By Augustin Dagbetin, Charlie Bevis, JP Arellano, Megan Corsano, Nadja Filina, Nikola Baumschlager, Tolulope Gbenro
As COP27 begins to fade away from memory, it’s important to reflect and note down some of the significant achievements that came out of the conference and to set our eyes on the upcoming COP28. Our climate will not wait for more conferences but there will be many important developments and events throughout 2023 that may lead us closer to the 1.5 degree Paris goal. Read on to know more.
Youth developments at COP27
COP27 was described as inclusive for young people following the introduction of the Children and Youth Pavilion. It has also been popularly referred to as the African COP with over 200 young Africans participating in the African youth session which featured a range of innovative solutions . However, some might argue that it was not inclusive enough. This is due to the struggles young people faced in accessing funding and accreditation badges for the conference. Restless Development, a youth civil society group, launched the #MissingMajority challenge to ensure that the voices of young people who were absent from the conference were heard during the negotiations .
The first ever official youth representative, Omnia El Omrani, fought for the inclusion of young people’s voices. The launch of a climate youth negotiator program aims to empower young climate activists from the Global South, at the inaugural youth climate forum. Young people also became official stakeholders under the Action for Climate Empowerment plan. This means that they have more seats at the table to be actively involved in policy making . After a long decade of pressure from climate vulnerable countries, an agreement was finally reached to fund loss and damage. Whilst this good news calls for celebration, it also raises questions around accountability, sustainability, management of the funds and the annual $100 billion fund that was pledged by developed countries but never achieved .
Since the conclusion of COP27, NGO’s and CSO’s have organised post-COP27 discussions aimed at educating the public and young people on climate change in Nigeria . Some events even feature the streaming of the movie “Don’t look up” .
What we hope to see from youth at COP28
The Conference of the Parties often attracts controversy, however the announcement of his Excellency Dr Sultan Al Jaber who is the Head of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) as the President of the United Nations Climate Conference has continued to cause a stir online . Some might argue that his role at ADNOC and as the founder of Masdar (a global leading energy company) will help with the energy transition. Regardless, there are justifiable concerns that ADNOC will hinder the “phasing out of fossil fuels” .
During COP28, we want to see greater inclusion of the youth at the negotiations with procedures that aid the logistics around accreditation and funding. Further developments on loss and damage finance to address sustainability and accountability are also expected as well as energy transition and gender mainstreaming in climate policies.
Major outcomes on agriculture at COP27
The last COP in Sharm el Sheikh achieved a very important milestone through its inclusion of agrifood systems as a central topic for the first time. COP27 also hosted the first food-systems pavilion and the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) was actively engaged and highly visible. There was also a launch of three initiatives (discussed below) that the FAO was part of and in which food plays a vital role .
Firstly – the Food and Agriculture for Sustainable Transformation Initiative (FAST) aims to fund the transformation of agrifood systems to make them more resilient, sustainable and productive. It aims to support climate action in agrifood systems through access to finance and investment, knowledge and capacity development and policy support and dialogue .
Secondly – the Initiative on Climate Action and Nutrition (I-CAN) aims to support states in the implementation of policies that foster healthy diets from a sustainable food system .
Thirdly – Action for Water Adaptation and Resilience (AWARe) aims to improve the management of water for climate adaptation and resilience .
These initiatives are critical because although agrifood systems play a large part in ecosystem degradation, biodiversity loss and the climate crisis more broadly, they are also an integral part of the solution . COP27 was a major step forward in its recognition of this fact and the urgent changes needed in this sector were at the heart of many discussions. We are definitely moving in the right direction but there is still a long way to go to really ensure food system discussions remain an important part of the negotiations.
Agriculture development hopes for COP28
Given that discussions around food systems were highly visible at COP27, hopes are high that this will act as an impetus for more ambitious action on food systems and push it further up the agenda at future COPs. Let’s hope that this year’s COP will truly be a Food COP.
The role of gender at COP27
In terms of the gender-related issues of climate change, COP27 did not result in any breakthroughs in commitments or decisions. The complex and cross-cutting issue of women’s role as agents of climate protection has not been addressed by policy-makers (among whom women were underrepresented in delegations), but instead by participating civil society stakeholders and activists .
The Sharm-El-Sheikh Implementation Plan (COP27 outcome document) encouraged “gender-responsive implementation and means of implementation, including by fully implementing the Lima work programme on gender and its gender action plan” . The Lima work programme on gender (LWPG) forms the core UN gender-based response framework to the climate crisis. As part of this programme, states commit to developing and implementing gender action plans. Support for developing countries in the implementation of these gender plans was also emphasised in the final document . The next LWPG review takes place in 2024, leaving states less than two years to make progress on their plans. Thus, in the next few years it should be a primary objective of national policy-making bodies as well as international governance frameworks to deliver measures to support women worldwide in the climate crisis response.
