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Iberdrola

The world's regions have identified 177 climate impacts over the last two years

A Regions4 delegation is present at COP27 in Egypt to raise the voice of the regions to the international community with the aim of gaining a greater voice in decision-making
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COP27 in Egypt hosted the event 'A spotlight on states and regions contributions to the Global Stocktake' - 'getting it done'. It has been organised by Regions 4 and the Under2 Coalition, with the support of the Scottish Government, with the aim of demonstrating the role of sub-national governments and other non-state actors in climate processes and driving progress on climate change mitigation and adaptation. 

Regions4 is actively participating in COP27 in Sharm El Sheik with a delegation of some thirty member regions from around the world. There, they seek to call on key political leaders to recognise the key role of sub-national governments in responding to the climate and biodiversity crisis, and the need for urgent action to mitigate and adapt to climate change, as well as to ensure the conservation of nature and ecosystems. Adaptation and resilience are two of the main themes of this COP: while COP26 focused largely on actions concerning climate change mitigation and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, this year one of the main priorities will be to boost global adaptation efforts, which puts the focus on increasing resilience as a response to climate challenges. 

One of the highlights of the event was the presentation of the RegionsAdapt 2021-2022 Progress Report. RegionsAdapt is the first global initiative for regional governments to plan, take concrete actions, cooperate and report on their progress in terms of climate change adaptation. Led by the governments of Rio de Janeiro and Catalonia, it was launched in 2015 at COP21 in Paris and currently involves more than 70 regions from five continents and impacts around 300 million people. 

This campaign facilitates access to the latest innovations, tools and best practices that are developed and implemented at regional level on climate change, with a focus on adaptation. In this way, through knowledge sharing, lessons learned and capacity building, it catalyses climate action, drives cooperation between regions and supports sub-national governments to improve their resilience. RegionsAdapt is, since last year, an official partner of the global Race to Resilience campaign, promoted by the UN, which aims to make 4 billion people in groups and communities vulnerable to climate risks more resilient. 

This report provides a comprehensive view of the climate change risks faced by RegionsAdapt members, helps measure their progress and supports learning on adaptation so that these tools can be used and replicated in other territories. In addition, the annual reporting of their progress strengthens transparency and accountability, enabling RegionsAdapt to assess the evolution of global progress on adaptation and to provide information to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and in particular to the Global Stocktake next year. This is an assessment process of the implementation of the Paris Agreement, which aims to measure collective progress towards its long-term goals. 

322 climate change adaptation actions 

This report captures the progress that 32 regions from 16 countries have reported through the Carbon Disclosure Project's (CDP) States and Regions Questionnaire. In the last two years, according to the report, 177 climate change impacts have been reported. The five most frequently mentioned were:  

  • Drought and water stress 
  • Heat stress and extreme heat 
  • Severe rainfall and flooding 
  • Sea level rise and coastal flooding 
  • Coastal erosion 

In fact, the World Health Organisation put the number of heat-related deaths in Europe alone at 15,000 in 2022. Heat stress has thus become the leading cause of climate-related death on the continent after the hottest summer on record. 

Of the effects that climate change is already having across the globe, according to the report, participating regions have identified some associated socio-economic risks: health-related risks, economic losses from natural disasters, increased population at risk, increased demand for public services and increased risk to infrastructure.  

However, regions are already taking action to address this situation through adaptation measures. In the period 2021-2022, 72% of RegionsAdapt regions have an adaptation plan in place, 19% are in progress and 9% have one yet to be developed. In total, 71% of regions have at least one adaptation objective; and 31% have quantifiable targets or a monitoring framework. 

Among the concrete actions implemented at regional level on adaptation, a total of 322 have been counted in this period (222 in 2021 and 100 in 2022). The five most implemented comprise different typologies: 

  • 30% are related to climate risk governance and capacity building. 
  • 18% are climate-proofing infrastructure and services. 
  • 15% are risk assessment and monitoring. 
  • Another 15% are oriented towards sharing knowledge and good practices. 
  • 11% focus on nature-based solutions. 

The report, drawn from responses from 32 regions in 16 countries, represents a total of 253 million people and covers 5.3 million km² of the earth's surface.

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Regions in action 

The RegionsAdapt 2021-2022 Progress Report also lists some of the outstanding regional actions being implemented around the world. These include an analysis of the risk of sea level rise in the Basque Country. More than 65% of the Basque population lives in coastal areas, so adaptation to climate change in these areas is one of the priorities of the LIFE Urban Klima 2050 project. Video surveillance and weather forecasting systems have been implemented in urban areas to prevent risks in coastal areas and integrate the new information into risk prevention plans. This initiative includes a pilot project in Zarautz, focusing on its promenade, with the idea of reducing the impacts of the combined effect of waves and tides. In 2021, a "Study of alternatives for action in rigid environments on Zarautz beach" was carried out, and a second initiative is underway to analyse the impact of climate change on energy infrastructures. 

