Seminar for Capacity Development for Transparency to Implement the Paris Agreement
Organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan Summary
The Seminar for Capacity Development for Transparency to Implement the Paris Agreement was held in Bandung, Indonesia, with 37 people participating from six countries and one international organization, in response to the adoption of the Paris Agreement at the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 21) convened in 2015. The purpose of the seminar was primarily twofold.
First, the seminar sought to identify issues facing developing countries and specify measures necessary in transforming the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to NDCs, which will be indispensable for developing countries in taking actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Second, the seminar aimed to discuss support that developed nations and international organizations are able to provide. The participants discussed what the necessary capacity building should look like in order for developing countries to fulfill the obligations they have newly taken on under the Paris Agreement.
The following are some of the key points that emerged from the discussion.
In a significant number of cases, approaches premised on the technological and social systems that have existed until now are not applicable to transitioning to a low carbon society or to low-carbon development, aiming towards zero emissions. Under this new set of circumstances, movement from the bottom up that sparks new suggestions or actions by individuals or groups in a region or having particular conditions becomes a force triggering major changes. Developed countries will need to engage in capacity building for low-carbon development with the posture of eliciting spontaneous growth in developing countries through activities undertaken jointly with them, rather than through a diagram of unilateral knowledge and technology transfer received from the developed countries.
As for what capacity building for low-carbon development should entail under the Paris Agreement, first, the foundations of scientific knowledge for each country to move towards a low-carbon society under its own volition (information and data as well as techniques, and also communities of experts), human resource foundations (human resources within stakeholders ranging from governments to civil society), and institutional foundations (departments responsible for policy and organizations and systems for capacity development) all need to be strengthened in order to maximize the prospects for capacity building. Alongside emissions reductions efforts, policymakers in each country need to create systems and structures that establish scientific techniques for developing necessary response measures, encourage various stakeholders to transition into action, and make it possible for such action to move forward in an effective manner. Policymakers must also work in cooperation with other stakeholders to formulate strategies for allocating funds and developing these efforts over time.
Second, developed and developing countries must reinforce their cooperation so that developing nations are able to make steady progress in carrying out and strengthening their NDCs, because there still exists a large gap between the action plans formulated to execute NDCs and their implementation. For example, it is important for developed countries to provide information networks and communication tools that are effective in sharing knowledge and experience, including knowledge and experience on technological and institutional reform, so that developing countries can have access to finance from various developed countries and development banks and so that they can enjoy advanced technologies as well as opportunities for development. Developed countries also address a crucial need by providing such things as high-level science education, international science programs, and cooperation in R&D.
Third, the recipients of capacity development must be expanded. For example, the accurate identification of emissions amounts forms a vital policy foundation for strengthening and quantitatively evaluating NDCs. However, the extent to which GHG emissions/removals inventories are necessary goes beyond that. It is becoming indispensable in formulating long-term plans and in evaluation within the process of urban decarbonization, and also vital as a calculation base for setting prices for carbon within industry and business supply chains. For that reason, it is becoming necessary to have reliable data accumulation across a wide range of fields, which do not fit into statistics collected on a national basis only, and also necessary to promote the utilization of such data.
Fourth, the capacity building procedure, including an appropriate follow-up and maintenance process, should keep a five- to ten-year long-term time frame in mind, prioritizing the areas from which the capacity building will progress. The levels at which capacity building is necessary can be broken down into the policy-making level, the infrastructure level, the project level and the civil action level. Considering the degree of urgency, capacity building must move forward from all levels simultaneously, but first of all, moving forward in a top-down manner at the policy-making level. There should be a hastening of support for formulating national plans and for carrying out policies that take as their principal axis NDC policy strengthening, the formulation of long-term strategies, and the enhancement of transparency in policies (including through PDCA and stocktaking responses) as stipulated in the Paris Agreement, and it is also vital to present to other stakeholders the direction in which the country will advance. At the same time, there is a need to avoid becoming locked into transitions to carbon-intensive cities through rapid infrastructure investment as well as a need to support capacity building for swift changes in direction at the local authority level based also on responses to vulnerability assessments and to climate change adaptation. Cities are able to engage in decision making that is independent of central governments, have the potential to bring about low-carbon responses out in the real world, and are characterized by a high degree of actual effectiveness in their low-carbon endeavors. Given the prospects for this kind of long-term direction and policy implementation, private-sector industry, businesses and finance can move forward with peace of mind with projects and investments heading towards a low-carbon future.
Fifth, further practical capacity development should also be examined through cooperation with Japan's partner countries, for example, through its Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM). Through disseminating superior low-carbon technologies, products, systems, services and infrastructure to developing countries, Japan's contributions to the greenhouse gas emissions reductions and absorption are applied to the achievement of its reduction target. Also effective is Japan's individualized practical capacity building in developing countries, undertaken through various stages of this JCM. Likewise, important lessons and valuable infrastructure, including for the monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of climate actions, are available through the UN's Clean Development Mechanism.
Sixth, capacity building should break free at an early time from the traditional model of "knowledge transfer, training, technology transfer, funding provision." The new model supporting developing countries' self-reliance and "leapfrog" development should be put forward with cooperation between developed and developing countries. Japan has moved forward with this form of support towards Asia, and as a result Asia's own climate response capacity has already risen to quite a high level. In the future, it will be important to promote support that facilitates such "leapfrog" development not only in Asia, but also around the world,
Finally, within each country, the knowledge base and the community of researchers and experts that will play a role in capacity building must both be firmly in place. The creation of a low-carbon society involves deciding the development path that each country will follow, and therefore each country should strengthen its own knowledge base regarding its shift to a low-carbon future and have ownership as it moves forward in formulating policies. It will be essential for such knowledge communities to take the lead and provide support, creating structures that enable low-carbon development capacity building undertaken by each country itself.