The EU has taken a leadership role by adopting far-reaching measures to achieve the long-term goal of limiting global temperature rise to 2°C. It is also the biggest provider of aid to support developing countries addressing climate change. The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Development and Cooperation – EuropeAid is also actively involved in the international negotiations process under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The EU supports partner countries in different areas related to climate change by providing dedicated climate change assistance as well as by integrating climate change considerations into the broader development cooperation portfolio in accordance with partner country policies and strategies. Several financial instruments and aid delivery channels are used for this purpose. They include a number of new facilities and mechanisms designed to leverage additional funds to complement official development aid. An overview of EU climate action in developing countries can be found in the brochure ‘Supporting a climate for change’.
A global alliance
The Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA) was launched in 2007 to strengthen dialogue and cooperation on climate change between the European Union and the developing countries most vulnerable to climate change, in particular least developed countries and small island developing states. It provides technical and financial support to partner countries in five priority areas:
Adaptation, mitigation and win-win actions
In complement to the GCCA, the EU also supports numerous climate initiatives and projects in different context and areas.
As regards adaptation, EU support builds on available vulnerability assessments and on the needs and priorities expressed by developing countries in their national development and adaptation strategies. These strategies include National Adaptation Programs of Action, National Strategies on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and National Action Plans on Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought (DLDD).
The EU is also a strong advocate of the move towards National Adaptation Planning or equivalent strategic processes and documents, as these would be more evolving and integrated strategies. Supported actions include, among others, diversifying livelihoods, improving access to information, enhancing coastal zone management, reducing disaster risks and promoting improved agricultural techniques such as agroforestry as well as soil and water conservation.
The EU supports developing countries' efforts to move towards a low emission developement path, e.g. initiatives for the development and demonstration of low carbon policies in support of Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions and Low-Emission Development Strategies, and helps in technology transfer. In this respect, the EU promotes links to the EU Emissions Trading System by supporting new market mechanisms with the ultimate aim of building an international carbon trading market.
In line with the Agenda for Change priorities, special attention is given to integrating climate concerns into the agriculture and energy sectors. Pilot actions to promote climate-smart and sustainable agriculture are implemented, and work on ways of scaling up validated best practices is already ongoing. As regards energy, the focus is put on renewable energy sources but also on sustainable access to energy sources and on energy efficiency. These actions are contributing both to adaptation and mitigation objectives.
The EU strives to take account of environmental and climate change considerations in all aspects of its cooperation with developing partner countries.
The European Commission's environment integration strategy outlines how the EU can best help developing countries respond to environmental challenges as they work to reduce poverty. In 2009, after consultations with the Member States and Civil Society as well as other organisations, the Commission adopted a staff working document to report on the implementation of the environment integration strategy.
The European Commission is currently working on the follow-up to the Rio+20 Declaration ‘The Future We Want’. This declaration calls on the international community to support developing countries – and in particular the least developed countries – aiming to achieve sustainable development notably through green economy policies. In addition and based on previous work and experience, the Commission intends to further develop the EU approach to the integration of environment, green economy and climate change concerns in development cooperation and its monitoring and reporting frameworks.
The Guidelines on the integration of environment and climate change in development cooperation and the climate change sector scripts offer advice to EU Delegations, partners in developing countries and other interested parties. They focus on ways of addressing environment and climate change considerations in development cooperation from programming to implementation, through a wide range of tools and approaches like environmental and climate screening, country environmental profiles, environmental impact assessments and strategic environmental assessments.
This guidance is backed by intensive training for EU staff and targeted government and civil society partners on topics such as 'Environment and climate change in development cooperation’, ‘Country-led environmental and climate change mainstreaming’ and ‘Introduction to the green economy’. Further information and advice can be found in the Capacity4ev website user group ‘Environment, climate change and green economy’.
The European Commission supports a wide variety of projects contributing to a greener agriculture with sustainable practices and quality products.
The main challenge in this context is to secure and increase agricultural yields while at the same time conserving ecosystems and maintaining resources for those who rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. The key lies in the implementation of sustainable agriculture integrating economic profitability, environment protection and social equity.
The projects funded by the EU promote sustainable agriculture practices, including the efficient use of water, extensive use of organic and natural soil nutrients, optimal cultivation and tillage techniques, integrated pest control, the development of green or ecologically certified products and the promotion of eco-tourism. Greening agriculture in developing countries, and concentrating on smallholders in particular, is the most effective way to improve food security, to increase carbon sequestration and to minimise climate change risks while preserving biodiversity.
Forest ecosystems are a key part of the ecological infrastructure that supports human livelihoods and well-being. More than 350 million people living in poverty depend on forests for some part of their subsistence, and 60 million depend on them entirely. This is notably the case for many indigenous communities.
Forest biodiversity is increasingly threatened as a result of deforestation, forest degradation, fragmentation and other stresses. These pressures affect the unique biodiversity of forests and reduce the resilience of forest ecosystems, making them more vulnerable to changing environmental conditions like climate change.
The EU assists developing countries in their efforts to manage their forest resources sustainably and to address forest governance issues, to combat illegal logging and associated trade, and to design strategies to mitigate climate change. In 2003 the EU launched the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan to address illegal logging and associated trade.
The EU also strongly supports and is actively contributing to negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on actions to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD). These initiatives include provisions to ensure that forests are managed sustainably and that biodiversity is preserved.
Protected areas are the cornerstone of the European Union's global strategy for the protection of nature and wildlife.
Protected areas are important for preserving biological diversity. They are also major economic assets and sources of formal employment in management, tourism and associated private enterprises. These opportunities arise not only inside the protected areas but also in their buffer zones and neighbouring areas.
The 10th Meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP-10) to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya set ambitious new targets to be reached by 2020. These targets call for at least 17% of terrestrial and inland water and 10% of coastal and marine areas to be protected.
However, governments often only have limited capacities to establish, finance and manage protected areas. The European Commission has therefore been funding a wide variety of actions for many years.
These initiatives are designed to support the development and sustainable management of protected areas and their neighbouring landscapes, including buffer zones and biological corridors, the construction of access roads, ecotourism lodges, park headquarters, training for managers, and research and scientific monitoring. The central strategy is always to ensure that local populations are involved in the management of resources and receive benefits from them inside and outside the protected areas.