Another European project is taking place in Navarra: LIFE-IP NAdapta-CC, which promotes resilience to climate change in the region and identifies the vulnerability of the territory through the creation of a scorecard of indicators to monitor the effects of climate change. 

Innovative financing mechanisms put in place in Quebec, Catalonia and Lombardy to allow regions to create their own resources are also included. For example, the Catalan climate fund for mitigation and adaptation policies is financed through different taxes, such as the tax on CO2 emissions from cars, motorbikes and commercial vans, which raises around 150 million euros a year (estimated in 2022). 150 million per year (estimated 2022). 50% is earmarked for climate policies and 50% for the biodiversity fund. In addition, other taxes are used, such as those levied on economic activities outside the emission allowance market and the port emissions tax on large ships.   

Horizontal governance encourages learning between departments or institutions in the same region, as well as between sub-regional governments. The Pyrenees is a mountain bioregion particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, with a major impact on biophysical and socio-economic systems such as flora, fauna, water resources, energy, tourism as well as agriculture and pastoralism. The Pyrenean Climate Change Strategy (EPiCC) is another action mentioned in the RegionsAdapt 2021-2022 Progress Report, which provides a framework that complements the existing strategies of the eight Pyrenean territories (Andorra, Nouvelle Aquitaine, Aragon, Catalonia, La Rioja, Basque Country, Navarre and Occitania), taking into account two differentiating factors: the cross-border approach and the specificity of the mountains. It was developed between June 2020 and September 2021 thanks to an inclusive and participatory process with the collaboration and input of hundreds of representatives from the scientific, political and socio-economic spheres.  

In parallel, the Interreg POCTEFA Adapyr project (2020-2022) focuses on data observation, capitalisation of available information and knowledge transfer in the context of cross-border cooperation, while the LIFE MIDMACC project promotes adaptation through the implementation of landscape management measures to address climate change-related challenges in marginal mid-mountain areas of Spain (La Rioja, Aragon and Catalonia).

The Declaration of the regional governments

That multi-level action is essential to curb climate change is a reality. And the regions know it: according to the European Committee of the Regions, sub-national governments lead up to 75% of mitigation measures and up to 90% of adaptation measures to climate change. That is why, through the Regions4 network, they are present at COP27 to, among other things, raise the voice of the regions and ask for more funding and participation in decision-making. Their voice is reflected in the "Declaration of regional governments for COP27", which they also presented today in Egypt. 

The regions and entities that have signed the Declaration are Jalisco, Guanajuato, Baja California del Sur, Campeche (Mexico), Navarra, Euskadi, La Rioja, Catalonia (Spain), Lombardy (Italy), Flanders (Belgium) Cross River State (Nigeria), Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, Parana (Brazil), Pastaza, Morona-Santiago (Ecuador), Nariño (Colombia), Tucumán, Tierra del Fuego, Antarctica and South Atlantic Islands (Argentina), Gossas, Louga, Dagana (Senegal), La Réunion, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (France), Rabat-Salé-Kénitra, Fez-Mequinez (Morocco), Council of Governors (Kenya), Nawa, Grands-Ponts, San-Pédro (Ivory Coast), Quebec (Canada) and Hauts-Bassins (Burkina Faso). The document is also supported by the Assembly of European Regions (AER), Cities and Regions in the UNFCCC Climate Process (LGMA), Under2, Association Internationale des Règions Francophones (AIRF), Race to Resilience, the European Committee of the Regions, United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), Global Taskforce, ORU-Fogar, Zona de Integración del Centro Oeste de América del Sur (ZICOSUR) and the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR). 

"We, sub-national governments, recognise our key role in responding to the climate crisis, the loss of biodiversity, the need for urgent action on climate change mitigation and adaptation, conservation and restoration of nature and ecosystem services towards a more sustainable, equitable and healthy world for all people. Our proximity to our citizens puts us in a unique position to understand the social and economic demands that are part of the current transition towards better development models," say the signatory regions, more than forty of them from all over the world. 

In addition to claiming the importance of their role, the regions also make a number of demands on world leaders through this declaration. One of them is that "Parties should promote the inclusion of subnational governments in decision-making processes, implementation and monitoring, being considered as key governmental actors with specific, reliable and ambitious long-term objectives". They also mention "making a significant contribution to scaling up adaptation efforts through nature-based solutions" or "including regional governments in actions around the Global Adaptation Goal". 

Furthermore, the signatory regions have committed to issues such as "expressing and sharing our perspectives and experiences to ensure that governments at all levels are recognised as key drivers for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement targets and ensuring biodiversity conservation and restoration"; including to "accelerate our actions and localisation of global targets by leveraging innovative solutions, including actions that integrate ecosystem approaches at all levels of government to simultaneously enhance biodiversity conservation and promote climate change adaptation and mitigation". 

The full document is available here.