The Climate Vulnerable Forum Has Come of Age
The Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) just held its high officials' meeting in Manila under the chairmanship of the government of the Philippines where they prepared the Manila Paris Declaration to be formally adopted at a heads of government meeting of the CVF countries in Paris on November 30. They also agreed on a Road Map for activities from 2016 to 2018.
Bangladesh is a founding member of the CVF which was set up by the former President of the Maldives President Nasheed in 2009 just before the Climate Summit in Copenhagen. He convened a heads of government meeting in the Maldives capital of Male with selected countries from the three formal groups of vulnerable developing countries, namely the Least Developed Countries (LDC), the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and Africa Groups.
Bangladesh was represented at the meeting in the Maldives by both the then Foreign Minister Dipu Moni as well as Environment Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud (the Prime Minister could not attend in person as she was on a state visit to Bhutan). Hence Bangladesh's subsequent involvement has been led by the Foreign Ministry with close cooperation of the Environment Ministry.
The purpose of the CVF was not to create a new negotiating bloc in the Climate negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) where the countries negotiate within their respective three negotiating groups, but rather to create a high level leaders' forum where issues that are common to the three existing groups of vulnerable countries could be highlighted at the leaders' level.
The main common issue that the CVF chose to push for was a long-term goal (LTG) of 1.5 Degrees Celsius instead of 2 Degrees which was the previous goal.
Since then the chairmanship of the CVF went to President Tong of Kiribati and then to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh who hosted a high level meeting in Dhaka in 2013.
After Bangladesh, it went to Costa Rica and now the Chair is President Aquino of the Philippines.
The CVF is governed by a Troika system which is led by the current Chair along with the immediate past two Chairs. Hence Bangladesh, along with Costa Rica and the Philippines, are the current Troika leaders and were heavily involved in organising and running the Manila meeting.
Bangladesh was ably represented by senior officials from the Foreign Ministry and Department of Environment (representing the Environment Ministry).
The CVF Meeting in Manila picked up on the outputs of the recently completed 2013 to 2015 review of the LTG through a Structured Expert Dialogue (SED) under the UNFCCC which unequivocally reiterated, based on scientific studies, that while a 2 Degrees LTG will keep safe most of the world's countries, communities and ecosystems, it will not be able to keep them ALL safe. Hence a LTG of 1.5 Degrees is needed to keep all countries, communities and ecosystems safe.
Furthermore, many of the countries, communities and ecosystems that will not be safe with a 2 Degree LTG belong to the CVF countries. Hence the CVF is strongly reiterating its demand for the LTG to be changed from 2 Degrees to 1.5 Degrees in the Paris Agreement to be negotiated at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) to be held in Paris in December.
President Aquino of the Philippines will be inviting the heads of the government of the CVF countries to the high level meeting of the CVF in Paris on November 30. As a member of the CVF's governing Troika, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (if she accepts the invitation to go) will have a special focus in Paris as head of the CVF.
One important aspect of the evolution of the CVF is that over time it has evolved from being primarily an advocacy group to a pro-active leadership group that helps tackle climate change at home and allows for the sharing of experiences with each other in South-South collaboration. For example, the Philippines has set up a South-South Centre of Climate Information while the Finance Minister of the Philippines mobilised the Finance Ministers from the CVF countries to form a sub-group of Finance Ministers of CVF Countries calling themselves the V20 (for Vulnerable 20) on the margins of the Annual meeting of the World Bank held in Lima, Peru last month. Bangladesh was represented at that meeting by Dr Atiur Rahman, Governor of Bangladesh Bank.
This group of V20 Finance Ministers has agreed to support actions in each of the CVF countries as well as South-South cooperation across CVF countries.
The Climate Vulnerable Forum has now come of age and Bangladesh can be proud of its founding membership and chairing of the Forum through the early stages. The time has come for Bangladesh to take the Action Agenda under the CVF Road Map for 2016 to 2018, and implement some of the actions agreed upon. One possible action might be to capitalise on Bangladesh's experience (both in government as well as civil society) on Adaptation to set up a South-South Centre on Adaptation Technologies through a public-private partnership (PPP) arrangement.
The writer is Director, International Centre for Climate Change and Development at the Independent University, Bangladesh.