“CSOs’ role in SACOSAN and their commitment to improve WASH issue in South Asia” by Mahjabeen Khan -FANSA-PAK/SCOPE

“CSOs’ role in SACOSAN and their commitment to improve WASH issue in South Asia”

The 4th South Asia Conference on Sanitation (SACOSAN) took place in Colombo with the theme ‘Sanitation Enhances Quality of Life”. The conference was attended by all the representatives of South Asian countries to discuss situation of water and sanitation issues and challenges in their respective countries to come up with the strategies to cope up.

Beside this meeting, a meeting was also held among representatives of CSOs from Nepal, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Bhutan, who  gathered in to exchange experiences and play their role as a watchdogs for the betterment of sanitation. They also highlighted the demands of people from the governments of South Asian Countries.

The two days consultation meeting was held in Sr lanka under the theme of “Grassroots Voices for Safe and Sustainable Sanitation in South Asia”.  The consultation meeting was jointly organized by Fresh Water Action Network South Asia (FANSA), WaterAid and Water Supply Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC).

After first CSOs meeting in Delhi in 2008, CSOs delectation was highly appreciated by the government representatives and included all important points in official declaration, which was success of all CSOs and their collation partners.

The Delhi Declaration 2008 set out clear commitments and milestones for tackling the crisis. It also recognised that access to safe sanitation and drinking water is a basic right and in particular national priority to sanitation is imperative. This affirmed the commitment to achieve millennium development goals on sanitation by 2015.

After this meeting the ministry of water and sanitation of Sirlanka gave space to the FANSA, Wateraid and WSSCC into inter country working group (ICWG) for SACOSAN-4.

This was the real success of all the coalition partners to get chance to raise voice at grass root and ministerial level. However, we had never forgotten the key role of CEJ Director of Mr. Hementa who had developed linkages’ with the government and included peoples spokes person in dialogue process.

All four countries were fully involved to make second event of pre-SACOSAN successful. All countries had organized many consultation meeting in their respective countries and gave their comments on SACOSAN traffic light and on CSOs traffic light paper. Many consultation meetings were held in Nepal, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh and spotlighted people’s perspectives on sanitation issues.

In second consultation meeting CSOs members strongly urged for a time-bound action plan for delivering the previous SACOSAN commitments made in Dhaka, Islamabad and Delhi.

They urged the government to work progressively and realise the ‘right to sanitation’ in  programmes and projects and eventually in legislation in their country policy.

The key commitments of SACOSAN-IV, which reflect the ‘asks’ from the CSO statement was;

  • Working towards progressive realization of the Right to Water and Sanitation and to eventually bring it into legislation (although the coalition had advocated for omitting the term ‘eventual’ as it weakens the governments’ commitments to move on this issue without delay);
  • Time bound plans and allocation of resources to deliver on previous SACOSAN commitments;
  • Delivering context specific equitable and inclusive sanitation and hygiene programmes; and
  • Developing strong monitoring and accountability mechanisms and adoption of “participation, inclusion and social accountability” mechanisms at all stages of sanitation and hygiene programming, particularly for programmes concerning the marginalized and vulnerable sections of our societies.

Now the responsibility lies over the shoulders of all the CSOs to disseminate people’s demand and government’s commitment among CSOs, community leaders, local bodies of Governance, Bureaucrats and media.

“What could possibly come out of Cancun? by Tanveer Arif, SCOPE, FANSA

Colleagues; this is  my last day here at CoP-16 at Cancun, so it could be possibly my last blog. Today I attended a side event “Pakistan Floods, an eye opener” organized by government of Pakistan and they screened a heart breaking and overwhelming documentary on incredible devastation of recent flood in Pakistan. I am sure many eyes spilled tears watching that catastrophe on screen. The movies followed by speeches of experts and minister of environment, which followed by question and answer session and one questions was “can poor people of Pakistan affected by floods make recent floods as damage case against polluters and claim climate change compensation, as country who doesn’t contribute significantly in global warming but had to pay heavily for the sins of affluent nations? This question says all but there was no answer from anybody.

