Global Environment

The Fourth Asia Pacific Seminar on Climate Change - Section 5-8

5. ROUND-TABLE DISCUSSION

(Item 6 (d) of the agenda)

1. Summary of discussions

62. The Seminar noted the need to further assist the small island states of the Asian and Pacific region in capacity-building efforts in the field of climate change. These requirements had been emphasized in the Barbados Declaration adopted by the Global Conference of Small Island Developing States, held in Barbados in April 1994, and the Manila Declaration adopted by the Second East Asia and Pacific Parliamentarians' Conference on Environment (EAPPCED 2), held in Manila in February 1995.

63. The Seminar noted that a considerable number of initiatives were supported by technical assistance programs in the field of capacity building on climate change issues. The representative of the United States National Studies Programme informed the Seminar of the many forthcoming conferences and workshops scheduled by the United States National Studies Programme for the region. He invited all ESCAP countries to participate in these events if they wished.

64. The Seminar concurred that synergies should be promoted in the region among various bilateral and multilateral technical assistance programs taking place at the national level. The sharing of information on national activities and country studies should be supported by sustained efforts. The Seminar recognized that regional initiatives might effectively address such requirements by disseminating regional information among the countries and international organizations.

65. The Seminar concurred that institutional mechanisms should he identified and supported to promote the exchange of information in a continuous and effective manner. Initiatives such as the series of Asia Pacific Seminars on Climate Change, the Asia Pacific Network on Global Change Research supported by the Government of Japan, and the ESCAP Regional Network on Climate Change would provide suitable mechanisms for this purpose. The representative of SPREP called the attention of the Seminar to the Sustainable Development Network, of which SPREP was a nodal point.

66. In particular, the Seminar noted that regional networking among national focal points would assist in disseminating information in the region and, at the same time, would support the development of a necessary national coordination framework with the assistance of regional and international agencies. It was also considered that existing institutional mechanisms could be more effective in assisting the region in monitoring and evaluating the various activities and programmes.

67. The Seminar noted that there is a need to foster the involvement of regional scientists in assessment activities on climate change and particularly on research programs dealing with climate change modeling. The Seminar noted that the publication of the Second Assessment Report by IPCC was expected in December 1995. Therefore, the next Asia Pacific Seminar on Climate Change could provide a forum for the dissemination of the latest IPCC outputs in the region.

68. The Seminar recognized that the region needed greater efforts to promote public education and awareness on climate change issues. Suitable communication activities should be identified to involve the public at large. Suitable educational and information material should be produced and disseminated in the region.

69. The representative from the Interim Secretariat of UNFCCC informed the Seminar about awareness raising material produced by the Interim Secretariat, copies of which were made available to the delegates. He also called the attention of the Seminar to the information package produced by CC:INFO on climate change activities, copies of which were available from the Interim Secretariat.

70. Involvement of the community at large, and in particular, of local governments and nongovernmental organizations would be crucial to the implementation of the UNFCCC and the enactment of the agreed upon principles. The Seminar was informed that Saitama Prefecture, Japan and the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), in collaboration with the Environment Agency of Japan, would he hosting the Third Local Government Leaders' Summit on Climate Change at Omiya, Japan in October 1995.

71. Consistent with recent findings of the IPCC, the Seminar noted the need to strengthen commitment to GHG reductions beyond those contained in the UNFCCC, and urged all parties to consider strategies for further reducing GHG emissions beyond present levels.

72. The Seminar recalled that the UNFCCC contains commitments by Annex II Parties regarding financial and technological support to developing countries, including through the Financial Mechanism, and stressed the importance of implementing the commitments.

73. The Seminar considered that the particular concerns of the Asia-Pacific region that were reviewed and discussed at the Seminar should be brought to the attention of the forthcoming First Conference of the Parties to UNFCCC.

6. SPECIAL SESSION ASSESSMENT OF THE IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE

(Item 7 of the agenda)

72. Prof. Nobuo Mimura of Ibaraki University of Japan presented a paper on Impacts of Global Warming on the Coastal Zone in a special session. The paper highlighted the findings of the 1990 IPCC first assessment report and scientific predictions made in the 1995 second assessment report, noting the complexities involved in determining vulnerability induced by ENSO. The scenarios covering the scientific findings on global warming and its impacts on coastal systems was the main feature of the presentation. Specific case studies on vulnerability, indicating the scenarios and indices were presented. The paper also mentioned the latest results for projections of sea level rise in different parts of the globe and its general, environmental and socio-economic impacts. Finally, the paper presented the concepts for timely response strategies to recognize the susceptibility, to reduce the vulnerability, and enhance the resilience of the coastal systems to climate change and sea level rise. The emphasis was put on consideration for integrated coastal zone management as a precautionary action. The presentation indicated the special time-scale characteristics of global environmental issues, highlighted by a comparison with the Kobe earthquake. The presentation was concluded by a suggestion to use the strategies wisely to mitigate and to prepare for the future climate change. Discussions took place on the ability of GCM to predict the ENSO and El Nino, models to evaluate the additional erosion of sandy beaches, and a prediction of possible impacts on specific countries such as Bangladesh.

7. CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS

(Item 8 of the agenda)

73. Participants of this Seminar appreciate the gravity of the consequences of climate change, its causes, and the need to take affirmative action with the setting of workable mechanisms for cooperation, for which the following recommendations are formulated:

  • (i) Consistent with the Declarations of Barbados and Manila, regional institutions such as ESCAP and regional development agencies such as ADB have a critical role to play in assisting Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to implement their commitments under UNFCCC. To this end, such institutions should, inter alia:
    • a) establish and develop special programs to enhance endogenous capacity-building of SIDS in the area of climate change;
    • b) support, through appropriate technical and financial assistance, country driven projects, programmes and initiatives to assist SIDS to assess their vulnerability to climate change and identify strategies to alleviate the adverse impacts of climate change;
    • c) having recognized the vulnerability of SIDS to the impacts of climate change, implement specific activities to mitigate and adapt to adverse impacts of climate change , as required by Chapter I of the Barbados Programme of Action.
  • (ii) Expedite information exchange, redirect energies and resources to promote regional cooperation for more effective capacity-building efforts toward regional and national climate change related institutional strengthening.
  • (iii) The climate change scenario models should he adapted to regional scale. The capacities of experts from the countries of the Asian and Pacific region should be developed for the adaptation and application of these models.
  • (iv) Research should be directed towards improvement of the models and methodologies for the evaluation of greenhouse gas emissions and their impacts, with a view toward providing reliable and well-informed decision-making.
  • (v) A regional system based on existing national monitoring systems for continuous monitoring and updating should be developed for the estimation of greenhouse gas emissions using improved data and methods. Efforts should he made to publicize the findings, taking into account Article 6 of UNFCCC on Education Training and Public Awareness.
  • (vi) Greenhouse gas emission control measures should be applied where necessary and sink enhancement including monitoring should be applied under a consistent long-range policy in the interest of developing strategies for infrastructure support of climate monitoring. The capacity for monitoring greenhouse gases should also be strengthened.
  • (vii) The most effective and least costly means of reducing emissions or enhancing sinks should he identified and pursued effectively by the national governments of the region in collaboration with ADB GEF and other multilateral agencies.
  • (viii) Research should be promoted in database development related to climate change in association with appropriate regional organisations.
  • (ix) Effective mechanisms should he established to ensure that all ESCAP member countries have access to cost-effective technologies/methodologies for minimising greenhouse gas emissions.

8. ADOPTION OF THE REPORT

(Item 9 of the agenda)

74. The Seminar unanimously adopted its report on 17 March 1995.

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