CBIT support is very timely to continue inter-institutional processes key to climate change in Uruguay
Interview with Virgínia Sena, from the Climate Change Division of the Ministry of Housing, Land Planning and Environment of Uruguay
Transparency is being called the backbone of the Paris Agreement, but why is it important for Uruguay to strengthen its national transparency system?
Uruguay has faced climate change and the commitments to the UNFCCC since long time ago, and we know that the modalities procedures and guidelines are not yet decided, but for Uruguay it's useful for domestic purposes to strengthen the domestic transparency on climate change. Besides, the transparency issues are not new for Uruguay, for example, we have a very important time series for the GHG inventory, since 1990 to now, and on December last year we presented the second BUR with the inventory for year 2014.
We have also made progress on programming mitigation and adaptation measures and we are now just starting to develop a system to monitor these measures. But for monitoring these measures there is a lot of work to be done, and our CBIT project is very much focused on that. That is, to find methodologies, to develop indicators to track the implementation of those measures.
It seems like Uruguay's CBIT project is very much linked to its Nationally Determined Contribution.
It's very much related to the implementation of our Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). We elaborated the project proposal during the process of elaborating our first NDC. We presented our first NDC in November last year, and we finished the elaboration of the CBIT proposal also in November. These processes have been very close, and the needs for the project come from the NDC. In the NDC, we set the compromise to carry out some mitigation, adaptation and capacity building measures and we set targets, and of course we have to elaborate more on these measures, and in particular to find indicators to monitor the progress. These tasks will be strengthened using the support of CBIT.
So, of course we have the Paris Agreement in mind, but despite the international commitments for Uruguay it's very important to develop a monitoring and verification system for domestic purposes. The NDC process was a national process that involved ministries and institutions besides the Ministry of Environment. And so we have the domestic commitment to show other institutions the tracking of progress of these measures, despite the international commitments. So the CBIT process is important for domestic interests of Uruguay.
Uruguay is one the first countries to access CBIT funds, was it strategical to be a first mover?
The CBIT support is very timely to continue the inter-institutional process that started with the elaboration of the National Climate Change Policy, which was approved in 2017 by an executive power decree, and then the NDC process also in 2017. We have all these institutions already engaged in the transparency area and sensitized to climate issues, and therefore having support to continue this process is very opportune.
There is also political support for moving forward in the climate transparency area. One of the indicators of that support was the approval by decree of the national climate change policy and our first NDC. Our first NDC was also open for public consultation. Climate change is recognized as an important issue not only regarding the commitments to reduce their emissions, but also taking into account the vulnerability of the country to climate change. For instance, our NDC not only presents mitigation measures but also adaptation measures that we will implement to tackle climate change.
What is the vision of Uruguay for the system that is going to be built for transparency, and what will CBIT do in that respect?
The CBIT project will support the work of the task force group on Measurement Reporting and Verification (MRV) of the NDC. This group was created in the framework of the National Response System to Climate Change and Variability, and is working on the design of a matrix in Excel where we have all the mitigation and adaptation measures identified in the NDC. We are studying the indicators to check the progress and the impacts, and track if we can reach the target for that measure or not. We are also identifying the financial resources that are already in place to carry out these mitigation and adaptation measures, and identifying gaps in financial resources or in the capacity needed to implement the measures.
This is the system we are trying to design, using a simple excel sheet to systematize the information and understand where we are, the gaps that exist, and the information that we need to construct indicators for which we need to start collecting data. The CBIT support will increase the number of consultants that are involved in this work.
So, is Uruguay's CBIT project also focused on adaptation measures and on the tracking of support needed and received?
The CBIT project will also enhance the tracking of the progress of the adaptation options. Adaptation options were identified in the past, with some studies on vulnerability, precipitation, and temperature increases. The CBIT project will deepen the indicators for tracking of the implementation of the measures and also for tracking the support needed to implement these adaptation measures.
We are thinking that, for each of the mitigation and adaptation measures we will identify the resources that are already in place, both from domestic resources and from international support. And also the transversal issue that is the technical and institutional capacity, we will look into that and identify what is not available. Perhaps, when we go through this process we identify some capacity that doesn't exist in the country, which we will have to increase, or learn, or have some new methodologies or know-how for measurement.
How is your experience with peer-to-peer learning in the area of transparency? Could you provide some examples?
The most relevant experience we have on peer learning was through our participation in Red INGEI. We participated in Red INGEI, and actually I am now the focal point in that network from Uruguay. The exchange we have in the Red INGEI meetings is useful, and was useful for us regarding the national inventory system. For example, we learned from the experience of Chile in building that system in their country, and we moved forward last year to design and implement the national GHG system for Uruguay. We think that for peer-to-peer exchanges it's very important that we speak the same language. I can express in English but it's not the same if I can speak in Spanish. It's always useful to see what other countries are doing, and to see how they are thinking about the theme of MRV system, which is very new for developing countries. We can definitely learn from each other.
Is the Red INGEI network only based on in-person meetings?
I think it's important to have meetings, to see each other face-to-face, not very frequently but at least once or twice a year. Because the face-to-face brings trust and helps to build ties. Then, if I am in Uruguay and the other person I already know is in Colombia, we can communicate at distance. Establishing these ties is important to sustain the collaboration in the long term. But, of course we also use email. These are mostly informal contacts. For example, regarding the public communication and the public awareness of climate change, we saw that Chile and Argentina elaborated some leaflets and brochures, and we took them as inspiration to do something similar in our country.
Also, in this network we have the possibility to ask for support on some specific issue. For example, we asked another member of the network to come to Uruguay for a capacity building exchange on uncertainty for the inventories. This possibility and this offer from the network is very useful for the member countries.
You have this great example of Red INGEI in peer-to-peer learning, what are your expectations for the CBIT platform?
The expectation is that it will have things like case studies or examples from other countries that are dealing with identical problems as Uruguay. For example, the methodologies they are using to track mitigation measures or adaptation measures. I think that the global platform could be useful for that, if it can provide us other experiences or ideas to learn from. And perhaps also the opportunity to have a forum, for participants to exchange. I think it's important for the participants to know each other in order to facilitate the interaction and participation, because if you don't know the person it gets a bit difficult. Nevertheless, it will depend a lot on how these kind of dialogues will be stimulated and also on the persons working in each country. Perhaps 4 or 5 countries will use it more, and of course the language issue is important.