Anyway, what we are going to get from Cancun, this the question. This afternoon I saw Mr. Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary General, who himself is one of the biggest climate change advocate, saying in a packed room, that we should not expect a perfect agreement here, but something less than a perfect agreement. Basically countries are divided over how to strengthen pledges to cut carbon emissions, made at last year’s Copenhagen summit which ended in a brief, non-binding agreement.

So look for the following issues how they are decided in next 3 days;

– Whether to continue Kyoto Protocol (KP), which is a binding agreement for emission reduction and supported by developing countries. Its first round of targets or commitment period ends in 2012, and to decide on the length of second commitment period of the next round of targets, for example whether to 2017 or 2020. As I reported in earlier blog Japan is not in favour of continue the KP because still very few countries have ratified it

– Decision on whether to cancel surplus, tradable emissions credits owned by countries that are well below their 2008-2012 Kyoto targets. Credits are called assigned amount units (AAUs)  Emissions targets

– Decision on setting up new national targets either under the 1997 KP or the 1992 U.N. climate convention, or both

– Some industrialized countries do not like KP, as so far it has only controlled the emissions of developed countries. A way out may be to note new targets in an appendix to KP and the convention

– Refer to a long-term goal, for example to limit warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees F)

– Mention the widely held scientific view that emissions targets pledged so far are too weak

– Review in 2013-2015 whether targets need strengthening Measurement

– Measurement, reporting and verification (MRV)

– Agree to measure developed country emissions, for example annually, and also their contribution to climate aid funds

– Agree to measure developing countries greenhouse gases and their actions to slow emissions growth, perhaps every two to four years

– Agree common accounting standards, for example on measuring carbon emissions from forests

– A political agreement to pay tropical countries not to clear natural forests, called reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD)

– Launch a program to set rules

– Delay decision on whether to include the scheme under an existing market in carbon offsets called the clean development mechanism (CDM)

– Agree safeguards for wildlife and indigenous peoples i.e. Green fund

– A political commitment to establish a new long-term fund to help especially the least developed countries cut carbon emissions and prepare for climate change

– The fund would articulate with a commitment countries made in Copenhagen last year to raise $100 billion annually by 2020

– Launch a program to decide the board structure including the split between developed and developing countries

– Link new sources of financing, including the proposed new green fund, as well as “fast-start” funding of $30 billion from 2010-2012 agreed last year in Copenhagen

– Create a disaster relief mechanism, to help countries which have suffered extreme weather events

– Launch a “technology mechanism,” including establishing regional technology centers in developing countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa


and finally water splashed loud at Cancun!! by Tanveer Arif, SCOPE, FANSA

Good news, the mission of Water and Climate Coalition (WCC) is achieved to great extent as sounds of water splash were heard clear and loud by the world community at Moon Palace Hotel Cancun on Saturday. The WCC, of which FAN is an active member, deserves thumps up and applause, as they worked hard days and night and lobby numerous country delegates to convince them to come up with a proposition at the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice of the UNFCCC.

Six countries called for water to be put on the climate agenda. They highlighted the fact that climate change stands to have a significant impact on water resources, and stressed the need for further discussions on how this issue can be addressed within the climate framework.

Ecuador and Sudan took initiative for this call in their statements, which was supported by Syria, Chile, El Salvador and Sierra Leone. These countries proposed that water should be put on the agenda for the next meeting of the body which provides scientific and technical advice to the climate convention, the SBSTA.

Climate change is actually WATER CHANGE. “Therefore these countries said that water should be addressed more prominently at the climate change negotiations. Climate change impacts will primarily be felt through water, and the way we manage our water will be critical to our resilience. This issue has long been neglected at the intergovernmental level and we would welcome the opportunity to discuss it at greater length in the future” reported Outreach magazine of Stakeholders Forum.

Water is a recognized human right and climate change has posed serious threats to poor countries in the form of too much water (floods) or too little water (drought).

Today on on December 6th a press conference was organized by the Water and Climate Coalition (WCC), an alliance of twelve international organisations and research centres which works to raise the profile of water issues in the context of the climate negotiations.  Hannah Stoddart of Stakeholders Forum said that water has previously been more or less absent from the discussions at the climate negotiations. The fact that several countries formally addressed this issue today is a big breakthrough. The WCC has been proposing the establishment of a work programme on water under the Convention, which would develop policy guidelines, provide advice to the climate change funds and promote action on water related issues at a country level. Karin Lexen of the Water and Climate Coalition and the Stockholm International Water Institute explained “Climate change will have a drastic impact on the world’s water resources. An increased global temperature will lead to changes in the water cycle that will affect people’s livelihoods and development opportunities. Millions more people will face water scarcity, and will have to deal with water hazards including floods, droughts and glacier-melt”.

Natalie Seguin of Freshwater Action Network said “to help communities and countries deal with climate change challenges, water should be integrated in the climate convention processes not as a sector but as a cross cutting natural resource. It’s crucial to strengthen water aspects on adaptation processes but also understand the relations with mitigation.


Can we afford not to highlight water in climate change discourse at Cancun?

Can we afford  not to highlight water in climate change discourse at Cancun?

By: Tanveer Arif, SCOPE Pakistan on behalf of Freshwater Action Network South Asia (FANSA)

This morning I had to rush Cancun Messe to catch the meeting of Water and Climate Coalition (WCC), in which members had to update each other about their lobby efforts. WCC which consists on high profile international environmental organizations and networks is busy in lobbying for pushing WATER in the mainstream of the climate negotiations, at CoP-16, here at Cancun. FAN as an active member of WCC, is also part of this campaign here.

Those who don’t follow climate change often have to confront two jargons “mitigation” and “adaptation”. These are two main streams at the climate negotiation. Mitigation primarily deals with matters that can find permanent solution to global warming problem, such as reducing emissions from using fossil fuels, energy production, industrial activities, transportation etc.

Adaptation is about to develop resilience against potential negative impacts of climate change. It is the only response available to face the climate change impact that will occur over the next several decades before mitigation measures can have an effect. Adaptation has to be involved in all sectors including agriculture, tourism, recreation, human health, water resources, economy, urban planning and nature conservation.

This is interesting to see an ideological divide between developed and developing (or least developed) nations in the politics of climate change. Rich would like to talk about mitigation, while poor are stuck to adaptation. The business and multinational corporation see huge investment and profit making opportunities in mitigation measures such as carbon capture technologies, clean energy production, electric cars etc. while developing counties see adaptation as matter of survival in the immediate future, as the global warming which already had taken place and still taking place, is affecting them badly.

Who doesn’t know about recent awful devastation caused by floods in Pakistan, which ransacked the entire country with 2000 people dead, 20 million displaced, $ 43 billion economical loss and inundation of 1/5th of its territory! Such extreme climate events cannot be over ruled in other parts of the world in near future, so climate adaptation such as developing water reservoirs, flood protection structures, refuge and relief infrastructure, water conservation technologies, drought resistant crops etc.

Talking climate is basically talking water as water is the main governing medium of climate phenomena. Drought, flood, irrigation, crops, food, cyclones, carbon sequestration…all involve water. Increased temperatures in the result of global warming will disturb the hydrological balance of the planet. Glaciers will be melted, hurricanes and floods will kill people and pollute water, and droughts will threaten food security and livelihood or people.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that ‘water and its availability and quality, will be the main pressures on, and issues for, societies and the environment under climate change’.

To many humanitarian activists water is not a privilege, it is basic human right. Water is a life medium for human survival, for livelihood, for employment, for industry. Therefore climate adaptation strategies require integrated water resources management at all levels right from ocean and rivers to community water supply systems. Freshwater resources are needed to be protecting from industrial and human waste and dangerous chemicals. Water is too big of an agenda in for climate change context, and deserves a separate treaty under the framework convention of UNFCCC.

I hope that WCC will be successful in its efforts in bringing issue of water in the lime light.

Kyoto controversy…. A bad news from Cancun By Tanveer Arif, FANSA Pakistan

Kyoto controversy…. A bad news from Cancun

By Tanveer Arif, FANSA Pakistan

A dispute over the question of extension of Kyoto Protocol beyond its shelf life expiry date 2012 has created water down effect on already “not so hopeful” climate talks here at Cancun. And guess…it’s not USA as usual; but to surprise of many, this is Japan, which is not interested to save Kyoto Protocol (KP) which is named after its own famous city! Can you believe it? ECO, the daily newsletter of NGOs has awarded Japan as “Fossil of the Day”.

