The UN climate summit in Katowice, Poland features a grand sideshow, with all sorts of groups making presentations to whoever shows up. Some countries and groups even have permanent pavilions.
A lot of these shows are put on by what might be termed “fellow travelers.” These are groups with no clear connection to what the UN calls “climate action,” but who can say they shouldn’t get some of the money ? Who can resist a slice of the trillion dollar climate finance pie?
Here are just a few examples, to give you the flavor of the wishes. These are the official announcements of the panel presentations.
Maximizing Support for Indigenous Peoples’ Adaptation and Mitigation Efforts: GCF & Climate Finance
Presented by Tebtebba and Centro de Culturas Indígenas del Perú (CHIRAPAQ)
This event explored how the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and other climate finance can support the rights of indigenous peoples as well as their own mitigation and adaptation efforts, including through the implementation of the GCFs Indigenous Peoples Policy. It was moderated by Helen Magata, Tebtebba.
Kimaren Ole Riamit, Executive Director, Indigenous Livelihoods Enhancement Partners, Kenya (ILEPA), highlighted the negative impacts that climate action, including the deployment of renewable energy, can have on indigenous peoples if not properly safeguarded. He also noted that climate finance modalities remain inhibitive for indigenous peoples and called for the creation of a dedicated GCF access window with simplified modalities for indigenous climate action.
Lifeng Li, GCF, presented the GCFs Indigenous Peoples Policy, noting that it centers around the concept of free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) and was developed through extensive stakeholder consultations. He explained that the GCF is currently developing implementation guidelines for the policy, appointing an indigenous peoples specialist, and establishing an indigenous peoples advisory group.
Tarcila Rivera Zea, Executive Director, CHIRAPAQ, underlined the need for capacity building to help indigenous people better access climate finance. She called for the GCF to provide as much training and support to indigenous communities and organizations as it does to states. She also emphasized the need for climate finance to help develop initiatives that come from indigenous communities themselves, noting the difficulties they face competing for funds with larger, outside organizations that have greater technical expertise.
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous People, highlighted that the GCFs Indigenous Peoples Policy is stronger than that of other multilateral financial institutions but underscored that the critical challenge is ensuring it is fully implemented. She called for indigenous communities to become actively engaged in the GCF to ensure their voices are heard in relation to all project proposals. She also emphasized that respecting and involving indigenous peoples, who possess a wealth of knowledge about their local ecosystems, is in governments self-interest.
In the ensuing discussion, participants discussed: how non-compliance with the GCF Indigenous Peoples Policy could be addressed, including through the GCFs grievance mechanism or sanctions; the need to fight racist and discriminatory ideologies among policymakers and in education systems that perpetuate them; and ensuring GCF policies and project proposals are translated into languages that are accessible for indigenous peoples.
Raymond de Chavez, Tebtebba
Building Capacity for Integrating Human Rights into Climate Action
Presented by the Paris Committee on Capacity Building, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and the Mary Robinson Foundation Climate Justice
This panel discussed the importance of integrating human rights into the implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Moderators Jennifer Hana, Paris Committee on Capacity Building (PCCB), and Benjamin Schachter, OHCHR, opened by underlining the need to address capacity gaps in integrating gender, human rights, and indigenous peoples knowledge into national plans and the international climate regime.
Via video link, Tara Shine, Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, emphasized that integrating human rights into climate action can inform mitigation and adaptation activities, while not integrating will likely increase costs and undermine human rights. She highlighted a proposal to establish a human rights focal point in the climate regime to help mainstream these efforts.
Amb Luis Alfonso de Alba, UN Secretary Generals Special Envoy for the 2019 Climate Summit, lamented climate conference delegates’ lack of knowledge concerning human rights. He called on participants to build a specific strategy to integrate human rights into the 2019 Climate Summit so that the quality of Parties commitments can increase, avoiding a summit which would be just an excuse for a speech and a photograph.
Verona Collantes, UN Women, shared the lessons of her organizations Gender Action Plan. She explained that the strategy for the Plans implementation was to be extremely specific regarding who was concerned, what should be created or changed, and when the deliverables were expected. She stressed that capacity building, especially for NDCs, is not a one-off activity but something that must be sustained.
