Talanoa Dialogue at COP23

Tagalano Roa United Nations Climate change conference 2017 Bonn GermanyLast Year at COP22 in Marrakech, much of the media conversation was distracted by the US election results, and the instability of what would become of the Paris Agreement without the US’s commitment. Would it fall the way of the Kyoto Protocol? Would the economics work in its favor, as they did in the case of the Montreal Protocol? Countries weren’t sure, but they knew that inaction was too risky. They signed the Marrakech Action Protocol, indicating that they were all “Still In” regardless of what other countries decided. The decision was a powerful statement of unity for the environmental community worldwide, and a fierce posture against the new administration’s foreign policy stance. This effort was paired with a decision to include more non-state actors. Where states fail to act or where they are limited in their reach, their capacities can be expanded by including civil society in the implementation, tracking and policy making. This decision let to the organization of a Facilitative Dialogue in 2018.

The facilitative dialogue was called to address three questions:

              Where Are We?                            Where do we need to be?                             How do we get there?

These three questions were to be answered through a conversation between the stakeholders and the 196 nations that are part of the Paris Agreement.

COP23 Frank Bainimarama hosts an open dialogue with stakeholders from all constituency groups present. Talanoa session.

Stakeholders have long been fighting for a voice in the decision making of international climate change agreements, and this dialogue was especially important to youth.  Within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), there are nine recognized constituency groups (a network of organizations that share a common purpose). They are: Business & Industry, Research & Investigation, Youth, Environmental, Local Government & Municipal Authorities, Indigenous Peoples, Farmers, Women & Gender, and Trade Unions. Each constituency has one or more policy position that they would like to see pushed through during the negotiations. Each of these constituency groups would now have a stronger voice through the Facilitative Dialogue.

 Fiji Prime Minister hosts the open dialogue
photo courtesy of IISD Reporting Services.

During Week One, Fiji Prime Minister and COP23 President, Frank Bainimarama and UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa held an Open Dialogue between party actors and constituency groups. This was the first time for many constituency groups to have a seat at the table with equal footing and an equal voice in the conversation. Statements made by constituencies were given freely, not limited or timed as they typically are. The Fiji presidency compared the dialogue to a process called talanoa, a storytelling style used in the Pacific that emphasizes participation, inclusion and transparency, on a basis of trust and empathy.

Patricia Espinosa listens to constituency groups during talanoa session at COP23
photo courtesy of IISD Reporting Services.

Parties engaged as well, responding to concerns of different constituency groups. The UK mentioned locking business leaders in a room until they figured out how to transition to a green economy, while Mexico joked that their businesses went into the room willingly. Uganda talked about a national climate change forum they held with non-party stakeholders to engage youth and community organizations in climate change adaptation.

Youth asked for greater focus on climate empowerment, with financial and institutional support for their programs so that they can take action in their home countries. We also asked for climate empowerment, capacity building, and climate change education to be included in countries’ national climate action plans, especially for mitigation.

COP23 YOUNGO intervention talanoa dialogue
photo courtesy of IISD Reporting Services.

Moving into next year, there will be an online platform where we can contribute to the dialogue to try and answer some of these questions of where we’re at, where we’re going, and how to get there. The purpose of this dialogue is to create solutions, to drive innovation, and propose realistic means through which we limit global average temperature rise to 1.5⁰C.  Next year will be the big year to get these solutions together so that countries can start putting them in place worldwide before the 2023 Global Stocktake, when a count will be done of each country’s present and reduced emissions, carbon sinks, and mitigation efforts.

Youth around the world are already acting on the ground to create synergy for emissions reductions. Plant-for-the-Planet, Climate Smart Agriculture Youth Network, and CliMates are just a couple examples of organizations that bring thousands of youth together for reforestation, less invasive farming, and campaign building. For capacity-building, Youth Climate Lab, China Youth Climate Action Network and Care About Climate have created tools for youth worldwide to connect on online platforms to discuss the issues, solutions, and strategies for youth activists to be most effective in their work to address climate change locally, regionally or nationally. In terms of policy action, on an international level, we have working groups within YOUNGO that address many policy issues such as

Kava- a traditional Pacific drink

Adaptation, Women & Gender, Capacity-Building, Oceans, etc. These work to consolidate our policy positions into a specific request of policy-makers.

Over the next year, the UNFCCC will be continuing the Talanoa Dialogue at intersessionals in May and at COP24 in Poland. We look forward to drinking kava and having many more talanoa sessions! In the meantime, we’ll be continuing with our capacity building work year-round and working to make it as inclusive and transparent as possible. As Mr. Bainimarama said, “We are all in the same canoe“, we must work together to find & implement solutions.

