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Deep Dive

What Is the UAE Framework for Global Climate Resilience, and How Can Countries Move It Forward?

With the introduction of the new framework for the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA), COP 28 marked a milestone for adaptation. We unpack key outputs and set out how countries can move forward by strengthening their national monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) systems.

By Emilie Beauchamp on February 15, 2024

With the introduction of the new framework for the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA)—now snappily named the UAE Framework for Global Climate Resilience—the 28th UN Climate Change Conference (COP 28) marked a milestone for adaptation.

While there were several disappointing outcomes, the UAE Framework for Global Climate Resilience (UAE FGCR) emerged as welcome progress. The COP 28 decision represented a turning point that cemented the framing on adaptation, providing a critical and robust basis for all forthcoming discussions and actions.

But what next? COP 28 didn’t mark the end of discussions on the GGA—rather, it underlined the need for countries to implement actions now to progress the GGA and the UAE FGCR.

This deep dive highlights the framework’s key outputs, plus five ways countries can act on the UAE FGCR by strengthening their national monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) systems for adaptation.

What is in the COP 28’s UAE Framework for Global Climate Resilience?

The UAE FGRC is the culmination of the 2-year Glasgow-Sharm el-Sheikh (GlaSS) work program on the GGA. The GGA was established in 2015 under the Paris Agreement, but progress was slow in the first 6 years after the conference. Dynamics changed late in the second year of the GlaSS program, when we started to see countries concretely exchanging positions for the GGA framework to advance how we track, assess, report on, and learn from global progress on adaptation.

What the UAE FGRC is missing is the inclusion of means of implementation—namely finance, capacity building, and technology transfer—as part of the framework to assess adaptation progress. This means there is no strong incentive for countries to track, report, and assess support for adaptation in the GGA decision text, even if the importance of scaling up finance to achieve the GGA in developing and vulnerable contexts is acknowledged.

While disappointing, this outcome is not surprising, given the opposing views between developed and developing countries on the inclusion of finance in the GGA framework. Despite this, the final framework confirms foundational decisions for advancing action on adaptation and related MEL efforts.

Firstly, the new GGA framework finally provides an overarching statement that expands and complements the high-level definition of the GGA of “enhancing adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change” included under article 7.1 of the Paris Agreement. This is now completed with a statement that details a long-term vision for achieving the “collective well-being of all people, the protection of livelihoods and economies, and the preservation and regeneration of nature.”

Secondly, the COP decision establishes a total of 11 targets to frame the GGA and its assessment: four related to the adaptation process and seven based on key themes.

The seven thematic targets highlight global priorities for adaptation, namely in the sectors of water, food and agriculture, health, ecosystems and biodiversity, poverty and livelihoods, infrastructure, and cultural heritage. However, while these sectors are important globally, their relevance varies across the world. Countries need to contextualize if and how these themes apply in their geographies . For example, water-related hazards may cause floods in Pakistan, whereas semi-arid states are experiencing increasing water scarcity.

This is why the four process targets are critical. These targets reflect the four dimensions of the iterative adaptation cycle, which themselves are aligned with the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) process. They point to the process countries must undertake for effective adaptation: conduct impact, vulnerability, and risk assessments; plan for adaptation; implement adaptation plans and actions; and establish MEL systems for adaptation.

Thirdly, the COP 28 decision also includes cross-cutting considerations for countries to drive adaptation and implement the framework, including gender-responsive, participatory, and fully transparent approaches. However, the specification that countries should take cross-cutting considerations into account only “where possible” dilutes their weight.

Finally, it sets out further work on MEL for climate change adaptation, such as a new UAE–Belém work program to develop indicators for the targets. Modalities for the work program and potential new mandates for advancing the GGA are vague and will be discussed at SB60, the UN Climate Conference in Bonn this June. This deferral was likely a strategic move to pass a decision at COP 28. However, this means countries must prepare and push for more at SB60.

Five Actions Countries Can Take Now to Advance Work on the UAE FGCR

The new UAE FGCR will frame the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s next global stocktake, with a new cycle starting in 2026. This means countries have less than 3 years to implement and generate much-needed evidence on adaptation that will inform the next comprehensive assessment of the Paris Agreement.

While specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) indicators are useful to drive MEL of adaptation, they are not essential. In fact, most countries already have MEL systems and sets of indicators, even if at early stages, that can be used for MEL for adaptation. It is rare for countries to have nothing at all; therefore, building on the efforts countries have made to date on national MEL systems is essential to progress quickly on the GGA and UAE FGCR. Countries do not need to wait until the development of indicators—regardless of the status of their MEL systems, they can act now to strengthen their MEL for adaptation by:

  • Taking stock of progress against the four dimensions of the iterative adaptation cycle using the UAE FGCR. The UAE FGCR confirms these dimensions as core to advancing effective and inclusive adaptation action. Countries can assess the status of the adaptation progress through progress reporting. Countries do not need an advanced MEL system to do progress reporting; however, it enables stakeholders to reflect strategically on a country’s adaptation goals and where and how they are being achieved. Understanding their current status, potential gaps, and needs will help accelerate actions. It will also determine what MEL processes are needed to inform the UAE FGRC and the second global stocktake.
  • Aligning, but not replacing, national and local MEL systems. Several countries are currently preparing NAP documents, in which they set national targets and define their MEL system for adaptation. Several countries also already have early or advanced MEL systems for adaptation. Existing national MEL systems, even if nascent, hold valuable context and data. Countries should see the UAE FGCR as complementary to their existing system rather than use it for top-down application. As countries set or review their targets as part of the NAP process and other strategies, they can create a coherent MEL system that reflects both local priorities and global commitments. This ensures that national efforts contribute to the GGA and can easily inform the UAE FGCR through reporting. Aligning frameworks helps with the sharing of good practices, enhances reporting efficiency, and ensures that national efforts are recognized in the global picture.
  • Not over-emphasizing the need for global indicators. Adaptation is contextual. This is partly why the GGA involved such complex decisions and the UAE GFCR mostly includes high-level targets. Defining globally relevant targets and indicators that apply to all places and people is neither possible nor desirable. To be effective, adaptation should be locally led, gender responsive, and socially inclusive. The MEL system tracking those actions must equally be so. This approach to defining indicators and MEL systems ensures that UAE FGCR and other global frameworks serve as guiding principles rather than rigid templates. This fosters effective and locally meaningful MEL practices, embedding the cross-cutting considerations that the UAE FGCR highlights.
  • Convincing decision-makers of the need for increased resources and leadership on MEL for adaptation. All countries must make trade-offs when resourcing different national development priorities. The UAE FGCR sends a clear signal about the importance of MEL for adaptation, with the need for informing the next round of the GST in less than 3 years. National governments, especially teams involved in NAP processes and adaptation strategies, can leverage the COP 28 decision to highlight the urgent need for better data and evidence on adaptation progress. Countries should think about the skills and capacities they need to strengthen their MEL systems, what tools and technologies they can use, and the finance needed to design, implement, and sustain their MEL system. Grounding these efforts in the globally recognized framing of the UAE FGCR can also make it easier to get support and resources internationally.
  • Fostering multistakeholder engagement for data sharing. The UAE FGCR emphasizes the importance of inclusive participation. Countries can use the recent COP decision to start conversations and collaborations with actors that are involved in MEL for adaptation. This includes civil society, the private sector, and local communities, ensuring diverse perspectives are considered to inform national and global processes. Engaging in collaborative learning about how best to contextualize the UAE FGCR to national circumstances can also inspire innovative solutions, ensuring the MEL systems remain adaptable and effective in the face of evolving needs.

Ultimately, COP 28’s UAE FGCR marks the beginning of the real work on MEL for adaptation. In the next months, countries should contribute to the UAE–Belém work program on indicators by March 31, 2024, including their perspectives on its modalities, organization of work, timelines, inputs, and outputs.

There is also a critical need to keep calling for mandates that advance work on the GGA that weren’t included in the COP 28 decision and to make linkages between the UAE Framework and upcoming key negotiations at SB60 in Bonn and COP 29 in Azerbaijan. That includes the forthcoming decision on the new collective quantified goal (NCQG) for climate finance—especially in terms of creating the accountability mechanism for adaptation finance that was omitted at COP 28.

Some might see the wrapping up of the GlaSS work program as the end of a journey, yet now is not the time to stop and rest!