COP28 | MARTA ELLENA: “Three intertwined pillars to solve the climate crisis”

Positioned as a pivotal theme at COP28, adaptation efforts should aim for a shared and common framework to fortify resilience and reduce vulnerabilities at different scales. Adaptation is crucial in the context of the Global Stocktake, intended to inform Parties to the Paris Agreement on their progress against its goals, including limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5°C. National Adaptation Plans also take center stage in current climate discussions, marking the launchpad for states to decipher local and national vulnerabilities and risks, plan effective adaptation actions, and secure funding. CMCC scientist Marta Ellena shares insights illuminating COP28's ambition for a sustainable and resilient future.

“Since the adoption of the Paris Agreement, it has become evident that adaptation, alongside mitigation, holds a prominent position on the climate agenda,” said CMCC researcher Marta Ellena. “In recent years, attention to adaptation has steadily grown, at times overshadowing issues related to mitigation.”

According to Ellena, who is in Dubai as an Italian delegate, adaptation is a pivotal theme at COP28, integral to the Global Stocktake – a review process occurring every 5 years over a 2-year period to monitor progress regarding commitments made by the Parties in the Paris Agreement established at COP21.

“Adaptation is one of the three pillars on which the COP28 Global Stocktake is based, together with mitigation and the means of implementation,” said Ellena. “However, it is worth noting that these three pillars are closely linked as negotiating items. Without undertaking appropriate mitigation actions, there will be a greater need for adaptation in the future, requiring increased technical and economic support to undertake adaptation strategies and actions.”

The spotlight on adaptation at COP28 is tied to the ‘Glasgow–Sharm el-Sheikh work programme on the global goal on adaptation’. This aims to define a clear and shared framework to ‘enhance adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change, with a view to contributing to sustainable development and ensuring an adequate adaptation response in the context of the temperature goal.

Themes related to the decision on National Adaptation Plans are equally relevant, according to Ellena, as they are considered the starting point for States to understand vulnerabilities, planned actions, and implementation strategies in terms of capacity building and finance.

“These processes are fundamental components of the ‘adaptation policy cycle,’ consisting of four main phases,” said Ellena. The first phase is the assessment of climate risks: “An example of this first step is a research work by CMCC – to which I contributed – on the assessment of heatwave risk on the population using the City of Turin as a case study. In this study we considered the built environment and inequalities related to socio-economic urban contexts.”

The following phases are planning and implementing adaptation actions. “Planning can imply, for example, defining the development of targeted heat early warning systems to prevent casualties and/or hospitalizations due to heat-related reasons, giving priority to areas of the city considered most at risk,” said Ellena. “Implementing adaptation actions, on the other hand, can include determining the sources of funds – such as regional, national, local, or private bodies – and which entities to involve, such as scientific institutions, administrations or governments, for effective adaptation actions.”

The fourth step of the adaptation policy cycle consists of monitoring, evaluation, and learning. “This refers to a plan – and its implementation – to monitor actions to assess the real impacts of adaptation measures, to improve the ability to prevent losses and damages more effectively in the future, and thus learn what to enhance,” said Ellena.

In the context of a side event titled “Climate Change and Health, and the Role of Academic Institutions and Future Research Directions”, jointly organized by the University of Arizona, the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), Società Italiana per le Scienze del Clima (SISC), and University of California, Ellena highlighted some examples of adaptation measures to be implemented at the urban scale. These are based on an interurban risk assessment integrating socio-economic variables of the population with built-environmental features of the system under analysis.

Urban adaptation measures described by Ellena include prioritizing adaptation actions for vulnerable populations, such as targeted risk awareness campaigns, neighborhood social support programmes, and the inclusion of environmental and health inequalities issues in local strategies and plans.

The CMCC actively supports the Climate Delegation of the Ministry of the Environment and Energy Security (MASE), under the guidance of Federica Fricano. “The primary role of the CMCC is to assist Italy – and therefore the European delegation – in understanding issues related to adaptation to climate change,” said Ellena. “This includes specific items related to adaptation itself, such as specific negotiation sessions and topics related to National Adaptation Plans, matters related to Least Developed Countries, the Global Goal on Adaptation, and Loss and Damage issues. Additionally, the CMCC plays a role in the broader understanding of adaptation themes that will be incorporated into the Global Stocktake, which is the primary outcome of COP28.”

More on adaptation:

Visit the Adaptation Strategies section on CMCC Foresight magazine

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