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UNDP speaks with Deputy Minister of Environment for reflection on Armenia's NAP

Photo credit: UNDP
August 2019 - Climate change in Armenia is no new phenomenon. Between 1998 and 2010, weather-related hazards caused losses of USD 2.8 billion, averaging USD 450 million per year. 
The rural and low-income communities often bear the brunt of these lossess and feel climate change impacts most accutley, because they have limited resources to insulate themselves from damages and a greater dependence on agriculture and natural ecosystems, which again are most at risk from the climate. Inequalities in income generation opportunities and a lack of political enfranchisement often exacerbate these communities' vulnerability. 
Unfortunately, these socio-economic dynamics are not scarce in Armenia, where over 50 percent of the population live under the national poverty line. Therefore, it is essential to strengthen institutional frameworks, develop technical capacities and build a robust evidence base to scale up appropriate climate change adaptation measures, to improve the resilience of communities. Through the development of a long-term plan that protects assets and infrastructure from climate shocks, resilience can be acheived. And the National Adaptation Plan aims to do just that.
Following the launch of the ‘National Adaptation Plan to advance medium-and long-term adaptation planning in Armenia’ - a project funded by the Green Climate Fund (GCF) - we caught up with Ms. Irina Ghaplanyan, the Deputy Minister of Environment. Ms. Ghaplanyan is a prominent leader of climate action and we wanted to ask a few questions on the challenges and opportunities facing her country. 
Is climate change already a reality in the Armenian people? 
Yes. Armenia is already experiencing rising temperatures with hotter, drier summers and a decrease in precipitation - particularly snow, which is specifically impacting river flows and the agricultural sector. 
From 2000 through 2005, Armenia suffered USD 107 million in economic losses in the agricultural sector due to drought, frost and floods. We expect these trends to continue and for crop yields to reduce further as temperatures, and stress on water rises.
Our urban areas are also expected to experience more flash floods and landslides, as well as increased temperatures in the summer, meaning health impacts such as heat stress and cardiovascular disease. 
The report produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in October 2018 projects a bleak future us, unless the necessary collective action is taken. If we do allow temperatures to rise above 1.5ºC, how is Armenia preparing for a planet this warm? 
Armenia’s plans to adapt to the consequences of global warming began in 2016 through a National Adaptation Plan process, which is a key step in achieving the adaptation objectives of the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) it submitted as part of the Paris Agreement in 2015. Ministries of Environment, Emergency Situations, Territorial Administration and Infrastructures, Economy, educational institutions and other local and international organizations, as well as NGOs in close partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), play an important role in the realization of adaptation goals. 
By undertaking this process, we are laying the foundations to create a strong base of evidence about our past and current vulnerabilities and weak spots, so we know where to focus our adaptation activities. This is critical to informing medium and long-term adaptation planning. 
In addition, we have initiated adaptation projects to strengthen sustainable natural resource management, including forestry, biodiversity, water, and agriculture. Over the recent years, with UNDP’s assistance, we implemented several projects – funded by the European Union and the Global Environment Facility – piloting better preparedness to wildfires and improved pasture and forest management. Particularly, the Ministry of Environment managed to secure USD 4 million from the Adaptation Fund for “Artik city closed stone pit waste and flood management” and “Strengthening land-based adaptation capacity in communities adjacent to protected areas in Armenia” projects. 
Why is the government prioritising climate change adaptation and seeing it as so important? 
In a nutshell, because the effects of climate change will have an impact on the growth of our economy, particularly on the agricultural sector.
Some signs indicate this is already happening. The impacts on land degradation, crop yields, irrigation water shortage, and changes in our ecosystems are evident. This data is informing a strong case for an ecosystem-based approach that gives preference to balanced and combined actions to address mitigation and adaptation. 
Through our adaptation planning process, we have therefore prioritised the most vulnerable sectors to climate change: natural ecosystems, water, agriculture, human health, energy, human settlements and infrastructure, and also tourism.
Mainstreaming climate change adaptation into development planning at national and local levels is crucial for Armenia’s economy and natural ecosystems. With the development of a national adaptation planning process, Armenia will lay the groundwork for building an adaptive capacity and a resilient growth in its key sectors. Through close collaboration with partners and businesses, these efforts are paving the way towards achieving Armenia’s NDC and its broader climate and development goals.

About the Green Climate Fund

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is a global fund created to support the efforts of developing countries to respond to the challenge of climate change. GCF helps developing countries limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change. It seeks to promote a paradigm shift to low-emission and climate-resilient development, taking into account the needs of nations that are particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts.

About the United Nations Development Programme

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in nearly 170 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations.