adaptation regarding water quality, quantity and flow variability. They identified information that currently exists but is under utilized, as well as information that needs to be generated, and explored variations across sectors. Regarding water demand, the group concluded that demographic data is mostly available, but needs to be supplemented by additional information, for example on expected migration levels, in order to be useful. They recommended that existing information needs to be further analyzed in the context of adaptation and vulnerability, and made accessible. The issues of pricing, allocation and equitable distribution of water were raised by several participants, with one noting that scarce water is often diverted to hotels, to the detriment of local populations. Another recommendation that was discussed was the need to link with existing processes at the international level, such as the World Water Forum.

Health: The subgroup on health discussed the need for spatially explicit data, including on: poverty, demographics, and water and sanitation needs. He highlighted the benefits of disaggregated, spatially located, high-resolution data. The Cook Islands highlighted opportunities to link with other agencies with common interests, most notably the Red Cross.

Agriculture: The subgroup on agriculture proposed the creation of a vulnerability index that would use indicators to evaluate vulnerability across multiple sectors. They emphasized that all data is collected with a clear objective in mind, and cautioned that drawing upon old data for the purpose of monitoring vulnerability might be problematic if it was collected for a different purpose. The group also discussed dissemination of information at the regional, national and community levels. SPREP noted that indices are useful for tracking a country’s performance over time, but should not be used to compare countries to each other. One participant questioned this approach, saying that it is unlikely that one index would be suitable for all situations, and that a smaller set of well targeted indicators would better serve local needs. The Cook Islands commented that data related to household food production is often overlooked in studies that focus on food produced for market or export. SPREP noted that the UN Food and Agriculture Organization has initiated a programme on climate and food security, and that the University of the South Pacific has written a paper on this topic.


On Wednesday afternoon, rapporteurs from the four breakout groups that were held over the course of the meeting presented outcomes from each: two groups on information providers’ and users’ perspectives on gaps and needs; and two groups on concrete recommendations regarding integrating socioeconomic information into assessments and applying it in the context of adaptation planning.

Information Providers’ Perspective: Emil Cherrington, CATHALAC, reported on socioeconomic information gaps and issues that were identified, including that: basic data is unavailable because it is either not collected or inaccessible (e.g., vital registration data, health statistics, migration data, poverty metrics and water resources); some data arrives in an inappropriate format for decision making; data providers do not have incentives for data generation and/or making it accessible; cross-sector analysis and integration of available information is poor; and dialogue between data providers and users is lacking.

He then presented the following recommendations on behalf of the group:

  • some basic data still needs to be collected;
  • information must be properly packaged to enable decision-making;
  • data generators should be provided with incentives for generation of data and/or making it accessible;
  • the use of newer technologies (e.g., Geographic Information Systems) should be encouraged to allow integrated analysis of data; and
  • dialogue needs to be improved between data providers and users.

Information Users’ Perspective: Maggie Opondo, University of Nairobi, presented conclusions and recommendations identified by the group addressing the information users’ perspective. She identified various users, including: micro level (farmers, households), macro level (local and federal governments), regional level (development banks) and natural resources managers or pro-poor practitioners.

She discussed the various scales of intervention where data is needed, both within and across sectors. She noted the need to consider the issue of privatization and linkages to vulnerability, such as privatizing the water and energy sectors, which can often make users more vulnerable due to increased costs. She also said depending on the scale, different types of information will be required, including:

  • traditional knowledge/local empirical knowledge;
  • best practices;
  • trends on key indicators (disease, economic indicators, incomes, assets and sources); and
  • time series data and links to vulnerability assessments.

She noted difficulties in capturing qualitative data links to vulnerability assessment, and said information collected must reflect development objectives. She cited problems in accessing and using data and identified gaps, and recommended the need for:

  • historical data;
  • data on valuation of ecosystem services;
  • information on the economic costs of climate impacts;
  • analysis of adaptation interventions, including associated costs and benefits, and integrating climate change interventions into the wider perspective of development; and
  • prioritizing data needs.

