Why COP27 Matters to Southeast Asia

People navigate through flooded streets in the Philippines after a typhoon.
Climate change is a critical issue for everyone but with Southeast Asia being one of the world’s most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, the meeting's outcome is particularly important for the region. Photo credit: ADB

The global community has now gathered at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt for the COP27 climate conference.

The COP, or Conference of the Parties, is the key decision-making forum of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change and its impacts.

Climate change is a critical issue for everyone but with Southeast Asia being among the world’s most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, the meeting's outcome is particularly important for the region. The UNFCC has predicted dire consequences for the region, with climate impacts continuing to grow more severe, disproportionately impacting vulnerable communities, and placing millions at risk of being thrown back into extreme poverty.

Extreme weather due to climate change has been devastating for the region of late. Recenty, Typhoon Nalgae caused landslides and flooding in the Philippines and killed more than 100 people. In Thailand, at least 30 of the country's 77 provinces have been flooded since September due to heavy rainfall. In Malaysia in December last year, Typhoon Rai caused flash floods, which affected tens of thousands of people and displaced 40,000 across six states.

These kinds of weather events will only increase in intensity and frequency as a consequence of climate change. Therefore, COP outcomes are particularly important for meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UNFCCC to keep global warming below 1.5ºC.

COP27 mission

Under Egypt's presidency over COP27, the conference has set out its mission in four areas: mitigation, adaptation, finance, and collaboration. 

Mitigation. COP27 seeks to enjoin the global community to limit global warming to well below 2ºC and work hard to keep the 1.5ºC target alive. This requires bold and immediate actions and raising ambition from all parties in particular those who are in a position to do so and those who can and do lead by example. This year, parties are expected to implement the Glasgow pact call to review ambition in nationally determined contributions to achieve carbon neutrality and meet commitments under the Paris Agreement and create a work program for ambition on mitigation.

Adaptation. The global community needs to ensure that COP27 makes the crucially needed progress on commitments made during COP26 and urge all parties to demonstrate the necessary political will to capture and assess progress toward enhancing resilience and assist the most vulnerable communities

COP27 also seeks to see enhanced global agenda for action on adaptation, confirming what was agreed on in Paris and further elaborated in Glasgow with regard to placing adaptation at the forefront of global action.

Finance. COP27 also wants to see significant progress on the crucial issue of climate finance while moving forward on all finance-related items on the agenda. It will call on parties to ensure enhanced transparency of finance flows and facilitated access to meet the needs of developing countries specially Africa, least developed countries, and small island developing states.

Existing commitments and pledges will be followed up in order to provide clarity as to where action is needed, including on the progress on delivery of the annual $100 billion needed to finance the global climate goals.

Collaboration. Enhancing and facilitating agreement in the negotiations is of the utmost importance for the presidency of COP27 to achieve tangible results in a balanced manner. The advancement of partnership and collaboration will help deliver goals and ensure the world is adopting a more resilient, and sustainable economic model where people are at the center of climate talks.

COP27 will call on parties to introduce new solutions and innovations that help alleviate the adverse impacts of climate change as well as replicate and rapidly upscale all other climate-friendly solutions toward implementation in developing countries. COP27 will be held on 6–18 November, with more than 40,000 attendees expected.

Climate change adaptation has become an ever-increasing priority for the Asian Development Bank. “We cannot avoid all the impacts of climate change, they are already happening, so we have to focus on building resilience of the most vulnerable communities,” said ADB Climate Envoy Warren Evans in an article posted on ADB’s website.

ADB raised its ambition for climate change financing for 2019–2030 from $80 billion to $100 billion, of which $34 billion is marked for adaptation.

Next year’s Southeast Asia Development Symposium (SEADS) from ADB will examine how Southeast Asia can make the transition to net zero and achieve climate resilience, while ensuring economic prosperity.