Climate Change

COP27: Here’s how the Global Goal on Adaptation framework was negotiated at Sharm El-Sheikh

Framework will be considered and adopted at the COP28 in 2023; will review progress of achieving GGA

By Akshit Sangomla
Published: Monday 21 November 2022

Countries at the 27th Conference of Parties (COP27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at Sharm El-Sheikh finally decided on the establishment of a framework for achieving the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA). They plan on achieving this through the remaining workshops on the Glasgow Sharm El-Sheikh Work Programme (GlaSS) on GGA that will be conducted in 2023. 

The framework will be considered and adopted at the COP28 in 2023. It will also review the progress of achieving GGA and feed this information into the global stock-taking process that is going to end next year. 

“We made progress on GGA and established a framework to guide the achievement of the goal as well as the review of overall progress in achieving it and enhancing adaptation action and support,” Collins Nzovu, Zambia’s minister of green economy and environment, representing the African Group of Negotiators (AGN), said at the closing plenary of COP27 on November 20, 2022. He added: 

We agreed on a process to track the doubling of adaptation finance. We call for enhanced support for adaptation action in developing countries, including through the Adaptation Fund.

Both the establishment of a framework for achieving GGA and matters related to adaptation finance were issues of concern for the AGN bloc which represents all the 54 African countries at UNFCCC conferences. 

These decisions on GGA did not come easy and were achieved after negotiations began on a slow note in the first week, even though adaptation was one of the focus areas for COP27 presidency with many events themed around it. 

Read more: COP27: African bloc unhappy; says agreement on framework for adaptation goal being delayed

On November 8, the presidency launched the Sharm El-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda through which it planned to mobilise $140-300 billion in adaptation funding from both public and private sources. 

On November 9, Yasmine Fouad, Egypt’s environment minister, led a side event on adaptation. She called for a global target on adaptation similar to the 1.5 degrees Celsius temperature target. She also highlighted the importance of adaptation finance which was required for planning and implementing the national adaptation plans. 

There were many UNFCCC-related funds and organisations such as the Adaptation Fund and Global Centre for Adaptation (GCA) as well as multilateral development and private firms such as the Boston Consulting Group at the event who highlighted the need for public and private finance for adaptation. 

Throughout COP27, the presidency, developed countries such as the United States and the European Union and many multilateral development banks kept pushing for mobilising private finance for adaptation, while the countries in need of this finance kept highlighting the issues with private finance such as increasing debt burden. 

Feike Sijbesma, the GCA co-chair, pointed out that the private sector does not understand even the difference between mitigation and adaptation, and hence it is difficult for funds to approach banks and vice versa. 

The text on GGA went through many tricky iterations. The fourth workshop under GlaSS concluded on November 10 without consensus on a GGA target. There were calls by various parties, especially the AGN group for the involvement of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UNFCCC’s scientific body, to help them understand GGA in a better way and define the indicators and metrics that would help achieve and assess it. 

By November 12, the G77-plus-China bloc under the chairperson-ship of Pakistan, which represents 134 developing countries, came up with a proposal for a framework on GGA. It called for a structured approach in achieving GGA based on the adaptation cycle that also made it to the final text of the GGA decision. 

Many countries had concerns regarding the proposal but many also supported it. 

Read more: COP27 will fail because of the US, EU and Global North, not the developing world

There was more clarity on November 14 when a new draft text based on the G77 proposal came out. This text had three options in it. The first option in the draft text talked about a framework of GGA with key elements like the sectors that need to be looked at, cross-cutting issues and principles such as ecosystem-based services approach at the local, national and transboundary levels as well as climate impact vulnerability assessments.

The text also talked about the complex issue of intergenerational equity. Among the sectors were coastal ecosystems, cities, ocean ecosystems and others. This option also talked about global targets such as all countries should submit their national adaptation plans by 2025, 50 per cent of the world population would be climate resilient by 2030 and that would become 100 per cent by 2050. 

The second option was not having a framework at all. The Group of 77 and China negotiating bloc said that it is too early to set such global targets and wanted to focus on the framework and key elements. 

In the third option, IPCC would be asked to develop global indicators based on science and how these indicators would feed into the GGA. Some developed countries did not want to see this reference to the IPCC.

Finally on November 17, the draft text that would more or less make the final decision text was released. In this text, the initiation of the development of a framework for GGA was mentioned. A structured approach towards achievement of GGA and its review were also mentioned in the text. The framework was to be considered and adopted in 2023. 

In a subsequent text released November 19, the structured approach was further detailed with a categorisation into dimensions such as impacts and vulnerability assessments; themes such as water and cities; cross-cutting considerations such as country driven and gender responsiveness; science based indicators and metrics and various sources of information. 

In the final version of the text that was adopted, there were some changes made to the structured approach such as under dimensions language on support in terms of finance, capacity building and technology transfer was introduced. This is the only mention of adaptation finance in the text.

Themes like tangible cultural heritage, mountain regions and biodiversity were added and the scope of the cross-cutting considerations was widened.

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