Nepal was one of the countries involved in preparing and adopting the UNFCCC text in May 1992. Being a Party to the Convention in 1994 and the Kyoto Protocol in 2005, Nepal participated regularly in its conferences and meetings. Nepal's two decades of engagement in climate change regime could be grouped into: (i) formative stage (1992-2006); (ii) design and implementation stage (2007-'12); and (iii) leadership stage (2013-'14).
In the first stage, Nepal prepared and shared with Parties the initial national communication. In the second stage, Nepal strengthened institutional capacity, prepared climate change policy, NAPA and LAPA framework and CDM procedures, established coordination mechanism, secured about US$ 185m for climate change activities, generated and disseminated knowledge, including through Kalapatthar cabinet meeting, to international conference of mountain countries on climate change, became SBSTA rapporteur and LEG member, and formed and mobilized core negotiating team. Nepal offered its services as the Chair of the LDC Group of 48 countries for 2013 and 2014.
The LDC Group was established as a negotiating group in 2001 when Parties to UNFCCC at its COP7 agreed on LCD Work Programme and NAPA preparation guidelines, and established LDC Fund and LDC Expert Group. Before Nepal, Mali, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Maldives, Lesotho and The Gambia offered their services each for 2 years as the chair of this Group. In October 2011, in Panama, Nepal explored opportunities for chairing this Group for 2013 and 2014. In December 2011 in Durban (South Africa), Nepal and Bangladesh offered their services to chair the LDC Group. Nepal's negotiating capacity and continuity on participation was also raised. In early January 2012, Nepal formed Core Negotiating Team (CNT) for climate change regime. This initiative, climate change activities such as programmatic NAPA, LAPA and policy provisions (more than 80% for field level activities), and UN practice of 'principle of rotation' was helpful to convince Bangladesh. Unofficial discussion continued for 7 months and finally in June 2012 at Bonn, Germany, Nepal's offer was accepted. This was a turning point for Nepal to lead the UNFCCC negotiation process for 48 LDCs.
In 2010, Nepal was chairing the global LDC Group under the leadership of then Gyan Chandra Acharya. I had the opportunity to link it with climate negotiation process at Cancun (Mexico). Nepal (global chair) and Lesotho and The Gambia (then chair and in-coming chair of the LDC Group) worked closely for Cancun outcomes. In 2011 and 2012, The Gambia, under the chair Pa Ousman Jarju, heightened LDC Group in negotiation. It is interesting to note that Acharya was later appointed as the Under-Secretary General at the United Nations and Jarju is currently the Minister for Environment and Water Resources in The Gambia. Both have been recognized and rewarded. This underscores the importance of such positions. It is clear that development of a system is a long-term approach for positive change and person might show visible difference within a short time and may be honored at some point of time.
In December 2012 at Doha, The Gambia, in presence of ministers of both countries, handed over its chairmanship to Nepal. In January 2013, Nepal designated Prakash Mathema, then Joint-Secretary at MoSTE, to function as the Chair of the LDC Group. Unfortunately, he was transferred in September 2014, and was not included in Nepal's delegation to attend CoP20/CMP10 at Lima, Peru. The CoP20 was the last opportunity for Nepal to lead the LDC Group on climate change regime. Nepal chaired the Group from 25 November to 12 December and handed over the chairmanship to Angola for 2015 and Democratic Republic of Congo for 2016. This last session was chaired by Ram P. Lamsal, Joint-Secretary at MoSTE and facilitated by Dr. Krishna C. Paudel, Secretary of the Government of Nepal, currently at MoSTE. Nepal showed its exemplary coordinating role in the last session. This recall-based article also focuses on what Nepal did during its chairmanship.
In general, the Chair ensures coordination by liaising with designated thematic coordinators, core team members, advisers, individual country representatives, and other stakeholders and negotiates with other Parties as and when necessary. The Chair organized the strategic meeting in Kathmandu in early 2013 and adopted the LDC Group strategies such as capacity building and utilization, evidence-based research, media and outreach, and working with alliances with the 2015 vision of having inclusive, effective and equitable global agreement that addressed LDC needs and demands under the UNFCCC. During the last 2 years, thematic coordinators and core team members were mobilized; LDC paper series were published; advisors and researchers provided support; LDC Group website was regularly updated; media briefings and press releases were made; and strategic relations were maintained with other negotiating groups such as Africa Group, AOSIS, EU and Latin American countries, including civil society organizations. In addition to core team members, junior and women delegates were supported for participation. The Chair increased media profile through interviews, outreach using Twitter account, and briefing papers.
The Chair formed the 10-member Core Team with members from Bangladesh, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Senegal, Sudan, Togo, Uganda and Zambia to coordinate negotiations in different agenda items. The Chair also got opportunity to select and nominate person(s) to represent LDC Group in Convention bodies such as Adaptation Committee, Standing Committee on Finance, Technology Executive Committee, Green Climate Fund, Adaptation Fund Board, Executive Committee on Loss and Damage and the LDC Expert Group. Principal members were from Bhutan, Burkino Faso, Lesotho, Sudan, Timor Leste, Uganda, and Zambia. The Chair was supported by the UK-based IIED on overall strategic, technical and legal matters, including a dedicated support team and German-based Climate Analytics on scientific analysis of climate change impacts. Senior officials of IIED, Climate Analytics, and ecbi also offered their advices to the Chair. The GoN also formed a support team and opened an office of the LDC Group in MoSTE but it did not work as planned.
During Nepal's tenure, key achievements include allocation of 50 % of the total Green Climate Fund for adaptation, preparation of the technical guidelines on National Adaptation Plan process, establishment of the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage, and maintaining 1.50C target in the AWG on Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP), development of LDC negotiators and timely updates to LDC ministers.
During this chairmanship, Nepal was visible internationally on climate change negotiation process, built partnership with other negotiating blocks, enhanced capacity of few of the government officials on negotiation process, and included one government officer as alternative member of the Adaptation Fund Board and one Nepali as lead coordinator on agenda item – Nairobi Work Programme. It was engaged in organizing 8th Conference of the Community-based Adaptation in April 2014 in Kathmandu.
While securing this position, initial thinking was to provide on-site exposure, orientation and training to at least 10-15 GoN officers, including CNT members on climate change negotiation process, explore opportunities to lead some of the thematic areas, and secure more funding for climate change activities. These all did not work. In a nutshell, few Nepali benefitted from this chairmanship, and Nepal as a whole lost this unique opportunity for developing climate change sector at the country-level.