How science guides policy in combating climate change at #COP21

By Ilaria Firmian

Friday, 4 December 2015

A side event co-led by IFAD, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) brought together scientific and programme and policy related stakeholders to discuss the role of science in the climate change policy-making processes.

Both Mr Anote Tong, President of Kiribati, and H.E. Mr John Kufuor, UN Special Envoy for Climate Change and Former President of Ghana emphasised ‘people-centred science’ that addresses the needs of local communities. 

Mr. Kufuor stressed that scientific information is crucial. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) proved that immediate action has to be taken to combat climate change.

“This action has to be collaborative, with both North and South together. We should admit that the developing world is not as equipped as the developed world. The civil service and public sector do not have the capabilities required, therefore we need to create partnerships and encourage those who can to come forward and bring those at the bottom up”, stated Mr. Kufuor.

Mr Hoesung Lee, IPCC Chairman, along similar lines, said that the IPCC needs to be as inclusive as possible to ensure a truly global assessment of climate change and recognized that many of the existing knowledge gaps are found in developing countries. He also stressed the need to improve the way the IPCC communicates, and overcome the challenge of simplifying the language of climate change so that it is understood by everyone.

Communication, and especially communication to young people, was also at the centre of WMO Secretary General Michel Jarraud speech. Mr Jarraud said, “The scientific reality is that almost no one is aware of issues such as negative emissions (resulting from carbon dioxide removal technologies), we need to give people a very honest and clear appraisal”.

“The IPCC is not policy prescriptive, but is policy relevant” – He continued – “The decisions we are not making now will have huge costs over the years. We need to look at the consequences over the future generations”.

The intervention of Ms Margarita Astralaga, brought concrete examples from IFAD’s Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme. The examples illustrated the roles and needs of local communities in climate-related policy making processes, including how smallholder farmers, when receiving climate information, can start to frame a local response to buffer climate impacts and engage more effectively with local planning processes.

 “Local communities need to have information, understand it and influence policy”, Ms. Astralaga said, as concluding remarks. All panelists agreed that this is the only way forward.

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Ms. Margarita Astralaga and H.E. Mr John Kufuor