What is the role of law in climate change adaptation?

Does the law help or impede adaptation efforts? How can we resolve the tension between law, which is "stationary", and adapting to a changing climate, which is a dynamic, constantly evolving process?

These were some of the questions being addressed at an all day conservation campus event on 'Law, good governance and climate change adaptation' held on Friday, 7 September at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Jeju, Korea. The event was organized by the IUCN Environmental Law Centre and the Environmental Law Institute. Co-organizers and partners included the World Resources Institute, the International Development Law Organization, the IUCN Commission on Environmental Law, the IUCN Eastern & Southern Africa Regional Office (ESARO), and the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law.


CC99 Adaptation Law and Governance

The purpose of the event was to identify common issues, challenges, and potential solutions related to law and governance for adaptation to climate change in the biodiversity and natural resource sectors and share relevant experiences from protected areas and water governance. Key themes and messages from presentations and group discussion were:

Adaptation law and governance: concepts and practice at national and international law

• Increasing focus on law in climate change adaptation efforts.
• At the international level, in the Rio Conventions, the picture is somewhat fragmented but rich and complex. In the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Cancun was significant for affording adaptation the same priority as mitigation.
• Looking at case studies in Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia, there were significant policy and legislative gaps but the process of reviewing policy and legal frameworks to incorporate climate change had started and should be meaningfully supported.
• More thinking required to assess where the law is best suited to help adaptation efforts. Some examples include certainty in obligations, monitoring, procedures and long term incentives. Goals need to be defined.
• More and more work has been done on legal, regulatory and planning tools to address climate change adaptation. There is a continued need, however, to communicate law and adaption more clearly and more broadly.
• Community property rights and public participation need to be strengthened.

Adaptation law and connectivity

• Existing legal tools to support connectivity conservation should be used and built upon.
• South Africa has a wide range of policy and legal tools to support adaptation in general, and connectivity conservation in particular.
• South Korea has a legal regime which established and successfully supports a corridor with national spiritual, ecological, and adaptation significance;
• Strong traditions of local governance, communal resource tenure, and traditional and local ecological knowledge present fertile conditions for community-based adaptation in the Pacific Islands.

Adaptation law and water

• Conserving ecosystems that are naturally able to store and regulate water quality and flows.
• Enhance the ability of people and institutions through capacity development, water funds and other payment schemes, better integrated policy development, focus on people as part of the ecosystem in river basins.
• Learning by doing, not waiting for the perfect plan, and making the complex manageable in practice support adaptive water management in Mesoamerica.

The agenda, details on the presenters and copies of presentations can be found here.

For more information please contact Warren.Waetford@iucn.org

Work area: 
Environmental Law
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