By Sarah Voska

Sarah Voska is a delegate to the UN climate change conference, COP23, and the director of the Online Youth Exchange. She studies Sustainable Management at University of Wisconsin-Parkside. Use the #ClimateSign to join the fight against climate change. Contact us at careaboutclimate@gmail.com with any questions!

Tracking Change: Will We See Ambition @ COP23?

With the beginning of Week 2 at COP23 in Germany, I am entering my fifth experience at the UN climate talks. In a couple of hours, I begin to hear questions about the United States’ role now that they intend to withdraw. Some voices call for the U.S. to withdraw from the process entirely and others seem to find comfort that there is a clear loser in this consensus based process. There are questions about how countries will offer Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to embrace the Paris Agreement, and how countries will pay for climate change.

When I listen to climate talks, I look for words I understand in a cloud of words that are arranged to confuse almost everyone in the room. Last afternoon, I watched a room of negotiators nearly achieve inclusion of the word “gender” in a report, which would also help lay out their work for the coming year. Gender equity in the climate talks is an important issue, as many impacts of climate change disproportionately impact women.

As consensus neared, Saudi Arabia claimed interest in compromise. Within five minutes, the conversation derailed to a separate piece of the text and time ran out and…well, let’s just say not only is gender not in that report – but that report got tabled until May of 2018.

Civil society is seeking greater ambition as negotiators face crucial implementation details of the Paris Agreement. When in doubt, any negotiator can rest easy knowing they are not the United States. With stated intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement and a single conference event about the positive role of fossil fuels, the U.S. is even more unpopular than usual.

This year, familiar faces from the U.S. Envoy could still be seen in the halls of COP23. I ran into negotiator Trigg Talley and convinced him to share the climate sign. To be honest, in these dark times I felt a solidarity with him that I did not feel in the lead up to the Paris Agreement.

In a press briefing, the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance called for equitable finance of climate solutions. They are not just looking for the missing $100 billion in the Adaptation Fund – they are asking for equitable distribution of whatever funds are generated in the coming years. One thing can be agreed across the board: very little will be accomplished if financial mechanisms for the Paris Agreement are not solidified and if negotiators hide behind cowards bigger than themselves. Negotiators forget that climate change is happening in real time, and that the world is in need of more solutions.

The Climate March

On November 4th, activists from different parts of the world converged in Bonn, Germany to make a stand against Climate Change. Chanting slogans while clothed in red outfits, the protesters marched through the streets of the erstwhile Western capital of Germany towards to UN center where the COP 23 is taking place. The UN Conference of Parties 2017 (COP23) began here on November 6th and will run until November 17th. The COPs are the annual negotiations of the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) where ideas are exchanged to find solutions on how to mitigate Climate Change.

In the light of this conference, the Saturday before the official start of negotiations, an estimate of about 11,000 activists gathered to demand urgent action on the termination of coal in order to combat climate change and fight climate injustice. “Klima Schutzen – Kohle Stoppen” which translates to Protect our Climate and Stop the usage of Coal was the main message of this march. Since COP23 is being held in Germany, the nearby operating RWE coal mines of the Rhineland are a sore point in the framework of the convention. While the 11,000 marching civilians protested against the continued extraction of this fossil fuel, it will no doubt be a large dirty elephant in the room throughout the 10-day negotiations. Groups such as Code Rood and 350.org have supported the campaign of ending coal extraction in the Rhineland, marketed as ´Ende Gelände´. Germany claims to be a leader in clean energy, while as you read this the Rhineland coal mine industry remains the largest CO2 emitter in Europe. Solar and wind energy — while growing rapidly — still only account for a tiny sliver of global energy production. According to a study published last week in Environmental Research Letters, holding sea level rise to 50 centimeters (20 inches) by 2100 would become nearly impossible if coal-fired energy is not phased out by mid-century.

Our delegates had a wonderful experience at the march where we interacted with other groups who shared their thoughts and ideas with us. From university students to working professionals, we saw great passion and enthusiasm from the participants. The march concluded with a number of activists sharing their stories and views on Climate Change which was very inspiring and touching. Climate Change is here and we need to fight it now!

 

Young and Future Generations Day

 

BONN, GERMANY– Today is Young and Future Generations day at the United Nations Climate Talks, COP23, and young people from around the world are joining together to call on leaders to step up their commitments to address climate change and keep the planet below 1.5℃ warming.

