“Mitigation and Adaptation Policies Without Money Are Just a Conversation” States Executive Vice-President of the National Climate Change and Clean Development Mechanism Council at GFDD Event

June 13, 2016

GFDD/Funglode organized and moderated a panel discussion at the 2016 United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA USA) Leadership Council today, in its capacity as the Chair of the UNA USA Council of Organizations (UNA USA COO) Environmental Subcommittee. The event, entitled Beyond the Road to Paris-Action for Climate Change, was a seminar and panel discussion on climate change led by Marc Jourdan of the Global
Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD). With the participation of international science and policy experts, it sought to inform UNA USA chapter members about the regional impacts of climate change, both in the US and the Dominican Republic, and the efforts made in Paris by the international community to help tackle this global issue.

The panelists included Omar
Executive Vice-President of the National Climate Change and Clean Development Mechanism Council of the Dominican Republic (or CNCCMDL by its Spanish acronym), Rubén Torres, Founder and President of ReefCheck DR, and Norine Kennedy, Vice President, Strategic International Engagement, Energy and Environment, United States Council for International Business. The moderator for the session was Marc Jourdan, GFDD UN
Program Manager and Executive Committee Member of the NGO Committee for Financing for Development.

Before a packed conference room, Jourdan welcomed the attendees and introduced the speakers, stressing the diversity of the panel and the opportunity for a meaningful discussion on the regional impacts of climate change. He explained the need to debate what type of action needs to be taken to implement a bold yet global solution on the issue of climate change.

As lead climate negotiator for the Dominican Republic, Omar Ramírez provided a presentation on the impact of the recently adopted Paris Climate Agreement. He looked particularly at the impact for Small Island Developing States like the Dominican Republic, while highlighting national and regional policy efforts of the country. Ramirez explained to the guests that the Dominican Republic is today ranked the
“8th most affected country by extreme weather conditions”, before stressing that “climate change is now inside the nation”. Turning to the commitments made at the national level to tackle this issue, he pointed out that the country was one of three other countries “that mentions climate change in its Constitution”. Given the country’s commitment to “reduce 25% of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2020”
he told the audience that education would be the “main tool to make people aware of climate change”. Furthermore, he warned of substantial financial needs to help implement these bold targets stressing that “Mitigation and adaptation policies without money are just a conversation”.

Next, in his capacity as an expert biologist on coral reefs, Rubén Torres provided a presentation that sought to assess the threat that climate change
presents to the coral reefs of the Dominican Republic, one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. Torres remarked that today “reefs are heavily degraded” explaining that coral reefs affected by climate change look like “cleared forests with an ecosystem dominated by algae”, before highlighting that they will “be gone in 30 to 50 years”. Despite these warnings he noted that “local management actions are making reefs
healthier in some areas”.

As an experienced environment and climate change expert, Norine Kennedy spoke to the audience about US climate mitigation and adaptation efforts to help address climate change and the work that her organization has been undertaking on behalf the US business sector to support international policy efforts to help address this global issue. Commenting on the role of business in climate policy, Kennedy noted that today “consumers
and investors and communities are looking for business sector to show action”. She explained this desire by telling the participants that “Climate change impacts every society and every commercial transaction”. Concluding her intervention, she told the dynamic audience that the key to holding the private sector and government to their climate commitments would be monitoring, reporting and verification. She explained that “pledges have to be tacked and
continually approved, not static”, and hoped that they “would become more and more ambitious with time”.

Jourdan then opened up the discussion for an engaged question and answer session with the audience members who challenged the speakers on a variety of topics. This included questions ranging from methods to improve the accountability of private sector organizations for their impact on climate change to the role of education in guiding
solutions to the climate problem.

About the UNA USA COO Environmental Subcommittee
The environmental subcommittee is a group which aims to “Support and Promote a Sustainable Environmental Ecosystem”. It is constituted of UNA USA members, that are NGOs engaged in promoting advancement in relevant elements of the topic area. The sub-committee serves to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United
Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (Agenda 2030), which was adopted in September 2015 and provides the guiding framework for international development over the next 30 years. The sub-committee looks to advance SDGs 9, 11, 12 and 13 which respectively seek to:

  • “Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and foster innovation (SDG9);”
  • “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable(SDG11);”
  • “Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns(SDG12);”
  • “Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts(SDG13).”

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