The Chair recalled the decision by the Committee at its previous session to extend the mandate of the Working Group on Climate Change for another year under the continued chairmanship of Henning Wuester. It was agreed that during this period, the Working Group would aim to forge a unified approach to Durban and develop programmatic approaches to support the implementation of climate change action.
Before turning the floor over to Mr. Wuester to introduce the progress report of the Working Group on Climate Change (CEB/2011/HLCP-XXII/CRP.4), the Chair informed the Committee that he had become aware that Mr. Wuester had been assigned new and extremely demanding tasks in the lead-up to Durban that had impacted on his ability to devote the required level of attention to the Working Group. Following consultations, the Chair was pleased to report that Elena Manaenkova, Assistant Secretary-General, World Meteorological Organization, was willing to volunteer her services for the remainder of the Group’s mandate.
The Chair expressed his warm appreciation on behalf of the Committee to Mr. Wuester for his excellent stewardship of the Group. Mr. Wuester recalled that since 2007 the Working Group had focused its work on three levels of activity: (a) information- and knowledge-sharing, which had generated a community of practice and a sense of complementarity among agencies; (b) coordinated external outreach, which had resulted in a joint and coherent set of messages on the United Nations system “delivering as one” at the annual climate conferences; and (c) the coordination of specific activities and overall programmatic approaches, an area that could usefully be expanded but would require an investment in resources by the membership.
He noted that the Cancun Agreements had set the basis for establishing an implementation architecture. The United Nations system should therefore be guided by this architecture as it developed its programmes and activities for 2011 and beyond so that it could better support the implementation of climate change action, in particular in developing countries. In that light, the Group had agreed earlier in 2011 to continue its work, focusing on specific deliverables and providing a more strategic response to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change process through promoting delivery on the ground and by giving priority to capacity-building and adaptation.
With regard to the United Nations system’s preparations for the climate conference in Durban, the Working Group had agreed that the focus should be on further developing the implementation architecture of the global climate regime. Regarding the side events, while the requests had been reduced from over 35 to the present list of 15, there was a need for greater collaboration among agencies in organizing the joint events; the deadline for finalization would be the following week. He noted that the Committee needed to also consider whether it should proceed with an overall high-level CEB event, as it had in past years. In this regard, he noted that the event of 2010 had been particularly successful, as it had brought the Secretary-General and United Nations system leaders in direct dialogue with the parties. He thanked the agencies that had provided resources to the Working Group and stressed the urgent need for renewed and substantive commitments going forward, to allow the Group to fully implement its planned activities.
In the ensuing discussion, Committee members highlighted initiatives in which they were engaged, such as measures to reduce emissions from ships by 30 per cent by 2030, and the insertion of human rights and gender considerations into climate policy measures. The importance of the humanitarian dimension of climate change was stressed, and it was suggested that it needed to be brought out more clearly in the side events that were being proposed.
A number of speakers addressed the importance of a jointly agreed policy framework that allowed for operationalization at the country level, and the role of the United Nations system in strengthening the linkages through a two-way dialogue. To this end, the United Nations Development Group guidance note to country teams entitled “Integrating climate change considerations in the country analysis and the UNDAF” was recalled. It was suggested that collaboration between the Working Group and the United Nations Development Group Task Team should be enhanced, and that the Committee might request a report from the United Nations Development Group at its next session on priority setting on climate change. It was also suggested that the Working Group be used for high-level strategic debates to position the United Nations in the climate negotiations, for example, on the issue of the Green Fund.
There was strong support for convening a high-level CEB event along the lines of the successful event of 2010, when the Secretary-General and executive heads spoke with one voice, engaging in dialogue with the parties. It was suggested that the incoming Chair of the Group might wish to consider these and other issues in taking forward the Committee’s work on climate.