Michael Windfuhr, German Institute for Human Rights, argued that there is not enough systematic training in human rights spheres about climate change. He proposed that national climate policies must be based on human rights if states wish to successfully and justly implement the Paris Agreement.
Agnes Leina, Illaramatak Community Concerns, decried the fact that human rights have largely been ignored within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Describing examples of renewable energy developments which have displaced indigenous communities, she framed the urgent need for capacity-building within states by suggesting that National Adaptation Plans should contain gender and indigenous components.
Sébastien Duyck, CIEL, welcomed the recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), recognizing that it cements the importance of human rights in climate action. He argued that populations must feel ownership of the NDCs at the local, regional, and national levels, and recommended that countries be forthcoming with their needs and experiences to help replicate climate action victories.
Participants then discussed limits of the UNFCCC and UNHCR frameworks, and the possible need for a new institution to deal with climate-related internally displaced populations. Panelists emphasized the need to understand that national policies must build adaptation within a human rights framework, lest those adaptations be doomed to fail from the outset.
Getting to the Point: The Relevance of Wetland Ecosystems for Increasing NDC Ambition
Presented by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
The side event highlighted the relevance of wetland ecosystems for both climate change adaptation and mitigation, while addressing their importance for increasing Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) ambition and the question of how NDCs can be improved. John Matthews, AGWA, moderated the event.
Paul Mafabi, Ministry of Water and Environment, Uganda, stressed, via video message, that wetlands constitute the Earths most effective carbon sink and have a great potential for climate mitigation. He underscored that drained peatlands, by storing twice as much carbon as the worlds forests, are responsible for 5% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and identified the need for awareness-raising on the importance of wetlands in Uganda and their consideration in the NDCs.
Frank Fass-Metz, BMZ, underlined that 25% of BMZs adaptation portfolio is dedicated to water-related issues, with a special focus on mangrove coastal ecosystems. He highlighted that BMZs work on promoting water security is guided by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement, and the Ramsar Convention. He stressed the need to protect wetlands in order to safeguard the well-being of the millions of people dependent on them.
Arthur Neher, Wetlands International, noted that countries need to address the issue of peatland drainage due to the high GHG emissions associated with this practice, and stressed the need to include peatlands in NDCs, calling them a low hanging fruit.
Lisa Schindler Murray, TNC, highlighted TNCs focus on increased commitments by countries to collaborate in including wetlands in natural GHG accounting inventories, and in including mitigation targets in revised NDCs. She noted that enhancing ambition in NDCs can also include the strengthening of the adaptation sections of NDCs.
Francisco Rilla, Ramsar Convention Secretariat, underlined that wetlands contribute to resilient ecosystems and noted that adaptation without water is not possible. He stressed that wetlands must figure more prominently in the national climate change plans, including local stakeholders and communities in the process.
Alfred Okot Okidi, Ministry of Water and Environment, Uganda, highlighted that Uganda has experienced a 44% reduction in wetland coverage since 1994, and stressed that strong political will at the highest and local level is needed to facilitate the wise use and restoration of wetlands in Uganda.
Neher stressed the need for synergies at the highest level in order to jointly address the Agenda 2030, the Paris Agreement, and the Aichi targets around wetlands, climate mitigation and NDCs.
In the ensuing discussion, panelists responded to questions on: wetland banking; conservation of urban wetlands; ways to encourage farmers abandon drained peatlands opting for their rewetting; and the European Unions legislation on recognizing emissions resulting from wetlands.
Because the Oceans: Incorporating the Ocean in NDCs
Presented by Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chile, Prince Albert II de Monaco Foundation, Tara Expéditions, Pacific Community, the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), Ocean Conservancy, Ocean Climate, World Resources Institute
Sylvie Goyet, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, moderated the event, reminding participants that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report (IPCC SR) on the ocean will be released in Monaco in 2019.
In a keynote address, Amb Peter Thomson, UN Secretary Generals Special Envoy for the Ocean, underscored the importance of addressing sewage which has connections to coastal ecosystems. Stating that it is naïve to talk about Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 in isolation, without linking it to climate change and all the other SDGs, he stressed the need to ensure action on land-based sources of ocean pollution, calling for urgent Source to Sea actions, including building sewage lines to promote sanitation. He urged bridging the disconnect between the project financiers and information about ocean-related projects. He said there will be a second Ocean Conference in Lisbon in June 2020.
