EU-Asia Dialogue: Climate Change Diplomacy

Within the topic of climate change, the focus will be on climate change diplomacy and the current strategies of key countries in the negotiations which are primarily driven by singular national interest. The climate change diplomacy research will be extended to elaborate country studies highlighting common, trans-national grounds and practices for the EU and Asia. Cross-regional opportunities to achieve a breakthrough in the next round of climate change talks will be examined and the gap between developed and developing countries on this issue shall be narrowed.

The cluster on the climate change diplomacy started with an international workshop on April 18-19, 2012, in Kuala Lumpur / Malaysia. This dialogue was a first chance for exchange of information and knowledge between policymakers and researchers from various countries in Asia and Europe. After this first workshop there will be a research period of eleven month. At the end of this period the results will be made available as working papers on this website. Additionally, the papers together with concrete policy recommendations will be published as a book.

In 2013 and 2014 four policy dialogues took place in Europe and Asia. These aimed at bringing the two target groups to the same table, so that policymakers and researchers could profit from one another’s extensive and specialized knowledge. This allowed to shape the policy making process and in addition researchers could deepen their understanding of policy needs and priorities. In the course of these meetings, current developments in climate change negotiations were discussed and synergies between the two continents found.

Coinciding with these policy dialogues, a series of 5 decentralized briefings was initiated. During these decentralized briefings the research results and policy recommendations were presented on a localized level, providing also a space for discussion between local policymakers and researchers.

At the end of the third project year, an activity repot was prepared, reviewing the process of the policy dialogues and making recommendations for the organization and institutionalization of future policy dialogues.

Workshop in Kuala Lumpur / Malaysia, April 18-19, 2012

The first workshop of the cluster “Climate Change Diplomacy – Prospects for Regional and Global Agreements” took place in Kuala Lumpur / Malaysia on April 18-19, 2012. Altogether, 15 people participated in this first closed brainstorming workshop. Among others, representatives from the European Commission Directorate-General Climate Action, the Delegation of the European Union to Malaysia, the British High Commission in Malaysia, the Climate Change Commission of the Philippines, the British Grantham Institute for Climate Change, E3G and the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore attended this event. Due to this high level of participants, the discussions were very fruitful and detailed. The researchers and policymakers from Asia and Europe brought in various perspectives on the topic. Thus, the group was able to identify areas for common action and topics the “EU-Asia Dialogue” could focus on. Besides individual studies on the diplomatic strategies of key countries, the role of non-state actors in the negotiations, the influence of bilateral initiatives and the EU`s as well as ASEAN`s perspective on the international negotiations shall be further examined.

Policy Conference in Bonn / Germany, April 25-26, 2013

The second event on Climate Change Diplomacy took place on April 25-26, 2013, in Bonn, Germany. The Policy Dialogue “Resolving Deadlock in Climate Change Negotiations” gathered 21 experts from ministries, civil-society organizations and research institutes. Represented organizations included UNFCCC, European Commission DG CLIMA, EEAS, ASEAN Secretariat, UNEP Asia and Pacific, German Federal Foreign Office, Malaysian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, ECODEV Myanmar, Germanwatch, and researchers from Belgium, Germany, India, Japan, People´s Republic of China, and United Kingdom. The discussions clearly showed that there is no deadlock in the negotiations, but that there are many obstacles still to be overcome. The recent developments and achievements, such as the Green Climate Fund or the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, were discussed. Another focus point was the involvement of non-state actors and the role of bilateral cooperation to complement the multilateral track. Finally, the potential for a close cooperation between the EU and ASEAN was analyzed.

Policy Conference in Beijing / China, October 21, 2013

On 21 October, 2013, the EU-Asia Dialogue, in cooperation with the Center for Industrial Development and Environmental Governance (CIDEG) of the Tsinghua University Beijing, organized a conference on “Europe-Asia Cooperation on Climate Change Negotiations” in Beijing, People’s Republic of China. Guest of honor was Mr. Su Wei, Director-General of the Department of Climate Change in the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and Chief Climate Negotiator of the People’s Republic of China. Three additional current and former negotiators spoke as well. In total, 30 people participated in this conference. They represented, among others, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Malaysia, Oficina Espanola de Cambio Climatico, European External Action Service, Ministry of Natural Resources & Environment Thailand, European Centre for Climate and Environment, Energy Research Institutes of NDRC, Climate Policy Institute of Tsinghua University, European Climate Foundation, GIZ, Tohoku University, WALHI Indonesia, WWF, UNEP, and PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency. The conferences addressed current issues with regard to the negotiations such as the possible way forward after the CoP in Warsaw and Europe-Asia cooperation on finance. Additionally, the implementation of international agreements and domestic initiatives in selected European and Asian countries were analyzed.