Regarding accessibility of data, she recommended:

  • creating databases to, inter alia, take stock of existing socioeconomic information and maintain information;
  • dispersing information widely and at multiple levels;
  • collecting data in a more systematic way; and
  • capitalizing on opportunities to undertake valuation.

Regarding capacity to use data, she emphasized:

  • developing skills for use;
  • conceptualizing use of the data;
  • establishing a framework for data analysis; and
  • improving links and dialogue between providers and users.

Integrating socioeconomic information into assessments and applying it in the context of adaptation planning: First breakout group: Hugh Pitcher, TGICA, presented conclusions and recommendations, including: improving institutional capacity for data collection, assimilation, storage and dissemination; and improving infrastructure for accessing information, such as through broadband internet and training to use the data.

Regarding tailoring of socioeconomic information for decision makers, he said the group recommended:

  • building knowledge-sharing capacity;
  • a bottom-up approach for identifying useful data for decision-making;
  • the UNFCCC should provide more consistent approaches; and
  • identifying the correct people to target in decision-making.

On valuing the role of socioeconomic information in the analytic process, he recommended the need for:

  • an appropriately balanced set of tools and a methodology for creating a more balanced framework for analysis;
  • a multi/interdisciplinary process; and
  • demonstrating the value of using an integrated framework.

Regarding what socioeconomic information is required, he emphasized:

  • collecting, disseminating and integrating indigenous information;
  • sensitizing socioeconomic data collection agencies to climate issues;
  • the importance of qualitative information and the difficulties in integrating it; and
  • identifying needs and options for adaptation.

Regarding indicators, he said they were appropriate for analysis, at both the temporal and spatial scale, and identified two primary uses: helping to determine allocation of funds and project level analysis, and monitoring and assessment.

Regarding research needs, he said the group recommended:

  • preserving indigenous information and integrating it with scientific information;
  • looking at impacts of adaptation studies to learn from past experiences;
  • forwarding recommendations to other international and regional fora; and
  • resolving the conflict between development planning and vulnerability, as development programmes may sometimes increase vulnerability.

Second breakout group: Fernanda Zermoglio, SEI, presented this group’s conclusions and recommendations including:

  • developing an open dialogue between providers and users of information and data in order to balance specific data needs against other potential uses;
  • developing guidance on the translation (analysis) of existing data to provide information relevant to climate change; and
  • establishing appropriate channels to link the climate change policy community to leverage existing knowledge, data, experiences and networks.

She also reported on the next steps that will be required, including identifying relevant actors such as universities, regional centers, national agencies, inter-agency national bodies, partnerships and grassroots organizations; and refining sector-specific data needs.

Following Zermoglio’s presentation, participants from this group also stressed: the role of regional organizations as translators of global information for developing countries’ needs; and the dangers of using the Designated National Authority model, including its tendency to marginalize adaptation planning from the development process.


The ILO announced that a number of UN organizations and agencies intend to collaborate on producing guidance on the use of socioeconomic information in the context of vulnerability and adaptation in response to the needs expressed during this meeting.

Chair Helen Plume commended participants for their work and reflected on the meeting’s accomplishments. She remarked on common threads that had emerged over the course of the meeting, including that: existing socioeconomic information needs to be made relevant to climate change policy discussions; data collection needs to consider different geographical and temporal scales; quantitative and qualitative data both have their merits; and that there is a need to develop a consistent format for reporting socioeconomic information in order to enhance its relevance and identify data gaps. Plume said that the meeting’s outcomes will be summarized in a report to be presented to SBSTA 28 in June 2008, and will contribute to a summary report on the NWP that will be distributed in advance of SBSTA 29, to be held in December 2008. She highlighted that the format of the meeting had facilitated an informal exchange among both governments and NGOs, and thanked Trinidad and Tobago for their hospitality and the UNFCCC Secretariat for organizing the meeting. Youssef Nassef, UNFCCC, thanked Chair Plume for her leadership, and congratulated participants on a productive meeting and the useful recommendations that had been generated. The meeting closed at 3:45 pm.