The outlook of gender for COP28
There is no lack of vision or concrete suggestions for gender equality in climate policies. Among the many proposals put forward by UN Women at COP27 was the introduction of special measures and quotas to increase women’s equal participation at all levels of decision making, especially women from poor and marginalized communities. These are just two among many proposals which the upcoming COP28 Presidency should push for.
Major outcomes of COP27 in the water sector
The COP 27 Presidency launched The Action on Water Adaptation and Resilience (AWARe) initiative which aims to place water at the forefront of adaptation and resilience action by providing transitional adaptation solutions for the earth and people, beginning with Africa’s most vulnerable populations and ecosystems .
The initiative is arranged across three main priorities:
- Reduce water loss and improve water supply globally;
- Propose and support mutually agreed-upon policy and methods for cooperative water-related adaptation action and its co-benefits; and
- Promote cooperation and interlinkages between water and climate action in order to achieve Agenda 2030, specifically SDG6.
The initiative originated from a collaboration between various stakeholders including the African Union (AU), Water and Climate Coalition Leaders, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) among others . Other interested parties are given the opportunity to join. Considering that the issue of water has not been in the spotlight at previous COPs, we believe the AWARe initiative is nothing short of a breakthrough for the UN climate talks. However, stakeholders need to leverage delivery mechanisms such as finance, technology and capacity building to ensure the Action on Water Adaptation and Resilience is successfully carried out.
Water at COP28
The COP27 summit in Sharm El-Sheikh rounded off with the establishment of the Loss and Damage Fund for climate vulnerable countries, which is considered by many as the highlight of the summit . On the one hand, the approach is commendable since loss and damage will continue to affect vulnerable communities the most. On the other hand, helping vulnerable communities deal with loss and damage particularly as it relates to water can be difficult if not unfeasible in certain circumstances. For instance, how do we account for non-economic damage such as climate-induced water body pollution, long dry spells and loss of life due to floods?
Climate change is in large part a water crisis as its impacts are felt through worsening floods, rising sea levels, shrinking ice fields, wildfires and droughts. In order to protect water resources from the impacts of climate change, we expect discussions at COP28 to elaborate on and push for firmer measures regarding the phasing out of fossil fuels. Such action is critical if we are to meet the Paris Agreement temperature goal of no more than 1.5 degree of warming.
Solutions day at COP27
Solutions Day at the COP27 climate conference focused on sharing best practices and technology for the decarbonisation of national budgets, transport systems and urban planning. The final agreement was titled the Sharm El-Sheikh Implementation Plan and featured a large emphasis on finance, in particular how to finance climate adaptation for lower-income countries and how to finance the production of green technology that the energy transition inevitably requires.
The Implementation Plan stipulates that at least $4 trillion should be invested each year – a tall order considering that previous commitments by developed countries to mobilise $100 billion annually for climate finance are still yet to be fulfilled . The final agreement at COP27 also included the establishment of a Loss and Damage Fund – the key item at the top of many activists’ and Global South governments’ agendas for the conference. The fund is intended to provide financial assistance to countries experiencing the worst damage from climate change. It was a topic of significant contention throughout the conference with wealthy countries very hesitant to admit too much responsibility and the rest of the world frustrated at these states’ unwillingness to step up their assistance. The final text of the agreement did include the establishment of the fund but did not include a decision on who should pay into it or who could benefit from it . Now that the fund has been established, we expect its execution to be a big part of the negotiations at COP28 in Dubai.
Besides finance, the solutions shared on this day of the conference emphasised green technology and sustainable urban planning. Since the end of COP27, the European Union has made progress towards the scale up of green technology production capacity as evidenced through its Green Deal Industrial Plan which was released in February. The plan includes a range of pathways for increasing the EU’s manufacturing capacity by ramping up access to raw materials and offering eligible producers faster access to funding. . While the plan is a hopeful early-stage attempt to scale up sustainable transport and urban planning technology, the EU will need to put such a plan into action if it hopes to reap the benefits of clean tech solutions within the necessary timeframe.
What does this mean for solutions at COP28?
In addition to focusing on executing the Loss and Damage Fund, leaders will be expected to provide an update on progress made toward the $4 trillion in financing needed to execute the Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan . Discussions of emerging tech is an important part of the energy transition but it is crucial that funding for adequate mitigation and adaptation measures for countries most affected by climate change remains a priority as well.
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