Policy Panel in Brussels / Belgium, December , 2013 On 5 December, 2013, the EU-Asia Dialogue held a public policy panel on "The world after Warsaw - What prospects for achieving a global climate agreement by 2015?". The four distinguished speakers were Artur Runge-Metzer - Director for International and Climate Strategy in the Directorate General for Climate Action at the European Commission -, Run Wang - Professor at the Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences -, Abetnego Tarigan -Director of WALHI-Friends of the Earth Indonesia -, and Delia Villagrasa - Senior Advisor on Climate Change Diplomacy at the European Climate Change Foundation. It was underlined that the CoP in Warsaw was not such a failure as it is widely perceived, but that important steps towards the 2015 agreement were taken. The speakers evaluated the outcomes from the perspective of their respective countries and organizations.

Policy Dialogue in Yangon / Myanmar, September 4-5, 2014

A landmark conference took place on 4-5 September in Yangon, Myanmar to enhance discussions between European and Asian partners on “Climate Diplomacy and Urban Resilience”. The dialogue was organised by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung’s Regional Programme Political Dialogue with Asia (KAS) in cooperation with UN-Habitat and was part of the EU-Asia Dialogue, which is funded by the European Union and Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung. In total, 97 people from 20 countries attended the conference. The event aimed to lay the foundation for strengthening regional and local voices, enhancing cooperation and articulating priorities to shape the new climate agreement in Paris 2015 as well as the ‘new urban agenda’ and establish linkages between climate negotiators and local governance units.

The conference was inaugurated by dignitaries from the Myanmar Government. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs U Thant Kyaw, warmly welcomed international partners and participants and stated that “Myanmar is striving to meet reporting requirements to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change”. The Deputy Minister continued by saying “experience from other countries indicates that there may be undesirable patterns of urban growth in the long run if there are weaknesses in decision-making by urban authorities during urbanization and urban development processes.”

In her inaugural address the Deputy Minister of Environmental Conservation and Forestry, Dr. Daw Thet Thet Zin, applauded the newly signed Memorandum of Understanding between United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry (MOECAF), marking the start of joint collaborations between these agencies in Myanmar and added that Myanmar is paying “great attention in addressing environmental problems including climate change adaptation and mitigation. Myanmar recognises the need to have harmony and balance between economic development and environmental sustainability”.

In his keynote remarks, Dr. Nay Htun, Research Professor at Stonybrook University and former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, highlighted the importance of climate diplomacy by saying “Innovative mechanisms and processes need to be mobilized to connect climate science; damage costs, societal benefits, in particular health and well being; and human security at national levels”.

Dr. Wilhelm Hofmeister, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Singapore, underlined that “crucial achievements have been made in the field of climate diplomacy, but that several key challenges remain. For instance, financing and implementation are still to be agreed upon before drafting an agreement for Paris 2015. In this context, the incorporation of cities in the discussion needs to be improved”. Meanwhile, Ms. Mariko Sato, UN-Habitat’s Bangkok Office Chief said “it is no coincidence that climate change has become a leading international development issue precisely at the time the world has become predominantly urban. Achieving sustainable urbanization will be the key to adapt and mitigate climate changes and enhance urban resilience.

The key outcome of the conference is a call for greater co-operation. In support of this, Isabel Faria De Almeida, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said “Climate change has been an issue at the forefront of cooperation for many years and the EU has made an unconditional commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020”, while noting that “it is important to decentralize urbanization from mega cities and support smaller urban centres that have lower capacity in terms of human resources and finances” which is the focus of the EU-ASEAN new cooperation programme on environmentally sustainable cities.

Particular challenges highlighted at the dialogue include promoting active climate change collaboration between local governments to enhance policy dialogue on mainstreaming climate change into urban development; supporting local governments in developing climate change action plans and fostering awareness, education, and capacity-building that supports the implementation of actions that mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Additional speakers represented the European External Action Service, Polish, Vietnamese and Italian Ministry of the Environment, the Climate Change Commission of the Philippines, National Development and Reform Commission China, OECD, Climate Change Council Nepal, City of London as well as Iloilo and the Association of the Indonesian Municipalities, among others.

The deliberations of the Euro-Asia Dialogue on Climate Diplomacy and Urban Resilience are also one of the preparatory inputs to Habitat III, which will take place in 2016, assisting in building confidence and optimism in the initial stages of constructing a new climate change agreement and the post 2015 sustainable development agenda.

Contact person

Patrick Rüppel

Senior Programme Manager for Foreign and Security Policy, Geopolitics

Patrick Rüppel
Phone +65 6603 6166
Fax +65 6227 8343
Languages: Deutsch,‎ English