Shining a Light on the Climate Negotiations Bright Spots
Much of the discussion following COP-18, the Climate Change negotiations held in Doha, Qatar has focused on the lackluster outcomes and low level of ambition. It’s true the rate of progress is perilously slow, especially since the best available science now tells us that we are on a path to 4oC or more degrees of temperature change. But if we only focus on the negatives, we run the risk of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. The truth is that there were several important bright spots which did come out COP-18 that we shouldn’t overlook.
One of the main outcomes was a decision by the UN body to seek gender balance in the climate negotiations and in all the bodies established by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Rockefeller Foundation was proud to support this effort launched by Mary Robinson, the former Irish President and UN Human Rights Commissioner and head of the Mary Robinson Foundation - Climate Justice. Robinson launched this effort as a way of ensuring that future climate policies are more sensitive to gender differences in how climate change impacts are experienced, and in the belief that increasing participation by women delegates will bring new thinking, approaches and a greater sense of urgency to craft agreements that have impact on mitigation and adaptation.
The important role of women as agents of change on climate change was highlighted at a special event hosted by the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Rockefeller Foundation as a part of the secretariat’s Momentum for Change Initiative. This initiative aims to showcase the great work that women around the world are doing to prevent global warming, and prepare themselves and their communities for the impacts we are already feeling. A competition to be highlighted at next year’s COP meeting will be kicked off on March 8th, 2013, International Women’s Day.
One of the thorny issues discussed at COP was the need for developed nations to commit to medium term financing to bridge the $30 billion USD already committed to support developing countries adaptation and mitigation needs and the $100 billion USD that the international community pledged to deliver from public and private sources by 2020. While a lot is being done to track donor country finance commitments, there is much less tracking of where this finance is spent once it reaches national government coffers. New work by Oxfam, the World Resources Institute, and the Overseas Development Institute supported by the Rockefeller Foundation will help monitor how climate funding gets down to the local level, while at the same time building advocacy capacity for more effective, transparent and accountable use of climate funding in especially vulnerable countries.
The panel on climate finance at the close of Development and Climate Days, which was hosted by the International Institute of Environment and Development and The Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, showcased incredible efforts by the Central Bank of Bangladesh to green its operations, and make Bangladesh more resilient to the impacts of climate change by investing its own funds in women entrepreneurs and small scale farmers.
We also heard a lot of new and exciting thinking about resilience and equity, and how these overarching concepts can reinforce each other and potentially breathe new life into the climate negotiations, debates on the nascent sustainable development goals, and the post-2015 global cooperation framework. The World Resources Institute and Mary Robinson’s foundation have teamed up to launch a series of dialogues on the issue of Climate Justice, and were testing messages through a role playing exercise at COP-18 to see how a narrative around justice, rights and equity might help transform the global dialogue.
Finally, although many of us were disappointed that agriculture was once again sidelined in the climate negotiations, there was a lot of momentum around linking climate change, food security and agricultural development at Agriculture, Landscapes and Livelihoods Day. A group of African scientists highlighted how decision makers can identify socially and economically appropriate agricultural adaptation strategies in a roundtable session moderated by Cristina. Our partners at Oxfam and the World Food Program highlighted their work in a session on scaling up risk management for food security and agriculture, while partners at CARE presented some of their innovative on work on making climate finance work for the rural poor, and the Meridian Institute moderated a session on measuring greenhouse gas emissions and reductions in agriculture.
While the path to the next COP, to be held in Poland in late 2013, will surely be a circuitous one, we believe that these bright spots illustrate what courage, innovation, focus and dedication can bring in terms of improving people’s lives and catalyzing a more ambitious level of climate action that we so desperately need.