Remarks by Senior Minister S Jayakumar on MRV and ICA at the Major Economies Forum, Rome
1. The question of MRV is an important one for all of us. We have embarked on an exercise to deal with climate change where all countries have to undertake commitments to reduce carbon emissions. This means that what we are undertaking individually and collectively is more than a non-binding commitment, the implementation of which is dependent on good faith alone. What we are undertaking comes with the expectation that whoever commits to an undertaking will indeed implement their commitments as pledged.
2. Two conclusions flow from this. First, each one of us, without intruding into the others’ sovereignty must have a reasonable assurance that others are implementing their pledged measures. Second, there must be some MRV regime or mechanism that is sufficiently rigorous to ensure that all countries will do what they pledge.
3. An ICA system has to be seen in the larger context of an MRV regime. If we properly design an ICA system, it can create transparency in the implementation of domestic actions. But transparency is not an end in itself. It is a means to monitor the implementation of our individual and collective actions. So, designing a good ICA system is key not only to create confidence but also to ensure that we are reaching our collective goals to address climate change.
4. The concept of ICA is not new and various models exist. In the human rights field where there is a system of universal periodic review. There are also similar systems of monitoring and review in the IAEA and the WTO.
5. In designing an effective ICA system, we have to ensure that it is based on sound guiding principles. There are five which I believe are important:
Number One: there must be universal application of any ICA process.
Number Two: the ICA must be a party-driven process. The participation of external experts and stakeholders may be necessary but the ultimate aim is to encourage a dialogue between parties.
Number Three: the ICA must fully respect national sovereignty. It must not become intrusive or inquisitorial. The confidentiality of information provided, especially commercially sensitive information, must be protected and respected.
Number Four: the ICA must be designed as a technical exercise. It should not become a political or politicised process.
Number Five: the ICA process must be conducted in a spirit of mutual respect aimed at promoting better understanding and information sharing on the policies and priorities of Parties.
6. Let me elaborate on the principle of universal application. I am aware that the ICA is mentioned only in the context of non-Annex I Parties’ mitigation actions in the Copenhagen Accord. But there is no reason why any ICA process should be confined to just the developing countries.
7. I am aware that Annex I parties already undergo regular technical analysis and in-depth expert reviews. So, there is greater transparency about their actions. But the new element that we are creating is “international consultations”. The “IC” in ICA does not really exist for developed parties. Hence the need for universal application. Of course, exceptions can be made for LDCs and SIDS, and their participation can be made voluntary. But the basic rule is one of universality. In the long- term, universal application of the ICA is essential for the effectiveness and credibility of the process.
8. If there is agreement on the basic objectives and principles of ICA, it should be easier to operationalise the ICA process. In this regard, I would like to identify five elements for an effective ICA process:
9. First, the scope of consultations should be the content of the Nat Comms and any progress report submitted by Parties. A common template for Nat Comms and progress reports may be useful. For both the progress report and the ICA, we must avoid a focus which is entirely on mitigation. While this will be an important focus, it cannot become the only focus because for some developing countries, especially SIDS, adaptation is the primary issue of concern.
10. Second, is the issue of frequency. Our view is that every country must be on the same time scale for consultations. The exact sequence of consultations can be decided separately. If we adhere to the principle of universal application, we have to complete a full cycle before we begin the second consultation for any party.
11. Third, on modalities, I think it would be useful for all countries to establish an ICA focal point. This will create an international network of focal points enabling all relevant persons and entities to be in contact prior to the consultations exercise. This will not only encourage efficient communication, it would also encourage a dialogue among parties on the key issues.
12. Fourth, and still on modalities, it is important to enable written questions to be put to the Party concerned prior to its scheduled ‘consultations’. This would not preclude questions from the floor during the consultations itself, but written questions would help enable a considered response from the Party concerned. We should also bear in mind that questions are meant to elicit information and clarification. Advance written questions would thus enable the Party concerned to initiate its interagency process early so as to best clarify doubts and provide the most valuable insight during the consultations itself.
13. Finally a word on funding. We should remember that an underlying aim of this exercise is to enable developing countries to implement their commitments under the Convention. We must thus ensure that it does not become unnecessarily onerous on them. We foresee the need to have a system that would advise and provide help for developing countries prepare for their consultations.
Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs