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IPCC 34 Focuses on Workstreams, Accepts SREX Summary

The view from the aisle during the opening of the session, with IPCC Chair Rajendra Pachauri addressing the plenary.19 November 2011: The 34th session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) focused primarily on the workstreams resulting from the consideration of the InterAcademy Council (IAC) Review of the IPCC processes and procedures, namely those on procedures, conflict of interest policy, and communications strategy.

The session, which  took place from 18-19 November 2011, in Kampala, Uganda, was attended by over 200 participants, including representatives from governments, UN agencies, and intergovernmental and observer organizations.

The Panel adopted the revised Procedures for the Preparation, Review, Acceptance, Adoption, Approval and Publication of IPCC Reports, as well as the Implementation Procedures and Disclosure Form for the Conflict of Interest Policy. Delegates also addressed issues such as the programme and budget, matters related to other international bodies, and progress reports.

The Panel formally accepted the Summary for Policy Makers (SPM) of the Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX) approved by Working Groups I and II at their joint meeting held from 14-17 November 2011 at the same venue.

Throughout the meeting, participants welcomed the SREX, noting that the report: introduces terminology to be understood both by the risk management and the climate change communities; identifies a range of practices and options to reduce risk; and provides clarity on what the most vulnerable sectors, groups and areas are, making it of tremendous use for taking appropriate actions.

The completion of the conflict of interest (COI) policy and of revised procedures constitutes an important result of the meeting. Delegates developed principles for considering COI issues, introducing those in relation to exploring options for resolution of COI and an appeals procedure. They added a provision requiring members of bodies involved in considering COI issues to recuse themselves from a discussion on their own COI. Most notably for the Kampala meeting, agreement on the Implementation Procedures for the COI, to be effective as soon as possible, allows for operationalizing the Policy developed at the previous IPCC session. Implementation of the new comprehensive COI Policy will contribute to increased integrity and transparency of the IPCC process, which should in turn strengthen the credibility of the Panel's findings.

The meeting provided limited progress on the IPCC communications strategy, with many countries expressing frustration at the lack of appointment of a full time communications specialist. Consultant Charlie Methven elaborated on the main points of the proposed strategy. Highlighting the unique challenges the IPCC faces, he underlined that the future communications system should be a resource rather than a typical corporate structure. At the same time, he said, it should provide a central communication function and a stronger link between various elements of the IPCC, including Working Groups and their Technical Support Units. Noting the already existing ad hoc support on communications across Working Groups, Methven underlined that these practices should be incorporated to make for a more accountable and coherent structure. He also mentioned that the proposed strategy is achievable within the current level of funding. Participants discussed the roles of governments in the communications strategy. Countries agreed to circulate the new draft strategy prior to the next IPCC session. [IISD RS Coverage of IPCC 34] [IPCC 34th Session Website] [Climate Change Policy & Practice Story on the Approval of SREX]