TRAINING COURSE ON DOWNSCALING TECHNIQUES FOR GENERATION OF REGIONAL CLIMATE CHANGE SCENARIOS: This course will convene from 30 March - 3 April 2008, in Bogotá, Colombia. This course is organized under the Iberoamerican Conference of Directors of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services in collaboration with the Iberoamerican Network of Climate Change Offices. This training course is aimed at training relevant stakeholders within the Iberoamerican region on downscaling techniques for generating regional climate change scenarios. For more information, contact: José Ramón Picatoste Ruggeroni; tel: +34-91-436-1496; fax: +34-91-436-1501.

FIRST SESSION OF THE AD HOC WORKING GROUP ON LONG-TERM COOPERATIVE ACTION UNDER THE UNFCCC AND THE FIFTH SESSION OF THE AWG UNDER THE KYOTO PROTOCOL: These meetings will convene from 31 March - 4 April 2008, in Bangkok, Thailand. For more information, contact: UNFCCC Secretariat; tel: +49-228-815-1000; fax: +49-228-815-1999; e-mail:; internet:

FOOD SECURITY AND ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE: LINKING SCIENCE, DEVELOPMENT AND POLICY: This conference will take place from 2-4 April 2008, at the University of Oxford, UK, and is organized by the Global Environmental Change and Food Systems Project. The conference will consider: concepts and methods for research on food systems; vulnerability and adaptation; scenarios; decision support; regional research from the Indo-Gangetic Plain, Southern Africa, the Caribbean and Europe; and links to the development agenda and policy process. For more information, contact: Nina Cosgrove, Food Security Conference Secretariat; tel: +44-1865-843297; fax: +44-1865-843958; email:; internet:

WORLD HEALTH DAY 2008: PROTECTING HEALTH FROM CLIMATE CHANGE: World Health Day will be held on 7 April 2008. The aims of World Health Day are to: raise awareness; advocate for partnerships on health and climate change; demonstrate the role of the health community in climate change; and spark commitment and action. For more information, contact: WHO Secretariat; tel: +41-22-791-5526; fax: +41-22-791-4127; e-mail:; internet:

UNFCCC INFORMAL MEETING OF REPRESENTATIVES FROM PARTIES ON THE OUTCOMES OF COMPLETED ACTIVITIES UNDER THE NWP: This meeting will convene from 7-9 April 2008, in Bangkok, Thailand. It will bring together representatives of parties alongside experts and representatives of relevant organizations to consider the outcomes of the activities of the NWP completed prior to the meeting. For more information, contact: UNFCCC Secretariat; tel: +49-228-815-1000; fax: +49-228-815-1999; e-mail:; internet:

SIXTEENTH SESSION OF THE COMMISSION ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: The sixteenth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development will be held at UN headquarters in New York from 5-16 May 2008. The review session will focus on agriculture, rural development, land, drought, desertification and Africa. For more information, contact: DESA Secretariat: tel: +1-212-963-8102; fax: +1-212-963-4260; e-mail:; internet:

INTERNATIONAL GEF WORKSHOP ON EVALUATING CLIMATE CHANGE AND DEVELOPMENT: RESULTS, METHODS AND CAPACITIES: This meeting will convene from 10-13 May 2008, in Alexandria, Egypt. The GEF Evaluation Office is organizing this workshop, which will permit sharing of experiences in evaluating projects and programmes aimed at the nexus between climate change and development. Special attention will be paid to the results reported and whether there is convergence in findings throughout agencies. The workshop aims to realize the potential of evaluations to contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation. For more information, contact the Secretariat: tel: +1-202-458-8537; fax: +1-202-522-1691; e-mail:; internet:

