Climate Justice & Sustainability

UNFCCC Climate Change Negotiations, Qatar: Making Adaptation Work for Young People

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As the first week of the COP 18/CMP 8 talks in Doha came to an end, parties were still struggling to come up with new agreements that were going to improve on ways to deal with climate change.Reuben Makomere looks at what progress could be made. “For adaptation to really work for our generation, there needs to be money, an adequate framework for ‘loss and damage’ and the inclusion of young people in the design and implementation of NAPAs.”

As the first week of the COP 18/CMP 8 talks in Doha came to an end, parties were still struggling to come up with new agreements that were going to improve on ways to deal with climate change.

Adaptation Mechanisms have been crucial in trying to equip countries, particularly the least developed nations around the world, to fight the impacts of climate change already being felt. One such mechanism under the UNFCCC are National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs). According to the UNFCCC’s website, NAPAs “provide a process for least developed countries (LDCs) to identify priority activities that respond to their urgent and immediate needs to adapt to climate change - those for which further delay would increase vulnerability and/or costs at a later stage.[1]

Young people map out the impacts of climate change already happening around the world. Credit:

But as the generations who will be most affected by climate change, where do the youth of today - and of tomorrow - come into this process? For adaptation to really work for young people, three measures need to be put in place:


The issue of financing is crucial and has to be sorted out. Adaptation financing is in trouble. Up to last year, only 14% of money delivered under climate change pledges had gone to adaptation activities, despite a commitment to a 50/50 split under Copenhagen Accord. Even worse, that’s 14% of the money delivered; that’s not the same as money promised. Pledges from the Copenhagen Accord to fast start financing totalled about $30bn, to be delivered by the end of this year. But as of September 2011, only $11.3bn had been delivered. [2]

Activists at COP18 call on countries to commit and deliver climate finance. Credit: Nathalia Clark/Adopt A Negotiator

Here at COP18, talks of finance have ground to a halt as countries won’t budge on pledges. Without money, adaptation programmes like NAPAs can’t work. More funding from parties is crucial to enhancing the running of the programs at all levels.

A new mechanism for ‘loss and damage’

This week more than 40 NGOs signed an open letter to ministers at COP18, calling on them to create “a new framework under the UNFCCC to address loss and damage. This requires new approaches on finance, compensation and rehabilitation. It also requires consideration of non-economic losses including loss of culture, ecosystems, indigenous knowledge and territory that will result from climate change. The adverse effects from slow-onset disasters such as sea level rise or changes in rainfall patterns that lead to migration, displacement and relocation also need urgent attention.” Action needs to be taken now to ensure compensation (both financial and non-financial) can be achieved in the wake of the full array of natural disasters countries are facing around the world.

Inclusion of young people in design and implementation

Outside of the negotiations here in Doha, measures also need to be taken to ensure adaptation works for young people. The youth have their right to participate in these mechanisms provided for by Article 6 of the convention. Essentially the youth have a stake in the whole process. Participation in the programs involves all levels, through consultation and implementation. Decision making and implementation has to be all inclusive. Take for instance the NAPA pans for Tuvalu make specific reference to the youth in its Community Participatory Approach mechanism[3]. In Kiribati, NAPA recognizes the need for enhanced community participation including the youth[4]. The youth also are a key component in Uganda’s adaptation plan[5] too. These examples have to be replicated and strengthened at all levels of the Adaptation mechanism

The nature of involvement has to reflect a people centred process to maximize the outcome. As Dana from Mexico aptly put it

“failure to include the youth could easily result in adaptation mechanisms being counter-productive”.


[2] Cuming, Victoria (2011) Have developed nations broken their promise on $30bn ‘fast-start’ finance? Bloomberg New Energy Finance 2011