Negotiations at Cancun are creeping at slow pace on a post-Kyoto framework, majority of countries want to see the landmark treaty, which is meant to cut carbon emissions, to survive beyond 2012, its expiry date. Japan now believes that KP is unfair and covers less than 30 percent of planet’s greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming. Climate change activists are shocked at Japan’s firm stance and insistence on not extending KP.

The KP, was negotiated in 1997 at Kyoto, Japan. It aims for developed nations to cut emissions by an average of 5% by the end of 2012 compared with 1990 emissions levels. However the main issue is that the emission control restriction doesn’t apply on the giant polluters such as USA, who withdrawn from the treat in 2001, and China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

Japan maintains that it does not make sense to go for the second commitment period under the KP as currently obligations are imposed on only a small part of developed countries.  Japanese negotiator Hideki Minamikawa said that this position of Japan on KP has been “clearly decided” by their cabinet.

This position of Japan has made KP a major issue at Cancun. Negotiators of many countries seemed deeply concerned on this position, and they are saying that solving this problem is fundamental to having a positive outcome in Cancun. The CoP-16 goals are already modest, a year after great disappointment of the Copenhagen summit. A failure in Cancun could be an irrevocable damage to the climate convention as KP is the only solid thing came out of it.

Developing country delegates are clearly worried on this situation. They fear a snow ball effect from avoiding second commitment period as Canada is also not very enthusiastic about the treaty. However some experienced negotiators think that in the end everything will be alright and they will succeed in getting second phase of KP.

Reported by Tanveer Arif, SCOPE and FANSA-Pakistan

Yes V CAN cun!

Attending a high level United Nations conference, such as CoP-16 is an incredible experience within itself. The moment you come to the conference venue on first day, the scene there fill you with energy and hope.  When you see hundreds of men and women coming to work together with enthusiasm and determination to serve a global cause, you naturally become optimistic and forget about failures of the past. My first day at Cancun was the similar optimistic experience. At Cancun Messe (the entrance of the conference centre) was decorated with official logo of CoP-16, with green leaves. I noticed a huge bill board near Cancun Messe with a slogan “Yes V CANcun”. For a moment my heart muttered “let’s forget disappointment of Copenhagen and move forward because we simply don’t have a choice, as they say failure in not an option”.

Standing at the gate of Moon Palace Hotel I was trying to read the minds of people who were walking briskly to their respective conference rooms and wondering, can these people coming from different corners of the world and having different stakes and interests, finally deliver us an instrument which could stop and even reverse climate change? Of course this is too much to ask…but then what? What choices we have? Look at devastating floods in Pakistan which was unprecedented in all respects, similarly severe droughts in Africa, forest fires in Russia, sand storms in China, hurricanes in Americas…all these events points towards same chilling conclusion, that the monster of climate change is definitely out and on the killing spree.

But do the world leaders and climate negotiators also share the spirit of “Yes V CANcun”? Unfortunately level of expectations and hopes seems to be very low here at Cancun. According to some experts the conference will act as a stepping stone to further negotiations at COP17. The outcome of COP16 is not yet predictable. But with snow storms across the United Kingdom last year and the Pakistan floods this year, we should realize that we cannot afford much time wasting only in deliberations without taking a concrete step forward to correct the injustices we committed in the past against the nature.

Report from CANCUN By: Tanveer Arif, SCOPE and FANSA-Pakistan

Report from CANCUN

By: Tanveer Arif, SCOPE Pakistan

Dear FANSA Friends

Greeting from Cancun, where the 16th. Conference of Parties (CoP-16), of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), started on 29 November 2010. I am here representing FANSA, along with other representatives of FANCA and FAN Mexico. I am sure you all may be following happenings at Cancun because, climate change has become a global concern for all and CoP-16 is an event which is in the lime light at present.