Juan Angulo, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chile, noted that his country is active in international processes related to the ocean, including negotiations on biodiversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction (BBNJ), and reiterated Chiles commitment to enhancing the interlinkages between oceans and climate change. Underscoring the need to strengthen the science-policy interface, he underlined the importance of policymakers using the best possible science to address climate change and oceans issues.
Teresa Solana Mendez de Vigo, Office for Climate Change, Spain, announced the European Regional Workshop on the Because the Ocean Initiative in April 2019, reiterating the countrys support for the initiative since COP 21. Noting that this will be the last regional meeting before the release of the IPCC SR on oceans, she noted that the workshop will also feature a high-level segment.
Thérèse Coffey, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, UK, highlighted the UKs support for the protection of mangroves, or Blue Forests, and spoke about the UKs Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership, which reports on climate change in marine areas. She noted that the UK is on track to create even more Marine Protected Areas, highlighting ongoing discussions to protect 30% of the worlds marine areas by 2020.
Nilesh Prakash, Ministry of Economy, Fiji, reiterated the importance of the Ocean Pathway Partnership to large ocean states, and announced an upcoming workshop on incorporating oceans in Nationally Determined Contributions in Suva, Fiji in 2019.
Susan Ruffo, Ocean Conservancy, noted the important role of the Because the Ocean initiative in making the Paris Rulebook ocean-friendly.
Loreley Picourt, Ocean and Climate Platform, announced the launch of a report on the Decade of Ocean Science during Ocean Actions Day on Saturday, 8 December 2018, and that the Tara vessel will be in Monaco for the launch of the IPCC Report.
Biliana Cicin-Sain, Global Ocean Forum, reported the completion of the second annual progress report on oceans and climate, which calls for urgent action on climate to ensure the world meets the 1.5 degree target.
Remi Parmentier, The Varda Group
Collective Intelligence Processes and Data for the Common Good in Climate Change Mitigation
Presented by GreenGoWeb in collaboration with International Emissions Trading Association (IETA)
This event, moderated by Katie Sullivan, IETA, discussed collective engineering strategies to unleash collective intelligence and gather data in communities. The session also examined the ways data is transformed into information that can be used to develop services for governments or non-stakeholder organizations. During the event, participants explored Data 4 Good and exchanged views on how co-construction leads to collective intelligence processes that provide insights for projects and to which business models can be applied.
Marie-Laure Burgener, GreenGoWeb, said that bottom-up data is important, as it enables understanding of what decisions people make for sustainability. She noted that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) globally would be hampered by missing the data of millions of people who are excluded from national censuses. This, she emphasized, means that it is impossible to understand their current living conditions and is therefore difficult to deliver services that support the eradication of poverty, improve education, and fulfill other SDGs.
Burgener showed how the principles of gamification could be used to collect data through phone apps, for example, and noted that hackathons, where stakeholders gather with data experts, are key in gathering interest groups to discuss ways of solving challenges using data. She gave examples of hackathons held in the Pacific to develop ways to link small-scale producers to shipping facilities for their goods. She further highlighted ways in which data can be used as a bridge between citizens and UN processes, allowing people to access data on air quality, for example.
Moderator Sullivan asked questions about: the complementarities with artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain in the context of addressing the SDGs, climate change, and other fora; concrete examples from the hackathon; and who invests in these kinds of platforms.
Burgener said that the blockchain helps increase transparency, while AI can increase the speed of data processing, contributing to improved responses to climate change and natural disasters. Citing the example of a gender equality project on why female entrepreneurs raise less money than male entrepreneurs, she highlighted the challenge of missing data, including on poverty and climate change, to generate appropriate, informed decisions by governments and potential project funders.
In the ensuing discussion, participants discussed: the issues of security and privacy; opportunities for multi-stakeholder collaboration; and the need for fundraising vs. steward-ownership.”
Marie-Laure Burgener, GreenGoWeb