Science and policy to assist and support SIDSs and LDCs to negotiate a strong international climate regime, enabling low carbon development and supporting adaptation needs.

Project period
September 2011–September 2016

German Federal Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, as part of its International Climate Initiative

Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research



SURVIVE, a joint project between Climate Analytics and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) supports Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in the international climate change negotiations. Working closely with the current chairs of the LDC Group (Angola) and of the Alliance of Small Island States AOSIS (Maldives), it provides up-to-date science and policy analysis in relation to mitigation, adaptation, finance and MRV. The extreme impacts of global warming are likely to hit the world’s poorest countries the hardest. The project aims to assist SIDS and LDC groups in negotiating a strong international climate regime to keep global temperature rise to below 2°C.

SURVIVE works closely with the SIDS and LDCs lead climate negotiation teams. The SURVIVE team supports, where requested, negotiators, high-level officials and experts of SIDS and LDCs with leadership roles in the UNFCCC climate negotiations.

Project objectives

  • Policy and strategic analysis of scientific, mitigation, adaptation and finance issues
  • Support for the development of adaptation and loss and damages mechanisms
  • Strategic and technical input into the 2013-2015 review of the adequacy of the long-term goal
  • Assessment of mitigation actions and gaps, emission pathways consistency and climate targets for 2020
  • Scientific assessment of risks, impacts and policy options relevant to SIDS and LDCs
  • Development of the PRIMAP model (including emissions and regional impacts) to improve its application to strategic scientific and policy questions relevant to SIDS and LDCs
  • Assisting in building enhanced endogenous scientific, policy and strategic analytical capacity
  • Collaboration with climate science and policy related institutions
  • In the longer term, minimisation of the risk of exceeding the maximum manageable climate impact identified by SIDS and LDCs
SURVIVE 2nd Advisory Committee June 2013. Kishan Kumarsingh, former ADP Co-Chair and Head of Multilateral Environmental Agreements Unit, Trinidad and Tobago. ©Photo by Johannes Gütschow

Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are widely recognised as most vulnerable to climate change. These countries are working to negotiate an ambitious, legally binding international agreement on climate change under very difficult circumstances, both nationally and internationally.

The SURVIVE project supports SIDS and LDCs in their goal to establish an international rule-based climate regime which can lead to ambitious emissions reductions sufficient to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and to ensure adequate funding for adaptation and mitigation.

By providing cutting edge strategic, technical, policy, scientific and legal support for negotiators, the project aims to assist and empower SIDS and LDCs to build upon the Cancun Agreements and to negotiate a legally binding international climate agreement under the Durban Platform.

SIDS and LDCs want this new agreement to contain ambitious mitigation targets; to provide a robust institutional architecture for finance, adaptation, loss and damage and MRV; to enable access to technology that meets their objectives and needs; and to be structured and governed in a way that ensures that their interests are fully represented.

Successful negotiation by the SIDS and LDCs will result in more substantial mitigation efforts by major emitters and consequently lower levels of warming, lower adaptation needs, and lower levels of loss and damage, benefitting all. Ensuring adequate finance for mitigation and adaptation will likewise be beneficial for the entire global community.

SURVIVE builds on the positive experience with the PREVENT project (December 2008-August 2011)

The SURVIVE project is closely linked to the High-Level Support Mechanism project.

Challenges for SIDS and LDCs

The Cancun Agreements and 2011 Durban Platform established several major new pathways in the international climate policy architecture, which involve increasingly complex negotiations. SIDS and LDCs are attempting to make use of these new possibilities to protect their interests. Their goal is an international climate architecture which can lead to ambitious emissions reductions sufficient to limit warming a temperature increase of 1.5°C and that can deliver adequate funding for adaptation and mitigation.

The Cancun Agreements in 2010 started a process of reviewing mitigation pledges and the science around the 1.5°C target; of establishing a Green Climate Fund, an Adaptation Framework, an Adaptation Committee and a mechanism for handling loss and damages; of continuing to work to strengthen national institutions, and measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) and international consultation and analysis (ICA) methodologies; and of continuing to work towards a legally binding agreement. Ongoing international negotiations are set to produce a new international agreement by 2015 under the Durban Platform created at the end of 2011. Dealing with this range and complexity of issues is more difficult than ever before, and is particularly challenging for resource stretched groups such as the SIDS and LDCs.

The PRIMAP Online-Tool offers an user-friendly portal to explore the impacts of different emissions scenarios.

PRIMAP model tool

The project utilises the science-synthesis PRIMAP model (Potsdam Real-time Integrated Model for Assessment of Emission Paths) developed by PIK in collaboration with Climate Analytics.
This model can assess the impacts of global GHG emission pathways composed under different mitigation assumptions and equity proposals. Included in the PRIMAP model are:

  1. the PRIMAP Emissions Module, which consists of a comprehensive emissions database and associated analysis tools,
  2. the reduced-complexity climate model MAGICC, which produces highly efficient probabilistic global mean temperature projections of those emission scenarios,
  3. the EXPACT model which, provides comprehensive climate risk assessments and probabilistic projections of climate impacts, such as regional sea level rise and coral bleaching in terms of global mean temperature change.