Recently, the United Nations Environmental Program published the Emissions Gap Report for 2017. The report indicated that with the current country commitments under the Paris Agreement, we are currently on track to reduce emissions by only one-third of what is needed by 2030 in order to remain below the 1.5℃ temperature limit.

“If we do not make a drastic step forward, my hometown in Malaysia will be flooded before any real impact is seen. I don’t want to lose my home and it is not fair that I will. The world leaders must make a significant change to save my home and the homes of millions of others. By the end of COP24 leaders need to step up and make serious commitments,” states climate activist Amalen S. from Malaysia working on Rhizom Art Space for COP23.

Countries need to lead the way in closing this emissions gap for our future. This means that for their 2020 commitments, countries need to significantly increase their ambition to reduce emissions enough in order to ensure a stable global climate. By the end of COP24 in 2018 if countries fail to increase ambition, our future will be filled with even more extreme storms, droughts, fires, and sea level rise. We, as the Youth Constituency of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, call on our countries to step up now and commit to ambitious targets in 2020.

“My future relies on your action. Climate change impacts our agricultural production, and that is what I rely on for my livelihood and access to education. You have the power to make sure my future is secure,” Emmanual Yengi from Care About Climate- Uganda emphasized.

Under a health lense – COY13 and COP23

Storm washed away entire classrooms in hurricane Winston.
Storm washed away entire classrooms in hurricane Winston.

The 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP23) is this year presided over by Fiji, but hosted in Bonn, Germany for logistical and financial reasons.
This is a historic moment. The first time a Small Island Developing State (SIDS) has had the helm. And it couldn’t have come at a better time! 
Mr Frank Bainimarama himself is the president of the COP and has stated that Fiji is focused on completing the Paris work program, the newly renamed ‘Talanoa Dialogue’ (instead of facilitative, much nicer as this is about inclusive, thoughtful discussions), the Climate Action Agenda, Oceans, Disaster Risk Insurance, the Indigenous Peoples Platform and the Gender Action Plan.
Fiji seem to be really taking the lead and providing strong leadership already in these areas. I am cautiously hopeful of some movement with them already so strongly affected by climate disasters, ocean and agricultural changes and rising sea levels. I was in remote Fijian island groups last year with Sea Mercy, on a mission post the record-breaking Cyclone Winston and am personally moved by having people in control that are so affected, in so many ways.

Children stand in front of destroyed houses 6 months after Fiji’s hurricane Winston.


A recent analysis of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) of countries, the path they have committed to meet their own goals of the Paris Agreement, found only 65% had included any mention of health. Only 90 countries mentioning it in the context of mitigation. So we still have a long way to go in terms of awareness and policy lobbying.

Much media attention has also been given to where health and climate meet due to the recent release of ‘Tracking progress on health and climate change’,  by The Lancet Countdown. Just in time for COP, they estimated that 9 million premature deaths in 2015 were from pollution, ’three times more deaths than from AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined, 15 times more than from all wars and other forms of violence.’
They unpack the true costs of air, water and soil pollution that has been ignored for so long, often in the name of ‘economic ‘progress’. They also recommended cost-effective measures to tackle the problems, including implementing monitoring systems and having timely accountability associated, working with business and local councils and being willing to confront vested interests.
There was also a special mention of the responsibilities of health professionals – that we need to control the pollution and emissions of the health sector that make up a large footprint in society. Lead by example by reducing in our own lives, support climate planning at all levels, develop climate focused health curriculum and ‘support research in exposure science, environmental science, health policy research and health economics.’

Partnerships between government, civil society, and the health professions have proven powerfully effective in past struggles to control pollution. For example, in the ultimately successful effort to remove lead from gasoline, which was fiercely resisted for many years by the lead industry, partnerships were built between government agencies, health professionals, and civil society organisations.

The study has been widely picked up by the media and will be very useful for reference in the negotiations.

I arrived in Bonn early, to attend the 13th Conference of Youth. With 1300 participants from 114 countries. It was an incredible conference, organised and ran completely by volunteer youths. It really was a model to follow in terms of sustainability. For example all catering was vegan or ‘recovered’, from bakeries and such who couldn’t sell the products the day before. It was extremely inspiring, productive and uplifting conference. They also made it a free conference with meals only 5Euro and securing a very low transport ticket for the participants as well, really ensuring the lowest barriers to participation that were possible.
Health featured a lot more than I thought it would – with five education sessions held on various aspects of health and climate, very necessary as many people still don’t see the relevance immediately as it is not clear in the text and discussions currently.

