The 100-day dash for climate action

By Magdy Martínez-Solimán 21 August 2015

A man holds a banner urging climate action at a march attended by over 30,000 people on Sept. 21, 2014, in Melbourne, Australia. What is the U.N. Development Program doing to ensure that an ambitious agreement will be reached during the U.N. climate conference to be held in December in Paris? Photo by: Neah Monteiro / CC BY-NC

Aug. 22 marks 100 days until the U.N. climate conference in Paris, France. Countries have made commitments, which give hope that an ambitious agreement may be possible.

What makes an agreement ambitious? Above all, a push on all sectors and stakeholders so that development is climate-conscious and risk-informed. Development practitioners and climate experts need to work together.

During the next 100 days, the U.N. Development Program will do its part: Drawing on our climate change portfolio, which supports 140 countries, we will strive to share the lessons we have learned. From our collaboration in Latin America to expand wind energy, to our work on small-scale agricultural adaptation in Africa and Asia, we have gleaned best practices that showcase the tools and resources available to tackle climate change and sustain development. The ingredients are all there, the challenge now is to use Paris as a springboard to scale up those best practices and to seize the post-2015 opportunity.

What happens in Paris will have significant implications for the way development work is done. Member states will begin implementing the new global agreements related to climate change and sustainable development. The commitments that countries will make in New York in September and in Paris in December will define the new road to development and de-carbonization of the economy.

Right now countries are assessing how and where they can cut carbon emissions, and how their national development plans can be tailored to facilitate this. Through “intended nationally determined contributions,” targets and actions are being declared. It is in meeting and achieving these INDCs that past successes will be ramped up and that new, innovative modalities will be employed. UNDP is supporting the development of ambitious, actionable, contextually appropriate INDCs that are in line with national development priorities.

The implications of a successful Paris agreement will have implications for climate and development finance, increasingly intertwined as the years go by and climate awareness grows. New measures will be put in place to track progress of financial commitments, while dedicated monitoring and evaluation systems and new funding mechanisms will materialize to strengthen the global climate architecture.

These changes are already happening. The Green Climate Fund stands to be the single-largest funding platform devoted to tackling climate change, and it will undoubtedly play a massive role in resourcing the work of governments and agencies on the ground. UNDP is pleased to be one of the first U.N. agencies accredited by the GCF. This will enable our partners to access climate finance to move past the climate deal and into the era of implementation.

While we might be sprinting toward Paris, COP21 is actually less a destination than a step in the marathon to strengthen climate action and sustain development. The agreement in Paris, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for development, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the sustainable development goals — each is one piece of a larger effort where climate action is at the heart of sustainable development.

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About the author

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Magdy Martínez-Solimán

Magdy Martínez-Solimán is assistant secretary-general of the U.N. and assistant administrator of the U.N. Development Program, where he leads the Bureau for Policy and Program Support. He was U.N. resident coordinator in Mexico, executive director of the U.N. Democracy Fund and UNDP’s global governance practice manager. He has been working for the United Nations for 18 years in Senegal, Bangladesh, Burundi and Togo, and has previously held senior responsibilities in the Spanish government. He is a lawyer by training.


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