28TH SESSIONS OF THE UNFCCC SUBSIDIARY BODIES: The 28th sessions of the Subsidiary Bodies of the UNFCCC – the SBI and the SBSTA – are scheduled to take place from 2-13 June 2008, in Bonn, Germany. In addition, the second meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action and the resumed fifth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol are also scheduled to be held. For more information, contact: UNFCCC Secretariat; tel: +49-228-815-1000; fax: +49-228-815-1999; e-mail:; internet:

THIRD SESSION OF THE AD HOC WORKING GROUP ON LONG-TERM COOPERATIVE ACTION UNDER THE UNFCCC AND SIXTH SESSION OF THE AWG UNDER THE KYOTO PROTOCOL: The third meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action is expected to take place in August/September 2008, with the location and date to be determined. The sixth session of the AWG on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Protocol will also take place at the same time. For more information, contact: UNFCCC Secretariat; tel: +49-228-815-1000; fax: +49-228-815-1999; e-mail:; internet:

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE: ADAPTATION OF FORESTS AND FOREST MANAGEMENT TO CHANGING CLIMATE WITH EMPHASIS ON FOREST HEALTH: A REVIEW OF SCIENCE, POLICIES, AND PRACTICES: This meeting will convene from 25-28 August 2008, in Umeå, Sweden. The meeting will be co-hosted by the FAO, the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and will focus on the current state of knowledge of ongoing changes in climatic conditions in different regions of the world, and the implications of these changes for forest health, forest management and conservation. For more information, contact: Alexander Buck, IUFRO; tel: +43-1-877015113; e-mail:; internet:

FOURTEENTH CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES TO THE UNFCCC AND FOURTH MEETING OF THE PARTIES TO THE KYOTO PROTOCOL: UNFCCC COP 14 and Kyoto Protocol COP/MOP 4 are scheduled to take place from 1-12 December 2008 in Poznan, Poland. These meetings will coincide with the 29th meetings of the UNFCCC’s subsidiary bodies. For more information, contact: UNFCCC Secretariat; tel: +49-228-815-1000; fax: +49-228-815-1999; e-mail:; internet:

Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre
Center for International Earth Science Information Network
Conference of the Parties
Environmental Development Action in the Third World
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
International Research Institute for Climate and Society
World Conservation Union
Millennium Development Goals
Nairobi Work Programme on Impacts, Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change
Subsidiary Body for Implementation
Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice
Stockholm Environment Institute
Small island developing states
United Nations Development Programme
UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
World Resources Institute

This issue of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin © <> is written and edited by Leila Mead, Peter Wood, and Yulia Yamineva. The Editors are Soledad Aguilar and Pamela S. Chasek, Ph.D. <>. The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI <>. The Sustaining Donors of the Bulletin are the United Kingdom (through the Department for International Development – DFID), the Government of the United States of America (through the Department of State Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs), the Government of Canada (through CIDA), the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Government of Germany (through the German Federal Ministry of Environment - BMU and the German Federal Ministry of Development Cooperation - BMZ), the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Commission (DG-ENV), the Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea, and the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN). General Support for the Bulletin during 2008 is provided by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Government of Australia, the Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, the Ministry of Environment of Sweden, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, SWAN International, the Japanese Ministry of Environment (through the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies - IGES) and the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (through the Global Industrial and Social Progress Research Institute - GISPRI). Funding for translation of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin into French has been provided by the International Organization of the Francophonie (IOF) and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Funding for the translation of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin into Spanish has been provided by the Ministry of Environment of Spain. The opinions expressed in the Earth Negotiations Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD or other donors. Excerpts from the Earth Negotiations Bulletin may be used in non-commercial publications with appropriate academic citation. For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at <>, +1-646-536-7556 or 300 East 56th St., 11A, New York, NY 10022, USA.
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