Takeaways Author: Denia Syam Comments

A few months after COP 21, the Parties gathered in Bonn in what were the first climate talks since Paris. The Bonn climate talks were the place to prove whether we could maintain the spirit of collaboration and compromise, which successfully laid an essential foundation for the complex yet delicately crafted balance of the historical landmark that the Paris Agreement represented. The political momentum for the ambitious climate action remains high following the Agreement’s signing by 175 countries during the high-level ceremony in April—which was considered to be a record-breaker—and (until the time this article was written) 17 countries had deposited their instrument of ratification. This applies additional pressure for the Parties to maintain the spirit and principle by rapidly starting the technical work with a view to operationalizing the Agreement once it come into a force. 

In order to initiate its mandate, the Bonn climate task started, not only by launching the work under APA (Ad-Hoc Working Group of the Paris Agreement) which was established in Paris, but also by unpacking the Paris outcome (the Agreement and its corresponding decisions as well as the COP 21 decisions), through identifying gaps, overlaps and seeking potential synergies among its mandates. For those who were not in the negotiation room, the APA needing four days ‘just to negotiate its agenda’ may seem trivial, yet it was a crucial step in framing the issues to be negotiated in the forthcoming months and ensuring that we will proceed with the Agreement in a balanced manner. 

On the issue of Adaptation and Loss and Damage, some important technical aspects were advanced that will support their contribution to implementing the agreement. This included agreeing on the Terms of Reference for the third review of Adaptation Fund, the draft decision for National Adaptation Plans, which highlighted the needs and gaps in its support and NAPs as a means of reporting context, and the draft decision for the Nairobi Work Program on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change (NWP).

Nonetheless, even though the Parties agreed that the Bonn session would focus on technical discussions, we then came to understand that, for some ‘technical issues’ under the different bodies, even the agenda has significant embedded political content in it, including for the issue of Adaptation and Loss and Damage. Under the APA, we welcome the agreement regarding proposed agenda item 4 as a starting point for us to start our work on adaptation, particularly on adaptation communication. The informal consultation under the APA provided an opportunity to build an initial understanding on this issue among the Parties. For Indonesia, adaptation communication is an important instrument to get recognition of our adaptation effort as a contribution to climate action. It is also a means to assist developing country Parties with the enhancement of their adaptation contribution, with embedded flexibility, by being country-driven, and by having no punitive nature, thus without imposing an additional, undue burden.

Another politically contentious issue is the public registry under the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI). The Parties were unable to make progress on the modalities and procedures for one or two public registry/ies of the Parties’NDCs and adaptation communication. The Parties understand that it has significant political implications as it will reflect the longstanding interests of developing country Parties in having the equal footing for adaptation and mitigation. We see the public registry for adaptation communication as an important mechanism for the international community to give recognition to the adaptation efforts by developing country Parties. Reflecting on the discussion in Bonn, it can be seen that the Parties need to develop further understanding regarding this issue and its context, with no pre-judgement on its process and results.

There was no specific agenda on Loss and Damage being addressed during the Bonn session, yet as a middle way in responding to some Parties’ proposal (AOSIS), the incoming COP Presidency held a Special Event on the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage (WIM) review. It is a Paris mandate to start the review by 2016 and Indonesia believes (as a part of the G77+China) that the review process should start as soon as possible, with a view to seeing the effectiveness of the implementation of the WIM two year workplan in terms of its gaps and needs, as well as the potential extension of its mandate, in the context of the Article 8 (Loss and Damage) of the Paris Agreement. The Parties need to start to engage in discussion about the WIM Review ToR and guidance in Marrakech. 

As a way forward, it should be in our interest to make sure that we proceed and make progress in all elements of the Paris Agreement, including Adaptation and Loss and Damage, and its cross-cutting relevance, in a balanced manner. Lots of work still awaits us ahead. We should not expect that the Paris Agreement can deliver the solution on its own. What it has to do is deliver a solid foundation upon which the solution can be built. What matters now is the operationalization of the Agreement fueled by political will. This should not stop at the global arena; the translation of this will should lead to concrete action on the ground, which mostly lies under the responsibility and authority of national and sub-national actors, with the support of the international community.  

ACCCRN’s work in Indonesia and the Asia region is critically relevant to pursuing this task as we do not stop at city-scale; we also try to scale-up the evidence and lessons obtained from the work done in cities to influence the national policy agenda and beyond. Actors from all political levels need to optimize the traction of political momentum that the Paris Agreement has created. Non-state actors, cities, and provinces can, and must, play an important role in leveraging climate action through the multi-level governance system. Considering its critical role, Mercy Corps (Indonesia), shall maintain and further strengthen our engagement in this process. We should carry out our involvement in the process in a spirit that manifests the message from our beloved former Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, Madam Christiana Figueres: “We are here, not for those who ratified, BUT for those that will benefit from the Agreement” as we all stand with the vulnerable communities. It is our in our interest to make sure that the climate resilience world, as one of the Paris Agreement objectives, will be achieved within our generation.


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