Emily teaches a Care About Climate session with Sarah Voska at COY13

I co-ran two sessions on the psychology of engaging people, making sure we make our efforts as effective as possible, knowing what approaches turn people off and what gets people to be open to new ideas and change. For a quick rundown of some of these very useful concepts, you can watch these short videos – Psychology for a Better World by Niki Harre and Science Of Persuasion based on Dr. Cialdini’s book, Influence.

I was also alerted to a relatively new health organisation, The European Environment and Health Youth Coalition (EEHYC), that is specifically targeting policies in the EU where health is impacted by environmental issues.
The first platform was created with the support of the WHO in Lithuania, but also now they have platforms in Hungary, Slovenia, Ukraine, Croatia, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
They are the first youth health alliance I know of with the focus purely on environmental issues and they are very excited at the support they are receiving to engage in the space.
Outside of youth, the EU do have the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) and Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) that operates in the EU.

EEHYC ran an action challenge, giving out 200 pedometers to encourage and remind people of the importance of active transport and during the climate march held on the 4th, a large group of local young health professionals turned up in coats and masks, asking for the end of coal mining.

Climate Sign
COY13 Stands in Solidarity for Climate Action with Fiji PM & COP23 President Frank Bainamamara, Exec. Secretary Patricia Espinosa, and UNFCCC Focal Point on Education & Youth, Adriana Valenzuela.


In general, I am feeling very hopeful. I was quite emotional seeing how many developing countries and women were being empowered to speaking positions and were even just able to attend. Partly due to a huge effort by the volunteer coordinators to facilitate and find funding for global south scholarships this year. Of course not enough, but a huge difference to what I have seen in the past.
A 19 year old samoan girl, who studies at Auckland University, brought me to tears at the closing ceremony. I was so proud of her poise, power and mana she brought. One beautiful thing she said was regarding a saying they have in Samoa, that the fastest canoe is one with an elder steering but with the youth providing the momentum.
I left feeling supported, enlightened, connected and empowered. Ready for COP23, where we have 1 year to get all of the Paris Agreement details finalised and that momentum is needed in many other areas of negotiations if we want a realistic chance of staying below 2 degrees C.

If you want to follow, comment, support or be involved with my progress at this COP, feel free to follow me on twitter @emilyjoyrushton or through Care About Climate’s facebook page.
I will endeavour to find time to report back after each week. 🙂
Bula vinaka!

Emily at COP22 in 2016

 Emily Rushton is a New Zealand nurse, currently living in France and doing a Masters in Health, Sustainability and Wellbeing. She has been an active participant in the United Nations Climate negotiations for 1.5 years, focusing mainly on agriculture’s intersection with health and empowering youth. In 2016 she was runner-up for the NZ young Nurse of the year for her climate education outreach through OraTaiao: New Zealand’s Health and Climate Council. She also directs Care About Climate’s mentorship program, Climate Ambassador’s, as well as being part of the coordinating team of the youth constituency of the UNFCCC.

Talanoa Mada ~ Youth Stand for Climate Action

For the past three days, over 1000 students, youth and young professionals converged in a high school in the outskirts of Bonn to define policy goals for COP, share strategies, and brainstorm ideas for how to combat climate change. The Thirteenth Conference of Youth, or COY13, was a place for youth to come together to prepare for the UN climate change conference (COP23) and another year of environmental activism around the world.

Photo rights to COY13 Germany COP23 Bonn Climate Sign Action
Participants raise the Climate Sign during the Opening Ceremony. Photo courtesy of COP13 PR team.

There were over 300 program contributions, consisting of workshops, presentations, and panel discussions. There was also an art space active throughout all three days, where the participants could make banners and signs for the Climate March, as well as other actions directed at building momentum and pushing negotiators towards stronger action.COY13

One session that I felt was really helpful was called “Combatting Isolationism in the Environmental Movement. The session recognized the number of environmentalists killed annually: a sobering 100 activists, or two a week, worldwide. It also addressed the issue of disconnected activists, who work outside the framework of a formal organization. For them, it can be extremely difficult, and even dangerous to do their work. Without resources, recognition, or support, they are most likely to burn out or be discouraged.

Photo courtesy of COY13

At the end of the session, we talked about how we all must work together. We are all working towards the same goal, of stronger commitments to greenhouse gas emission reduction, reforestation, reduction of plastic and food waste, and access to climate change education, mitigation resources, and adaptation strategies for people all around the world, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, gender or wealth.

