UNFCCC’s Conference of the Parties & Non-state Actors II: Impact of Non-state Actors

by Amy Wilson

There is evidence to suggest non-state actors are coming together through international cooperative initiatives [1]. The United Nations Environment Emissions Gap Report in 2018 found that many non-state actors are engaging in climate change mitigation action with increasing ambitions. However, the current impact is still low [1]. The report suggests that if international cooperative initiatives are scaled up, the impact from non-state actors could be significant in reducing carbon emissions and be important for keeping further global warming below 2 °C [1]. Additionally, non-state actors provide the space for experimentation and can assist governments with the implementation of climate policy, but should report more frequently to enhance transparency [1]. 

There is also room for greater non-Party stakeholder engagement with the Paris Agreement rulebook, climate policy, and inclusion in COP negotiations. For example, observers cannot attend some UNFCCC Paris Agreement Working Groups and often summary documents from such workshops do not include how non-state actors can contribute; technical and country expertise therefore may be lost [2]. Observer organisations such as the Global CSS institute, have previously called for non-state actors to have access to draft UNFCCC documents, web-based versions of discussions in rooms not allow for large audiences, and for Parties to include non-Party stakeholders in the implementation stage of climate policy [3].

The High-Level Champions have taken these points into account and are now developing a work programme for each COP cycle to enhance non-Party stakeholder engagement with Parties and COP [4]. Strategic engagement of non-Party stakeholders for COP26 includes Marrakech Partnership activities (opportunity to showcase cooperative initiatives), technical expert meetings (before COP26 on specific topics), the Global Climate Action Portal (online platform to record ambitious work by cafes, businesses, subnational regions and investors) and the Yearbook on Global Climate Action [4]. 


[1] United Nations Environmental Programme, (2018), Bridging the emissions gap – The role of non-state and subnational actors, URL: https://www.unep.org/resources/report/bridging-emissions-gap-role-non-state-and-subnational-actors, (last accessed 31/08/21)
[2] SDG Knowledge Hub, (2017), Promoting Public Participation to Make the Paris Agreement Work, URL: https://sdg.iisd.org/commentary/guest-articles/promoting-public-participation-to-make-the-paris-agreement-work/ (last accessed 08/09/21)
[3] Global CSS Institute, (2017), APPENDIX 1 NON-PARTY STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT IN THE UNFCCC, URL: https://unfccc.int/files/parties_observers/submissions_from_observers/application/pdf/814.pdf (last accessed 08/09/21)
[4] UNFCCC, (2020), Letter to Parties and Non-Party Stakeholders from High-Level Champions of Global Climate Action, https://newsroom.unfccc.int/sites/default/files/resource/HLC_letter_to_Parties_NPS_feedback2020.pdf (last accessed 08/09/21)
Categories COP26

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