Since the commencement of the 27th edition of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) on November 6, participants have discussed various subjects aimed at achieving climate justice in Africa and other parts of the world.
The expectations are high, with even youth and children agitating and calling for the fast-tracking of the implementation of previous pledges as new ones are made. The theme for this year’s summit is #TogetherforImplementation.
The Conference of Parties (COP) is the supreme decision-making body of the convention. All states that are parties to the convention are represented at the COP, at which they review the implementation of the convention and any other legal instruments that the COP adopts.
This year’s COP27 creates another opportunity for the world to unite to make and take critical decisions in fighting the devastating impacts of climate change ravaging communities across the world. The COP27 held at the Sharm El-Sheikh pharaonic city of Egypt marks the fifth time Africa will be hosting the UN climate summit since its commencement in 1995 three years after it was adopted by parties.
The summit was previously hosted by Morocco (2001 and 2016), Kenya (2006), and South Africa (2011), leaving many Nigerian attendees wondering and asking if the giant of Africa is capable of ever hosting “COP”?
According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, over 50,000 thousand attendees have been registered for this year’s event— the highest figure recorded so far.
At the open plenary on Sunday, Egypt Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry was formally elected as the COP27 president by the Parties. He thereafter called on countries to show faith in multilateralism over the next two weeks as they negotiate to deliver on the goals of the Climate Convention and the Paris Agreement.
“It comes as no surprise to anyone that the COP is being held this year in a world which is witnessing political turmoil that cast a long shadow on all our nations and has resulted in energy and food crises; however these challenges should be no reason for delaying our collective effort to fight climate change,” he said.
Mr Shoukry said: “It is inherent on us all in Sharm El Sheikh to demonstrate our recognition of the magnitude of the challenges we face and our steadfast resolve to overcome it.”
Below are some of the notable discussions and events that have so far shaped the ongoing summit in Egypt so far:
The Climate Implementation Summit
COP27 is billed to run for 14 days (6 to 18 November). The first part of the conference kick-started with a high-level segment tagged “Climate Implementation Summit” for Heads of States and Governments on Monday and concluded Tuesday.
The two-day summit hosted heads of states and governments from over 100 countries, including U.S. President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. President Muhammadu Buhari did not attend the event. He was represented by the Minister of Environment, Mohammed Abdullahi, who is leading the Nigerian delegation.
The summit amplified the high-level commitment of parties on climate change issues, encouraging parties to speed up the fight against climate emergencies and promote coordinated action to tackle existential climate change effects ravaging the global environment.
Over the two days of the summit, food security, innovative finance, just transition, investing in the future of energy (green hydrogen, climate change and the sustainability of vulnerable communities) and water security, are the most pertinent climate subjects discussed at the series of six roundtables featured at the high level event which concluded on Tuesday.
2. First Ever Children and Youth Pavilion
On Tuesday, the first ever “Children and Youth Pavilion” in the history of climate conferences was opened at COP27. The UN said the aim is to contribute to further visibility, engagement and empowerment of voices of children and youth networks, and fostering their inclusion in the global climate conversation and policy making.
The pavilion is owned and managed by children and youth and is located at the official UN Blue Zone area of the conference.
The pavilion is currently hosting an array of events with prominent guests and actors within the climate change ecosystem. Young people across the globe meet there and network with each other.
“I depend on your voice. It is your future that we are supposed to be here to guarantee. And it is only through your voices, your advocacy and your inspiration that you will be able to enjoy your right to take full advantage of the earth, the forests and the air and to live a long and prosperous future on our beautiful planet once government’s undertake their responsibilities. You are the future and it is your voice that will help deliver it,” Mr Shoukry said during a visit to the pavilion.
3. Finance Day
Following the conclusion of the implementation summit, Wednesday was tagged “Finance Day”. It featured 26 programmes including a ministerial roundtable and saw the launch of “Reducing the Cost of Sustainable Borrowing Initiative.”
According to a statement by the organisers, it is estimated that the world will require between $4 trillion and $7 trillion per year to shift towards sustainable development and meet agreed Paris Agreement targets.
The sessions brought together all stakeholders involved in the climate agenda – from the public and private sectors to philanthropic entities, Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) and the UN bodies, with the view to crafting an inclusive and just financing roadmap that supports the global South in implementing their adaptation and mitigation plans, the organisers said.
Likewise, they reviewed and renewed the commitment of developed nations to provide funding to “Leave No One Behind”.
“Financing underpins the development of an energy transition pathway for Africa, but the unsustainable levels of public debt countries are managing acts as a block on advancing necessary climate initiatives,” said COP27 President Sameh Shoukry.
4. Food security
Food and food systems are a critical part of the ongoing climate change conversation in Egypt. At the summit’s roundtable discussion on “Food security,” co-chaired by Kenyan President William Ruto, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged to invest $1.4 billion over four years to support smallholder farmers, particularly women, with innovative digital technologies to sidestep the impacts of climate change in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.
Also, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) also announced the launch of $6 billion global food security platform ($3 billion IFC, $2 billion from private investors, $1 billion as blended finance).
Several international organisations have recognised the role of COP27 Food and Agriculture for Sustainable Transformation (FAST) global flagship initiative in responding to the urgency of implementation, as a multi-stakeholder partnership delivering triple wins— For people, For climate and For nature.
“Bold announcements to harness the enabling environment of green hydrogen fertilisers by African countries were made,” the UNFCCC said.
Globally, food production accounts for a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, unhealthy diets cause one in five deaths worldwide.
5. Launch of Adaptation Agenda
In response to the devastating impacts of climate change affecting vulnerable people all over the world, the COP27 Presidency launched the Sharm-El-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda on Thursday in partnership with the High-Level Champions.
The UNFCCC said the Adaptation Agenda will accelerate transformative actions by countries, regions, cities, businesses, investors and civil society to adapt to the acute climate hazards facing vulnerable communities.
It noted that at the launch events, a major package of support of over $150 million for adaptation was launched, and was announced at a special session on “Advancing Adaptation Action in Africa” co-hosted by Mr Shoukry, and United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry.
“The key challenge for African countries is to access funding for climate action. Recognizing that progress towards adapting to climate consequences and enhancing resilience is crucially needed,” Mr Shoukry said.
He explained that the agenda comprises a total of 30 global adaptation outcome targets by 2030 that are urgently needed to address the adaptation gap and increase the resilience of 4 billion people through accelerating transformation across five impact systems: food and agriculture, water and nature, coastal and oceans, human settlements, and infrastructure.
In the midst of all adaptation pledges made, the Nigerian government on Thursday launched a new adaptation project (tree-planting) tagged: “Project 250k”.
The new initiative which was disclosed by the Minister of Youth and Sport, Sunday Dare, said it targets the youth as part of efforts to get them involved in the country’s fight against the devastating impacts of climate change in Nigeria.
6. “Loss & Damage Agenda” Still Blurry
Following the official announcement of Mr Shoukry as the new Egyptian COP27 president, “loss and damage” made it to the agenda items during the procedural opening on Sunday.
Ahead of COP27, the item (loss and damage) was still uncertain but it finally crept into the agenda after being put forward by negotiators (including developing countries) after robust discussions among the 194 parties to the UNFCCC.
At the plenary, the president said that this year’s deliberations on climate issues must consider the needs of developing countries (Africa) because they are least responsible for emissions and are the most affected by the global impact of climate change.
“As a COP hosted in Africa, it must consider the needs of the developing countries and ensure climate justice through availing the appropriate finance and other means of implementation, as countries that are the least responsible for emissions are the most affected by climate change,” Mr Shoukry said.
The loss and damage agenda is still one of the major climate justice dozens of Africans at COP are largely clamouring for.
Although, some of the young negotiators from Africa are doubting if significant pledges would be made for the loss & damage agenda because it seems not to align with the Paris agreement guidelines.
Key concerns for Africa
The director-general of Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria, Adesola Adepoju, said while the agreements made so far are great, implementation remains a problem.
“The agreements are there, but mostly where challenges come is in the implementation of the action, actioning those pledges that have been agreed upon is mostly where Africa faces challenges to get the developed world to back up those commitments with actions,” Mr Adepoju said.
Despite the launch of the first ever youth and children pavilion at COP 27, many young attendees still raise concerns over the blurry future for their participation and involvement at the negotiations table.
“The value of young people is not recognised by those who are in power and when young people are recognised, they are just given something like panel discussions,” said Rose Kobusinge, a Uganda-based climate justice advocate.
“This is not what we want,” Ms Kobusinge echoed, “we want to go into negotiations, we want to make the decisions, we want to be involved in policy making and implementation and we want to be collaborators and co-designers of solutions to the effects of climate change that are facing us,” she said.
She lamented that the youth are taken as if they know “nothing” and they should sit and wait for the old people to decide for them.
In general, the young climate justice advocate said she feels low energy at COP27 because the promises and commitments that were made at last year’s COP26 are still not met.
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