This communal theme ran through all of COY, and positive energy flowed through all the participants as we engaged in the conference theme of Talanoa Mada, which essentially means “Let’s talk” in Fijian. It connotes a participatory dialogue about how to combat issues that affect the entire community. As we move into the first week of COP23, the participatory dialogue will be a focus of the Fijian Presidency. Lagi Seru, a Fijian delegate and COY13 team member, describes Talanoa Mada:

Lagi Seru from Fiji. Photo courtesy of COY13

Talanoa is an everyday part of Fijian life. Creating a harmonizing environment for all, it brings together people to give thoughts and share opinions without the fear of retribution. People can freely voice their concerns, no finger pointing, and take the time to offer practical solutions at this space.”

Throughout COY13, special care was taken to support diversity, inclusion, well-being and equity, so that everyone felt that their voice were heard and valued. So many solutions were shared through case studies, brainstorming sessions, and workshops over the three day conference, and the participants left on Saturday encouraged, motivated and united for climate action, whether in their local communities, on their school/university campuses, and during COP23.

With youth from 114 countries worldwide, there was a great diversity within the venue. Everywhere you went, there was a burst of languages, laughter, and bright colors- from the clothing, flags, and signs born by the participants. Despite, or more accurately, because of the great diversity, there was a sort of synergy. Together, with so many different ideas, perspectives and experiences, we are able to overcome any roadblocks and obstacles we faced. Policy papers were written on behalf of the working groups, new partnerships were formed between overseas organizations, and those going into the COP23 negotiations were carefully prepared for strategic engagementduring the conference. COY13 was an incredible model of collaboration and participation. Whether it was through their food waste diversion programs, or morning yoga sessions, it gave us all the energy & focused determination that we needed to move into the tough negotiations of these next two weeks.

Vikaka & Danke to the entire COY13 organizing team!

Climate Sign
COY13 Stands in Solidarity for climate action using the Climate Sign, with Fiji PM & COP23 President Frank Bainamamara, Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa, Mayor Ashok-Alexander Sridharan, & UNFCCC Focal Point on Education & Youth Adriana Valenzuela.

 

By Sarah Voska

Sarah Voska is a delegate to the UN climate change conference, COP23, and the director of the Online Youth Exchange. She studies Sustainable Management at University of Wisconsin-Parkside. Use the #ClimateSign to join the fight against climate change. Contact us at careaboutclimate@gmail.com with any questions!

Nepal’s role in COP and Issues of Climate Finance

COP 23 and Nepal’s Agenda?

This year becomes very challenging, because of natural disaster around a world. More than 1200 people lost their life because of flood in Nepal, Bangladesh and India. United States of America faced a devastating hurricane and incidence of fire. Many of the part of world faced the recorded hit of heat waves and storms. All this cost to loss of billions of property. Some day before, World Metrological Organization release a report with a warning sign of global average concentration of Carbon dioxide reached 403.3 parts of millions (ppm) in 2016. This reports also says that this concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increase at record speed last year to hit a level not seen for more than three millions years.[1] With this all on the board, worlds leaders, academician, representatives from civil society, climate activists, media and youth are gathering at Bonn for UN Climate Change Conference.

What is COP 23?

This year, 23rd Meeting of Conference of Parties to UNFCCC will take place from 6 to 17 November at Bonn, Germany. The conference will be convened under the Presidency of Fiji. This meeting will focus on the development of guidance on how the Paris Agreement’s provisions will be implemented across a wide range of issues including transparency, adaptation, emission reductions, and provision of finance, capacity building and technology. There will also be the thirteenth session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 13), second part of the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1.2). There will also be the forty seventh session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 47), forty seventh session of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 47) and fourth part of the first session of the AD Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA 1.4). The COP, the CMP and the CMA are the supreme decision making bodies for the Convention, the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement respectively[2]. This is a regular meeting of UNFCCC but will also be very important as this will be on of the very important steps for the effective implementation of Paris Agreement.

Being a party to the UNFCCC, Nepal has also participated in the COP meeting from the beginning. Nepal has participated with a strong voice raising the important agenda of Nepal. This year also, governmental delegation led by the Honorable Minister for Ministry of Population and Environment, Government of Nepal, representatives from Civil Society, Climate Activist, representatives from media house have already headed to Bonn to participate in meeting.

What are the main agenda of Nepal for COP 23?

