Sharm El-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda for Climate Resilience

Paul Rahmat SVD

Mitigation and adaptation are vital ways to address climate change, according to the Paris Climate Agreement. While mitigation aims to limit climate change by reducing emissions of greenhouse gasses or removing those gases from the atmosphere, climate adaptation is about adjusting to the current or expected effects of climate change. Climate adaptation efforts can be made in many ways, including preventing floods, ensuring freshwater supplies, adapting to heat, improving farming and food production systems, ensuring ecosystem health, and dealing with disasters.

Sharm El-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda

On 8 November 2022, COP27 President Sameh Shoukry launched the Sharm El-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda. The agenda outlines 30 Adaptation Outcomes to enhance resilience for 4 billion people living in the most climate-vulnerable communities by 2030. These outcomes collectively represent the first comprehensive global plan for climate adaptation. They comprise five sectors for taking actions globally and nationally by state- and non-state actors: food and agriculture, water and nature, coastal and oceans, human settlements, and infrastructure.

The main adaptation effort in the sector of food and agriculture is to reduce farm-level greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 21% and improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. Concerning water and nature, the agenda suggests protecting and restoring 400 million hectares of land and freshwater ecosystems. This effort will support indigenous and local communities with nature-based solutions to improve water security and livelihoods and transform 2 billion hectares of land through sustainable management.

Climate change triggers extreme weather like thunderstorms, cyclones, tornadoes, floods, and increasing sea-level rise.  In protecting vulnerable communities from climate hazards, the Sharm El-Sheikh Adaptation agenda proposes to install smart early warning systems. It also suggests investing USD 4 billion to secure the future of 15 million hectares of mangroves through collective action. All existing mangroves have to be conserved, restored, and protected by ensuring sustainable finance.

Furthermore, the COP27 climate adaptation agenda recommends expanding access to clean cooking for 2.4 billion people. Cooking can trigger health problems especially for women and children. It also harms the environment and contributes to climate change. In some developing countries, solid fuels like wood and coal are often used in traditional stoves for cooking. Using such polluting fuels and technologies results in household air pollution, causing respiratory illnesses, heart problems, and even death.  According to the World Bank, around 4 billion people cannot access modern energy cooking services. Instead, they cook on traditional biomass or polluting fuels. Moreover, four million people die every year from illnesses associated with cooking smoke, 50 percent of whom are children under the age of 5.

Clean cooking, which refers to using cleaner fuels and energy-efficient modern stoves, can benefit people’s health, well-being and a sustainable environment. It can reduce the severity and duration of respiratory diseases in children, lower blood pressure in pregnant women, and increase babies’ birth weight. Besides, clean cooking can reduce fuel use by 30-60%, lowering climate-harming emissions. Therefore, COP27 puts clean cooking as part of the Climate Adaptation agenda for action by 2030.

What can we do?

The Sharm El-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda provides a global framework for action to achieve a resilient world, especially in vulnerable communities. It will accelerate transformative efforts by countries, regions, cities, businesses, investors, civil societies, and local communities to adapt to severe climate hazards.

What can we, as VIVAT members, do in this regard? To some extent, we have engaged in climate adaptation efforts in our local communities, even on a small scale, with limited resources. Some VIVAT members plant trees and bamboo or restore mangroves in coastal areas. Others conserve springs, or practice water management, and clean up rivers and coastal areas from plastic waste. Others introduce the use of clean energy and modern stoves for household cooking.

These best practices and noble efforts need to be shared and communicated on a larger scale both nationally and globally. We can promote such initiatives at the level of local or national governments or share them with like-minded partners for financial and technological support. We may also raise questions about the policies and actions governments have taken to implement climate adaptation in their respective countries. We can also advocate for climate adaptation through global fora by means of UN mechanisms such as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and the Voluntary National Report (VNR).