Sprint / International negotiations on climate change adaptation

Dear all, here is a short outline on the preparation of the Paris Sprint.

  • Dates & Venue

Jan 6th to 10th, at Sciences Po, Paris. We have pre-booked rooms in a nearby hotel.

  • Programme

Under deverlopment.

The first morning will be dedicated to presentations by alpha-users. Then, we will form interdisciplinary teams of 5/6 people constituted of EMAPS members + friends.

  • Topic

Adaptation is a latecomer on the scene of climate negotiations and is, to a large extent, unfit to such arena. Rooted in the tradition of United Nations diplomacy, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was originally instituted to address the eminently global challenge of greenhouse gases reduction through mitigation.

Local in its actions and effects, adaptation definitely entered the UNFCCC arena in 2000, when the inevitability of climate change impacts became evident and with it the need of developing countries to find international support for adaptation policies. In this framework, adaptation has largely become a question of financial flows.

Since mid-2000, however, the place of adaptation in the international negotiations has grown incessantly and actors have been struggling to put new issues on the negotiation agenda. The traditional boundaries of the UNFCCC are thus under pressure.

The controversies relating to the international negotiations on climate change adaptation tend to fall into two categories:

1. The controversies that take place within the UNFCCC itself and concern the rationales governing the transactions of adaptation money and the arguments and issues mobilized to support them:

a. What is adaptation money? A help from rich to poor countries to prepare for future climate change impacts (according to the development paradigm) VS a compensation from polluting to polluted countries to repair the current climate impacts (according to the “loss and damage” paradigm) VS a contribution to anticipate current extreme events (according to “disaster risk reduction” paradigm) ?
b. How should adaptation money be transferred? Which countries and institutions should govern the ‘adaptation funds’? How should the use of the money be monitored and accounted for? Which type of institutions should this funds be and how they should be organized?
c. Which objectives should drive financial aid for adaptation? decrease vulnerability to climate impacts (e.g. sea level, extreme events, droughts, environmental migrations, etc.)? increase adaptive capacity (e.g. poverty reduction, water security, food security, land use change, economic compensation, security, etc.)?
d. For all the previous questions, we can also ask who defended which position and when a given position or controversy was more discussed.

2. The controversies that take place outside the UNFCCC, or on the sideline of it, and concern the representativeness and the weight of the Convention’s negotiations in the larger debate on adaptation.

a. To what extent an essentially local problem such as adaptation can be managed effectively through an international forum?
b. When and to what extent issues discussed outside the UNFCCC in relation to adaptation have (or have not) become the subject of international negotiations?
c. Are the discourses of the actors in the negotiation coherent with their discourses and actions outside the UNFCCC?
d. How do non-national actors (NGOs, industrial lobbies) engage in and influence the negotiations ?

  •  Datasets

ENB reports
Climate Funds Update
Web corpus
Scientific literature
IPCC reports
UNFCCC documents (included COP country submissions, side events and SBSTA reports)
(if we have time) adaptation projects from different project collections
(The NY Times articles)

  • Alpha-users

We have contacted experts potentially interested in co-producing the maps with us, whom we adress as “alpha-users”. We want 5/6 of them. The contacted persons might of course redirect us to other experts. We will discuss the content of their presentation beforehand.
We are in discussion with Neil Adger & Richard Klein (academics), Alix Mazounie (NGO), Troels Dam Christensen (NGO/negotiator), the Green Climate Fund…
  • Other participants

EMAPS members : I already got some answers. Here is the form which you are invited to fill in to confirm your participation ASAP (and before the end of the week) :


EMAPS members are encouraged to stay the whole duration of the Sprint.

Advisors : we have sent an invitation to Pelle Ehn and David Chavalarias.

Students : we plan to have 3 Density Design former students.

Issue experts : we want to have experts of the climate controversy (apart from Mark who will be there as well) like Amy Dahan & Christophe Buffet (Centre Alexandre Koyré), Clive Hamilton, Alice Caravani of Climate Funds Update (Overseas Development Institute). François Gemenne will moderate the presentations by alpha-users on the first morning.

  • Expenses

All expenses including transportation will be borne by Sciences Po. We will book hotel rooms, but we ask EMAPS participants to take care of their own travel, which will be reimbursed after the sprint.


2 Responses to “Sprint / International negotiations on climate change adaptation”

  1. Dear Axel,
    Dear Tommaso,

    Thank you for planning the first sprint so far and for collecting topics and questions. It really seems to become an exciting discussion and work. Two comments:

    1. Controversial questions

    When I read the section about “Controversies that take place within the UNFCCC” it just came to my mind that there is another level or sphere of controversial questions around climate change adaptation that should be placed before all the other questions. It is the question of climate change vulnerability, the basis to decide if a country, a region, a sector should be funded or not. What are the appropriate categories, the relevant indicators to assess this? General indicators (like the 10 poorest countries) or specific indicators that are fed into complex models? When is a country or region or society vulnerable? Are there any (normative) thresholds? Who decides and how is the decision process in this respect?

    And then, there are other controversial discussions that are grouped around the question of what should be considered to be an adaptation measure. Only those measures that are labeled as “adaptive” or also unintentional adaptation measures? On which criteria are measures prioritised? Who decides about this? How are measures selected and implemented?

    Of course we cannot discuss all these topics/questions and of course, some of these will also be covered by the other sprints (esp. questions about vulnerability and indicators in Amsterdam). However we should not forget these aspects and clearly emphasise that we deliberately focus only on a specific set of questions in the first sprint. Otherwise the external experts would raise the same questions, I guess.

    2. Character of sprint

    In my previous (private) blog post (http://www.emapsproject.com/blog/archives/2265) I asked whether the sprints would have different “characters” such as controversial, specific, general, … Maybe we should just make sure that the external experts and especially the “alpha users” are fine with the controversial character of the Paris sprint (I guess they will be) or if we should open the discussion to more specific aspects that might be requested from the alpha users. I am not exactly sure and maybe this distinction is a bit artificial but decinding on this might streamline the discussions in advance of the sprint.

    Looking forward to any further comments!


  2. Dear Mark,
    Thanks a lot for your remarks.
    Concerning 1. : you’re totally right that we made a choice of particular issues for the first sprint, whose starting point is the UNFCCC framework. As you mention, we left out issues relating to vulnerability, because they will be developped in the second sprint. Same thing for “what is an adaptation measure” : we are planning to focus on adaptation projects in the third sprint, including problems relating to their very scope. So all the points you mention will be covered by the different sprints.

    Actually our idea is to “artificially” (but cleverly…) define a particular scope for each Sprint, but we know that these scopes partially overlap each other. So hopefully this will enable us, on the fourth sprint, to create navigations between the maps .

    Concerning 2. : you are right as well. This is why we are calling/skyping each “alpha-user” to explain them what we are trying to achieve, and also get their input about the topics that we choose (actually the above framing of the “topic” has been tremendously influenced by the different alpha-users we have spoken with). We are trying to be clear about why we want them to participate, while at the same engaging them in the experiment and selling the benefits of their participation for their activity (and it is not easy…).


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