A report published by the International Bar Association (IBA) sets out the critical legal aspects of climate change adaptation and how, specifically, policy can play a crucial role in strengthening resilience and shaping the effectiveness of reducing people’s vulnerability to the harmful effects of climate change.

Emphasis is placed on the importance of pursuing integrated, multidisciplinary, multilevel approaches and good governance, as well as how climate adaptation can complement climate mitigation in achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement – the international treaty on climate change.

Entitled Legal Aspects of Climate Change Adaptation, the 200-page report was drafted by the IBA Working Group on Climate Change Adaptation, a specially convened group of legal scholars and practitioners who trained research on three core areas considered to be the most pressing for successful adaptation: migration, food security and technology transfer. Illustrating these different aspects are case studies on food security and fisheries in the Indian Ocean, desalination and the use of labour mobility to boost climate resilience.

IBA report on climate adaptation focuses on legal aspects to bring about successful implementation | International Bar Association

David Rivkin, former IBA president and partner at Debevoise & Plimpton, who formed the working group, commented: “We hope that this report will contribute to the groundswell of work aimed at ensuring the Paris Agreement climate targets are achieved. Climate adaptation is an important companion to climate mitigation in bringing some stability to the climate crisis. But, for climate change adaptation mechanisms to be successful, it is necessary to comprehend fully the nature and impact of interlinking concerns, including, for example, the lack of food security being a major driver of migration as drought or floods brought about by climate change pressure rural inhabitants to move to urban areas.”

David W Rivkin (@dwrivkin) / Twitter

David Rivkin, former IBA president and partner at Debevoise & Plimpton, who formed the IBA Working Group on Climate Change Adaptation. Credit: @dwrivkin, Twitter.

The report is divided into three chapters:

  • Chapter 1: Climate change-related migration and displacement examines the impact of climate change on human mobility and legal responses; labour mobility and regional climate adaptation; and climate change and internal displacement.
  • Chapter 2: Food security addresses issues including the interlinkages between climate change and food security; food systems’ impact on climate change; the complexity of food security as a climate change adaptation issue; and the right to food. The chapter also includes recommendations to strengthen existing governance and legal frameworks and a case study on food security and fisheries in the Indian Ocean.
  • Chapter 3: Technology transfer provides an overview of financing technology transfer; mechanisms for engaging private finance; accounting for climate finance in support of technology transfer; international investment agreements and technology transfer; as well as a case study on desalination.

The report contains a comprehensive set of recommendations to assist states party to the 2015 Paris Agreement meet global warming reduction targets through climate change adaptation. The recommendations broadly fall into the areas, as per the chapters, of climate change-related migration and displacement, food security and technology transfer. Some recommendations are aimed at international organizations because of their enormous potential to influence and/or effect change.

For example, the recommendations for Chapter 1 include the following:

Climate change-related migration and displacement

·  Start a dialogue – at regional or international level – on locations for the long-term resettlement of populations unable to return home due to climate damage;

·  Revise disaster risk management (DRM) laws and policies to ensure that they include mandates and processes for understanding and identifying climate displacement risk and ensure that technical and scientific bodies responsible for providing weather, climate, hydrological, and environmental monitoring and prediction services have sufficient human, financial and technical capacity; and

·  Ensure that systems are in place to communicate hazards at the local level and empower local governments and communities, as well as vulnerable and disenfranchised groups, to be involved in their own risk management.

The Legal Aspects of Climate Change Adaptation report is a call to governments and international organizations to take a step back, look at the bigger picture, and implement those changes that will make a difference.

Featured image by Annie Spratt @unsplash.

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