Adaptation programme or framework

Legal assistance paper

All reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of this information at the time the advice was produced (please refer to the date produced below). However, the materials have been prepared for informational purposes only and may have been superseded by more recent developments. They do not constitute formal legal advice or create a lawyer-client relationship. You should seek legal advice to take account of your own interests. To the extent permitted any liability is excluded. Those consulting the database may wish to contact LRI for clarifications and an updated analysis.

Date produced: 02/06/2010

1. What is the difference between a ‘framework’ and a ‘programme’?

2. What are the relative advantages and disadvantages/strengths and weaknesses of calling for an ‘adaptation framework’ or an ‘adaptation programme’?

3. Is an option (i.e. framework vs. programme) better for delivering some of the elements mentioned above and not others? In which case, would this mean that each option prioritises different elements in the adaptation package?

1. The starting point to differentiate between a ‘framework’ and a ‘programme’ is to look at their  ordinary meaning. In the present context, a framework is a structure designed to facilitate work or activities, whereas a programme is a plan of action or activities designed to accomplish a specified end. The use of these terms in the UNFCCC context is quite deliberate and has, in the past, been linked to whether certain issues be dealt with under SBSTA (which is more focused on technical advice etc.) or SBI (which is more focused on implementation).

2. Whilst the name is secondary to the content of the package, there are different connotations that go with the terms ‘framework’ and ‘programme’. As noted above, frameworks tend to be more about the means of implementing action, whereas programmes usually include more capacity building and knowledge sharing activities.

In previous years (prior to consideration of adaptation in the AWG-LCA), adaptation had been dealt with under SBSTA and had resulted in programmes of action being adopted (e.g. the Nairobi work programme on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change, development and transfer of technologies, research and systematic observation (NWP)).

By way of example, the objective of the NWP is to assist all Parties, in particular developing countries, including the least developed countries and small island developing States to:

  • improve their understanding and assessment of impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change;
  • make informed decisions on practical adaptation actions and measures to respond to climate change on a sound scientific, technical and socio-economic basis, taking into account current and future climate change and variability.

3. The programme is delivered through workshops and expert meetings and the sharing of knowledge and research findings.

There are not many examples of frameworks being adopted under either SBSTA or SBI to deliver outcomes on different issues. One example is the ‘framework of meaningful and effective actions to advance Article 4 paragraph 5 of the Convention (technology transfer)’ which was adopted by Decision 4/CP.7. However, the nature of this framework was focussed on needs assessments, information sharing and capacity building, rather than supporting direct development, deployment and transfer of technologies. As part of the negotiations on technology transfer, a number of developing countries consistently called for more outcomes based approaches to be adopted which can deliver actual technology transfer. This was linked to efforts to move discussions of the agenda item into SBI.  Of note, the decision on technology transfer adopted in Poznan (2/CP.14) refers to the Poznan programme of strategic action on technology transfer. This programme is arguably more comprehensive in terms of objectives than many other programmes and involves scaling up support for actual projects, but has nevertheless been called a ‘programme’.

Similar issues have also arisen in relation to addressing adaptation under both SBSTA and SBI, but this has largely been overtaken by the AWG-LCA negotiations. As you would be aware, the Copenhagen Accord notes that enhanced action and international cooperation on adaptation is urgently required. The draft AWG-LCA consolidated text dated March 2010 refers to ‘establishing the Copenhagen Adaptation Framework [for Implementation]’, sets out a range of activities for countries to undertake (including planning, needs assessments, institutional capacity building, developing mechanisms to assist with adaptation) and proposes the establishment of a committee or body to oversee the progress of the framework.

The strengths of calling the adaptation package a ‘framework’ as opposed to a ‘programme’ is that this has traditionally been linked more to implementation. In contrast, programmes have tended to be more about a series of actions designed to increase knowledge and awareness. Furthermore, if a ‘framework’ has a body to oversee its implementation, it is more likely be able to measure results.

The adaptation package (be it a framework or programme) must ensure implementation of adaptation activities, and sufficient funding for these activities, but also critical is the inclusion of an insurance mechanism, a mechanism for loss and damage (the compensation mechanism), capacity building, and short as well as long-term financing.

In our view, a framework, with the elements that have initially been proposed in the AWG-LCA draft text will be more likely to achieve the outcomes related to the support of adaptation activities (through capacity building, knowledge transfer, and transfer of financial resources).  This is particularly the case if there is an implementing committee or body established to oversee any mechanisms.

Programmes have tended to be more focussed on capacity building issues and knowledge sharing (which may be the initial focus of some LDCs). However, if the content of the programme covered the matters raised above, and means of establishing and overseeing mechanisms under the programme were able to be determined, then the name would not be a barrier.