The first two weeks of December 2018 saw the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (widely referred to as ‘UNFCCC COP24’) take place in Katowice, Poland. Delegates from almost 200 countries and the European Union worked to implement the ‘Paris Agreement’, signed at COP21 in 2015, and contribute to a sustainable global climate policy.

During the conference, a high-level side-event titled ‘Mountain adaptation: vulnerable peaks and people’ was hosted on 11 December 2018 in recognition of International Mountain Day. This event invited government representatives from Austria, Poland and many other mountain regions to come together with UN Environment, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Grid-Arendal and other mountain partners, with the common goal of raising awareness about the heightened vulnerability of mountains to the effects of climate change.

Like most mountain regions around the world, the Carpathian Mountains are extremely sensitive to climate change given their high-altitude. This is threatening to not only the biodiversity ‘hotspots’ and unique eco-systems found in the Carpathians, but also the local and downstream communities that rely upon the Carpathians for many essential resources and services.

The ‘Outlook on Climate Change Adaptation in the Carpathian Mountains’ report, produced by UN Environment and GRID-Arendal in 2017, described the threats of climate change to the Carpathians and outlined recommendations for how Carpathian countries could implement the principles articulated in the Carpathian Convention and improve mountain resilience to climate change.

At the side-event on 11 December 2018, UN Environment and GRID-Arendal co-launched the latest report in the Mountain Adaptation Outlook series: Synthesis Report. It draws upon the findings of the above report and facilitates comparison with other regional approaches implemented across the globe. Additionally, the report emphasises shared challenges from climate change and recommends areas for interregional cooperation.

On the day, the panel discussion centred around the key barriers to effective regional cooperation in climate change adaptation, with a particular focus on the importance of inter-regional exchanges of knowledge and expertise between mountain countries on the best approach to combatting the threats posed by climate change. The Carpathian Convention was cited during discussions as one such example of successful regional cooperation on climate change adaptation. Being the only multi-level governance mechanism that covers the entirety of the Carpathian area, the Convention fosters collaboration between the seven Parties, and facilitates the development of numerous initiatives for the protection and sustainable development of the region.

In his opening remarks at the side-event, HE Henryk Kowalczyk, Minister of Environment of Poland, commented: “Today I am not only representing the Presidency of COP24, but I am also representing the Carpathian region”… “In order to ensure protection and sustainable development of the Carpathians, seven countries (…)15 years ago adopted a framework convention – the Carpathian Convention.” “(…) the countries of the Carpathian Convention have realized that the implementation of common goals depends on how we manage the impacts of climate change.”

Despite the growth and development of the Carpathian Convention since its adoption in 2003, until last year, there had been no explicit mention of climate change in the Convention. At COP5 to the Framework Convention on the Protection and Sustainable Development of the Carpathians, which took place in Lillafured, Hungary from 10 – 12 October 2017, ‘Article 12bis Climate Change’ was formally introduced to the Convention. This had the effect of enshrining the Parties’ commitments to both pursue policies aiming at climate change mitigation and adaptation, and to undertake measures to minimise the adverse effects of extreme weather events and other manifestations of climate change.

For more details about the UNFCCC ‘Mountain adaptation: vulnerable peaks and people’ side-event hosted at COP 24, please see the attached flyer.



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