Before moving to Bonn, Ministry of Population and Environment has prepared a Nepal’s Agenda paper with a series of consultation workshop in Nepal. Nepal has focused and call for the effective implementation of the Paris Agreement, financial support to undertake the adaptation and mitigation actions in the country. Nepal has also raised the issues related to financing of adaption, financing of loss and damage and consideration of agriculture within the formal negotiations process. Nepal has focused in the harnessing of international cooperation and support in technology development for the implementation of NAPA priority projects. Nepal has also focused for the international effort for the access of small holder farmers to adjust their farmers systems and move toward low carbon efficient practices and to increase the access of farmers to weather and climate information services and financial schemes. Nepal has priorities adaptation finance and technology transfer as a key to Nepal and LDCs. Nepal has also put forwarded to discuss on the modalities for accounting financial resources and clear clarity on the financial instruments, difference between the ODA and the climate finance. Nepal will also raise the issues for the easy and simplified access of international funds, capacity building of Least Developed Countries like Nepal. Nepal will raise all this issues during the different meetings, side events.

Being one of the most vulnerable countries because of the negative impact of climate change and Least Developed Countries, Conference of Parties to UNFCCC is very much important for Nepal, to raise the Nepal’s Agenda on the global arena. So, Nepal delegation team has not to miss any chance to grab the opportunity which is foremost to achieve the Nepal’s goal.

Written By Pradeep

Pradeep is a climate activist from Nepal and currently he is working with Prakriti Resources Centre (PRC) as a Programme Officer. He is also a part of Online Youth Exchange Program run by Care About Climate and China Youth Climate Action Network.

 

We’re Still In?

Tagalano Roa United Nations Climate change conference 2017 Bonn GermanyOn June 1st, President Donald Trump announced that the US would be pulling out of the Paris Agreement. But next week, he’ll be sending the Rex Tillerson’s third-ranking state department official and undersecretary for political affairs, Tom Shannon, to lead the US delegation at a United Nations conference in Germany to work with world leaders on the details of the Paris Agreement’s implementation.

Shannon will be on his way next week to join UN delegates, and representatives from industry, non-profits, universities, Indigenous groups and local governments to hash out the rules for implementing the Paris Agreement. Written in 2015, it was signed by 196 countries and so far has been ratified by 169. The only county in the UN that has not signed the agreement is Syria.

It’s difficult to understand the US’s position on climate change. President Trump, during his campaign and while in office has called for our removal from the Paris Agreement. The United States cannot officially withdraw from the treaty until 2020, so the US delegation will be there to negotiate the rules for measuring & tracking emissions. Their delegation will be Huffington Post John Kerry UNFCCC Climate Change Conference Marrakechmuch smaller than last year’s 90 person delegation, led by John Kerry, and they will not host an official US pavilion, which traditionally has been a space to engage with civilians, share relevant NASA or EPA data, and host presentation on how US public and private sector are engaging to combat climate change.  The delegation will mostly be there to protect US interests by ensuring that other countries are being transparent in their reporting methods and actually meeting their commitments.

Many environmental leaders are stepping up to fill the void of a smaller US presence in the conference. We’re Still In is a collaboration of state governors, mayors, CEOs, university presidents and tribal leaders representing about 120 million people (more than a third of the US population) who are committing their governors, mayors, businesses investors and universities global leaders reducing carbon footpringstates, cities, businesses, schools and nations to the Paris Agreement.  They are hosting an unofficial US pavilion, and sponsoring educational seminars and workshops to show the world that at the local level, US citizens are doing something to combat climate change.

Because the Constitution reserves the power of signing international treaties for the Federal government, this commitment is unofficial, and symbolic. But leaders of these groups firmly believe that action on climate change is absolutely necessary from a public health, economic and social justice standpoint. If we don’t act now to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, we’ll face rising sea levels, more ferocious extreme weather events- among the likes of Maria and Irma, droughts and heat waves that destroy cropland- and increased migration & conflict around the world.

Caroad2paris USA climate change UNFCCC COP23

Former Mayer Michael Bloomberg (NYC), Gov. Jerry Brown (CA) and other prominent leaders from local governments will be leading the charge at this year’s conference. Both have mobilized private funds to support projects to reduce emissions worldwide. The Paris Agreement calls for $100 billion USD to be raised each year for 5 years, in order to help developing countries pay for the costs of sustainable development investments and rebuild after climate change related flooding or other disasters. Their presence at the conference will be part of a larger conversation going on there, a conversation to better engage those who don’t work in the government: to hear their concerns and use them as a resource to better enforce the Paris Agreement. Through this Facilitative Dialogue, countries will be able discuss what progress has been made since Paris, and ramp up efforts to meet their commitments to the Paris Agreement.

