A Word from the Chair of the PROVIA Interim Scientific Steering Committee
Welcome to the first issue of the PROVIA Newsletter! We hope that this will serve as a source of information about the development of the PROVIA initiative and about global climate change vulnerability, impacts and adaptation (VIA) related events and developments.
The Programme of Research on Climate Change Vulnerability, Impacts and Adaptation (PROVIA) is a global collaborative initiative, led by UNEP, WMO and UNESCO, which is bringing together partners to better coordinate and communicate VIA research and provide guidance to scientists, governments and practitioners on assessing adaptation options. PROVIA brings these players together to explore the growing notion of “adaptation science”, of which the knowledge supporting it is being brought forth through a “learning by doing” process. The need to share experiences in adaptation is crucial to building this knowledge base that supports policies and practices for those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, particularly least developed countries (LDCs) and other developing countries. Therefore the purpose of PROVIA is not to conduct assessments; but rather to complement processes like the IPCC that already produce crucial assessments by providing a more robust knowledge base.
PROVIA has been in a developing phase since 2010. The time to make PROVIA fully operational is now. In February, UNEP’s Governing Council formally expressed its support for PROVIA for the first time, inviting Member States and the international scientific community to participate in PROVIA and inviting the donor community to provide funding to the initiative.
We encourage you to get involved with this new initiative. If you haven’t already, we invite you take a moment to join our PROVIA network
formally. Submitting your contact information will allow us to keep you informed as the PROVIA initiative becomes fully operational, and will assist us in better planning activities to support our stakeholder community.
Dr Saleemul Huq
Chair, PROVIA Interim Scientific Steering Committee
The First Universal Session of the UNEP Governing Council took place 18-22 February 2013 in Nairobi, Kenya and was the first meeting of UNEP’s Governing Council since the Rio+20 conference in June 2012.
The meeting followed a very ambitious agenda, resulting in the adoption of several decisions including one that, for the first time, gives support to PROVIA. The decision is that the Governing Council:
- “16. Requests the Executive Director, working in close collaboration with relevant UN bodies in particular UNFCCC to further develop PROVIA and provide a status report at the Thirteenth Special Session of the Governing Council in 2014,
- 17. Invites Member States, the international scientific community and centers of excellence to participate in PROVIA to mobilize and communicate the growing knowledge base on climate change vulnerability, impacts and adaptation,
- 18. Also invites the donor community, other sources, and governments in a position to do so to provide funding, and other means of support as appropriate for PROVIA, so that the initiative can move from the design and development phase to an operational phase and enhance its effectiveness and its work from the global to the national level.”
The decision provides PROVIA much needed support to become fully operational. Many Governments were pleased to see an initiative that complements IPCC and UNFCCC processes and expressed support for the further development of an effective programme working at multiple geographic levels.
Furthermore, members of the LDC group to the UNFCCC were invited to attend an informational side briefing about the PROVIA initiative and were invited to explore the possibility of forming an LDC group for PROVIA. During the side event, ministers from the Gambia, Mauritania and Nepal expressed their support for the idea.
On 27 November 2012, PROVIA was featured as part of a side event at the UNFCCC 18th Conference of the Parties (COP18) in Doha, Qatar. The side event, titled “Responding to the adaptation challenge: Coordinating research and communicating information for adaptation through PROVIA“, attracted more than 50 participants, including senior government officials and representatives of international organizations.
The side event included a panel discussion that featured Saleemul Huq, Chair of the PROVIA Scientific Steering Committee; Jason Lowe, Head of Climate Knowledge Integration at the UK Met Office; Pa Ousman Jarju, Chair of the UNFCCC Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group; Richard Klein, PROVIA Scientific Steering Committee Member; and George Manful of UNEP’s Division of Technology, Industry and Economics.
The presentations gave an overview of PROVIA and its priority activities and gave insight as to how PROVIA could help the UN, governments and other stakeholders better prepare for climate change. Prominently featured were the preliminary results of two forthcoming PROVIA publications: a list of global climate change vulnerability, impacts and adaptation research priorities, as well as guidance for vulnerability, impacts and adaptation assessments. Both publications will be formally launched later this year, but overviews of the publications are currently available on the PROVIA website, click here
Most participants in the ensuing discussion believed that it was necessary for the UN to provide a knowledge interface such as PROVIA, in order to communicate vital information about climate change vulnerability, impacts and adaptation. Participants suggested that PROVIA should aim to provide specific advice to VIA communities working at national and local levels and was asked to look specifically at ways that national buy-in might be achieved. Panelist Pa Ousman Jarju emphasized PROVIA’s usefulness to the LDCs in VIA assessments, and to the support of the development of National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) in addressing the adaptation needs of LDCs. It was agreed that PROVIA could complement the IPCC process, and provide a platform to coordinate research in an efficient and cost effective manner.
PROVIA plans to build on this event, using the discussion to further refine its objectives and future plans, in an effort to better meet the needs of PROVIA stakeholders.
During 6-8 November 2012, PROVIA’s Interim Scientific Steering Committee chair, Dr Saleemul Huq, visited the home of the PROVIA Secretariat in Nairobi, Kenya. On 6 November, Dr Huq met with UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner to brief him about PROVIA’s recent developments. Dr Huq provided an overview of PROVIA’s two forthcoming publications that include a list of global vulnerability, impacts and adaptation (VIA) research gaps, and guidance for VIA assessments, [Click to view]
. He also identified the need to put more emphasis on adaptation, as there is a growing demand for scientific knowledge about adaptation.
Prof Joseph Alcamo, UNEP Chief Scientist and ex-officio member of the PROVIA Scientific Steering Committee, also attended the meeting and identified ways that PROVIA activities are relevant to UNEP and to the scientific community. Future PROVIA activities that are being planned include the evaluation of past and current adaptation efforts, so as to create a robust framework for monitoring and evaluating new projects. There are many project evaluation challenges, of which PROVIA can play a role in reconciling different priorities. Prof Alcamo also expressed the need to help UNEP monitor and evaluate its own current and future projects.
Mr Steiner indicated that PROVIA can be an opportunity to help stakeholders fill knowledge gaps. He also indicated that PROVIA can be quite useful to other activities that UNEP is involved in, such as the Global Adaptation Network (GAN), the Poverty-Environment Initiative, the Sustainable Cities Programmes and others. With COP18 just on the horizon, meeting participants agreed that there were more opportunities for PROVIA, especially in providing advice for stakeholders on adaptation options. The UNFCCC has already confirmed that PROVIA can continue to play an important role.
Saleemul Huq, Chair of PROVIA’s Interim Scientific Steering Committee, was involved in a number of awareness-raising initiatives related to adaptation ahead of COP18. He was featured in various media outlets, discussing the need for better links between adaptation science and policy. Dr Huq was featured as a guest columnist with the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), providing a perspective on evolving vulnerability, impacts and adaptation research. He also maintains a column for The Daily Star newspaper, frequently providing views on climate change adaptation. One feature is a perspective on loss and damage from climate change, a key point of negotiation during COP18. In a more recent article, Dr Huq reflects on the Asia Pacific Adaptation Forum, which took place just last month in Incheon, Korea.