Monday, August 11, 2008

Where’s the plan to cope with climate change?

Razen Manandhar

Kathmandu, August 10 [2008]
Nepal has not been able to come up with an action plan to cope with the impact of climate change, thanks to vested interests of international organisations. As a result, $2 lakh given to Nepal to prepare the plan has been lying idle.
Nepal was supposed to prepare a National Adaptation Programmes of Action to benefit from the international provision of supporting the Least Developed Countries on how to cope with climate change.

Despite a lot of hue and cry at the national and international forums, initiatives to prepare NAPA came a cropper. Files gathered dust in the Environment Ministry for some time and it took more time for the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to okay our proposal. GEF has agreed to provide $200,000 for NAPA drafting, while the United Nations Development Programme has agreed to finalise the document for Nepal.
But, instead of preparing the long-waited document, officials are trying to lure more international donors and make it a bigger project.

What is NAPA?

Article 4.9 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) recognises the specific needs and special situations of LDCs. It recommends LDCs to prepare NAPAs on their own. It generally provides a process for the LDCs to identify priority activities that respond to their urgent and immediate needs with regard to adaptation to climate change.

The rationale for NAPAs rests on the limited ability of LDCs to adapt to adverse effects of climate change. The NAPAs take into account existing coping strategies at the grassroots level. In this process, prominence is given to community-level input as an important source of information, recognising that grassroots communities are the main stakeholders.

Once NAPA is prepared, Nepal can seek millions of dollars for coping with climate change. Six years have passed since Nepal started talking about drafting NAPA, but loose talks have led us to nowhere. It may take several years for Nepal to come up with a functional plan. It’s an irony that 35 out of 40 LCDS have submitted their NAPAs.

Decision 28/CP.7 of UNFCCC has set guidelines for NAPAs. According to the guidelines, any country can prepare their plans. In order to effectively address urgent and immediate adaptation needs, NAPA documents should be presented in a simple format, easily understood both by policy-level decision-makers and the public.
Out of the 35 countries, Mauritania was the first country to submit its plan. The last one was Sierra Leone, which submitted its NAPA in June 2008.

Role of UNDP
UNDP official Tek Bahadur, tasked with preparing NAPA, says it is taking more time to prepare a draft because UNDP is looking for some more donors, who can contribute to NAPA and prepare a bigger document.

“We are meantime looking for other donors, who can help us with more money. Instead of preparing conventional NAPA, we have a vision of making an ‘Extended NAPA’, which will cover more areas,” says he.

The new project document has added segments of knowledge management and learning centre as well as multi-stakeholder strategy in the NAPA. According to him, DANIDA and DFID are providing one million dollar for preparing NAPA.

But the question is whether the UNDP has the authority to go for extended version of NAPA and look for international donor agencies without the ministry’s consent. As a focal point, preparing NAPA is the responsibility of the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology. It has nominated UNDP as the implementing agency, but has not been able to keep the things under its control.

Lack of political commitment for the preparation could be pointed out because we hardly have any ministry in our political history, which has the slightest knowledge of environmental issues. Many environment ministers even do not visit the offices. Expecting them to understand issues like NAPA is asking for too much.

We have a bureaucracy in which capable officials are transferred to other ministries if they refuse to bow to political pressure. Some ministry officials try to use their expertise to grab more “lucrative” seats. In these circumstances, it’s no wonder if the minister fails to draw attention of institutions concerned and have NAPA drafted on time.

Sources at the ministry say there has hardly been any official correspondence between the ministry and the UNDP over drafting of NAPA. Though the ministry is well-informed about NAPA, it’s recommendation has not been sought.

Role of NGOs

Drafting of NAPA, the document that enable Nepal to earn millions of dollars for adapting to climate change, has been lingering for years, while hundreds of non-governmental organisations have been keeping mum. None of the organisations working for nature conservation, clean energy and climate change have criticised the implementing agency for the delay in the preparation of NAPA.