What makes the Paris Agreement unique from past UN climate change treaties is that each country is only hold to what they commit to contributing. So the US isn’t being told they have to pay anyone, our negotiators determined what would be a realistic amount that would fit our budget. The US has also committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 28% below 2005 levels. This sense of personal responsibility is part of what has inspired cities across the nation to prioritize renewable energy, promote LEED certification or green roofs, and take an audit of their energy consumption and emissions to see where they can become more efficient. Companies are seeing the returns of engaging in corporate social responsibility, not to mention the economic benefits of corporate sustainability policies. It has become clear to open minded leaders in government and industry that movement towards sustainability is not just economically and socially viable, but absolutely necessary for the United States. So let’s stand together and let the rest of the world know that We’re Still In.

By Sarah Voska

 

Sarah Voska is a delegate to the UN climate change conference, COP23, representing Care About Climate. Care About Climate is a 501-C non-profit that works in climate change education and communication. She studies Sustainable Management at University of Wisconsin-Parkside. Use the #ClimateSign to join the fight against climate change. Contact us at careaboutclimate@gmail.com with any questions!

A Nepali Perspective on the IYSECC Conference

On July 8th, I started my journey for a week to China. I was excited to meet lots of friends from different countries. More that that though, I was excited to meet my friends from the Online Youth Exchange program with whom I have talked virtually for more than 9 months- talking on different environmental issues. I was also excited because I was going to attend an international summit discussion on the climate change issues which is one of the major problems to the present world.

There is a no doubt that youth are the one who are and will face the extremes events of climate change and are the one who can act and made a change for better world. With an aims to encourage young people from around the world to get involved in the fight against climate change the international Youth Summit on Energy and Climate Change was held from 9th to 12th July 2017 at Tianjin University, China.  This summit was so important to young people like me, because the theme of this program was mainly focused on clothing, food, housing and transportation. The program was mainly focused on how to change our life to sustainable lifestyle contributing to minimize our carbon footprint.

The paramount about program was it was focused on the things that we use in our daily life such as transport, food, and clothes. This program provided an insight to explore the options for young people to made our life standard sustainable. In the present context, one of the major problems of the earth is unsustainable consumption and unmanaged wastes like plastic.  So, this program added an idea to young people to obtain sustainable lifestyle.

Different presentations, presented on the issues of consumption, transportation, green habit, on waste management were very informative. Presentation on Innovative Urban Planning for Low Carbon Transportation presented by different experts was very useful and I got to know about the way to obtain the low carbon transportation and planning. Mainly, they shared the concept about the transportation planning in China such as Transportation Oriented Development which was very much interesting and knowledgeable. Similarly, the presentation on Saying No to Landfills: the green conversion of waste provided an knowledge on the proper waste management for greener environment. The formal and informal discussion with the different like-minded people from different countries and more to Chinese friends has added a strong step to fight against the different environmental issues existing in the world.

Together with this, getting to make new Chinese friends was really nice. Their help and coordination was very much appreciated. The way of development in the city and management was really inspiring.

Online to Offline Youth Exchange Program

Environmental problems are the most pressing issues in the present time all around the world. Every country is facing the different environmental problems such as air pollution, water pollution, unmanaged waste management, climate change etc. With an aim to enhance the capacity of young people, CYCAN and Care about Climate organized a program Online to Offline Youth Exchange program. Being a member of the OYE, I have get a chance to engage and strengthen my network with different youth from globe. To be a part of OYE I felt very lucky. This platform has enhanced my capacity and build a confidence to talk on the different environmental issues and topics. This has helped us to create a strong web network among friends from different countries.

Himalayan Mountains Climate Change Nepal Youth Climate Action Network

During the conference, we seven OYE member, Amalen (Malaysia), Mohamed (Egypt), Jasmita (Nepal) including Cheery and Yirui from China participated. The support and coordination of Sarah from Care about Climate and Echo from CYCAN was much appreciated. We seven participated and facilitated the session on “International Cooperation and Youth Action”. In this session, Sarah presented her story on how she inspired to get engaged with environment, Mohamed and Jasmita also shared their journey working on climate change issues in their countries. Amalen facilitated on game which engaged all the participants. I presented on the impact of climate change in Nepal. The session was mainly focused on how to engage the youths in international cooperation for climate action. The half day session was ended with the distribution of certificate of Online to Offline Youth Exchange Program.