Cancun is a huge coastal tourist city of Mexico, with Caribbean climate and sandy beaches, where hundreds of large hotels exists. The government of Mexico has made excellent arrangements such as transportation, security and traffic to facilitate the meeting.

First let me give you a brief introduction of UNFCCC before telling you about our mission here.

The Convention and the Protocol

Over a decade ago, most countries joined an international treaty the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to begin to consider what can be done to reduce global warming and to cope with whatever temperature increases are inevitable. More recently, a number of nations approved an addition to the treaty: the Kyoto Protocol (KP), which has more powerful and legally binding measures.

The Convention on Climate Change sets an overall framework for intergovernmental efforts to tackle the challenge posed by climate change.  It recognizes that the climate system is a shared resource whose stability can be affected by industrial and other emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The Convention enjoys near universal membership.

Under the Convention, governments are supposed to;

•       Gather and share information on greenhouse gas emissions, national policies and best practices

•       Launch national strategies for addressing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to expected impacts, including the provision of financial and technological support to developing countries

•       Cooperate in preparing for adaptation to the impacts of climate change

The Convention entered into force on 21 March 1994.

The CoP-16 is taking place at an important juncture when the global community is expecting a firm action from the climate negotiators. I just heard from representative of Venezuela saying that we only have 15 days to take important decisions about the future of the planet.

Coming at a huge meeting like CoP-16 and follow particular issues of your interest, is a great challenge within itself. The UNFCCC negotiation process include many complex streams like mitigation, adaptation, finance and technical issues etc

FAN at CoP-16

Freshwater Action Network (FAN) is part of Water and Climate Change Coalition (WCC), which has membership of high profile organizations like IUCN, Green Cross, Stockholm World Water Institute (SWWI), WWF, Stakeholders Forum and Global Water Partnership (GWP).

WCC has come to CoP-16 with a specific agenda, which is doing advocacy and lobbying for putting water high on these climate change negotiations agenda. We had strategic meetings on Sunday 28 and today regarding lobbying with CoP-16 delegates on Work Programme on Water.

WCC is calling for the establishment of a work programme on water and climate under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The proposed functions of the work programme are as follows:

Discourse: Improving the global policy discourse on water and climate change – a work programme under the UNFCCC offers a space to ‘embed’ the water and climate discourse at an intergovernmental level, leading to improved understanding of the relationship between water and climate change.

Principles: Establishing guiding policy principles on water and climate change – the work programme will bring Parties together to coordinate and agree guiding policy principles on water and climate change which would be presented as recommendations to the COP. The policy principles would also help to guide the financial mechanism of the Convention.

Finance: providing advice and guidance to the climate change funds – the work programme would include an expert thematic advisory panel on water and climate change which would provide relevant and up-to-date information and analysis to the funds, including an assessment of the cost effectiveness of investing in water management.

Implementation: developing resources and tools, conducting analysis and capacity building to advance water and climate priorities – the work programme would include a focus on activities to enhance implementation. This would include developing resources, coordinating workshops and facilitating knowledge exchange.

Coherence: promoting synergies between global agreements and mechanisms on water and climate – the work programme would identify other Conventions and multilateral agreements that are relevant to water and climate change and promote the implementation of the provisions of these agreements. This would ensure coherence across the multi-lateral system and promote integration.

The work programme is being proposed as part of a broader range of ‘policy asks’ being put forward by the Water and Climate Coalition as part of its advocacy, outlined as follows:

•       The establishment of a work programme on water and climate under the Convention

•       Recognition of the importance of water management for climate change adaptation through the negotiations on adaptation under the UNFCCC

•       A thematic focus on water through the Nairobi Work Programme

•       Finance for climate change adaptation and mitigation that is managed through the UNFCCC should be guided by criteria that promote the sustainable management of water resources to build resilience to climate change

So this is a brief report on the opening day. I am sure the deliberations will be heated up as we go into next two weeks with intensive discussions and negotiations to cool down the Earth. There is indeed an environment of expectations and enthusiasm, which is reflected from the opening statements of delegates, who know that the public at large is focusing on them to get a breakthrough here, which they failed to take at Copenhagen.

I will come with further updates tomorrow.

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