By Pradeep

Pradeep is a founding partner of Smart Ltd, an environmental consulting firm and former network director of Nepalese Youth for Climate Action. He lives in Kathmandu and has a Master’s degree in Environmental Science.  Use the #ClimateSign to join the fight against climate change.

Reflecting on OYE

If you Google my name you’d probably find some facebook pages or some websites with this intro – Amalen Sathananthar, raised in Kuantan and someone who has spent a lot of his youth with nature through various outdoor activities like camping and trail running. Through this bond I have discovered a need to help preserve what remains of the natural environment and help reverse the effects of Climate change in whatever way that I can. An avid volunteer at environmental NGO’s, I spend most of my time dedicated to my urban agriculture venture – Tanah U: Green Union (TU:GU) in Malaysia.

That’s me on the left!

Well, that’s me. I like to think of myself as an environmentalist. I give talks and workshops on matters related to climate change and activism and try to help out where I can. This is a little recollection of my past year being a part of the OYE program, from making lifelong friends to giving a talk in a conference in China.

If you have been involved in the global youth scene in environmentalism, you definitely have heard of YOUNGO before. I joined YOUNGO’s mailing list  in 2015 and have been fairly active on it since then, getting involved with discussions and organising actions etc.

About a year ago, I came across an email thread on capacity building. The need for a centralised capacity building platform had been widely discussed because there seems to be many with gaps in information that are really crucial and these things like what is YOUNGO or UNFCCC are quite basic and some things like ‘How does China’s new energy mix affect the regional energy diversification’ are a bit more complicated. It’s not like we don’t have people who can help give clarifications but the platform to share this information hadn’t really been properly established. Different initiatives and projects have been set up by a varying number of groups but nothing seemed to stick or propagate globally.

Then suddenly (well not really),  Natalie from Care About Climate popped up and presented this program to us – The Online Youth Exchange.  This program was an international youth exchange specifically focused on information transfer, an initiative by Care About Climate and China Youth Climate Action Network. I saw this and thought, “Hey this looks cool, let’s give it a go, plus I can possibly practice my different activism workshop sessions on here maybe.” So sign on I did.
First things first, I was not the only one from YOUNGO. Quite a few people signed on about 90 applied and 60 or so were accepted into the program to participate (of course, there were a ton of sleeping members).
We were contacted by the coordinators and paired up with a partner of similar interests and I was partnered with Cherry, an environmental economics major  from Renmin University from China. We we’re told to get in touch with our partners and told that every month there would be 2 webinars made and presented by the paired groups of participants. We we’re also advised to give comparisons during our sessions eg – bike sharing systems in America in comparison to China. A youth capacity building session run by the youth for the youth.


All this sounded fun and good but I was worried about timings as I am someone who never has a fixed schedule. To my relief my partner, Cherry was in the same time zone and being a student she was pretty flexible with timings and thank god the webinars were recorded and I could watch them on the trains in the morning on the way to work.

Friendship forms Beijing conference because of Online Youth Exchange
Cherry & Amalen get to meet!

So the program continued on for a duration of 1 year. Cherry and I became really good friends. She’s like 5 years younger but really eager to know more and do more for the environment. I was not going to COP 22 in Marrakech but Cherry was; and even though she’d been for her local Chinese Youth Climate Action Network (CYCAN) trainings and she had a specific purpose going there, she was still quite nervous. We spent a good few days talking over Skype on what to expect and the different things at COP and how things work and what to look for. It was fun and useful to actually be putting to good use all the things I learnt in COP 21 . We became really close good friends and would contact each other regularly just to see how the other was doing.  

Cherry and other OYE Participants meet at COP 22 in Morocco

Fast forward to March 2017,  Cherry and I were going to give our first webinar on Climate Action: Governmental and Non-Governmental sides to the story. We had prepped for a couple of weeks, I was going to talk about Non Violent Direct Action (NVDA) and Cherry was going to talk about the whole Top-Down approach and how policies made by the government affect the climate action scene.
Our session was direct and straightforward and we had about 12 people in attendance. Cherry was quite nervous as she was not so used to giving presentations like this and I  felt uneasy and worried about the quality in my deliverance as this was my first webinar I was giving. Was I going to get the message out right?
Well, at the end of the session I played a role-playing game called the River Situation and this got everyone excited and really explained how  civil societies, general public and the government interact with one another in real life situations that involve the destruction or protection of the environment. Everyone was ecstatic , and even though things could’ve been better in terms of how the interactions between participants happened , it was amazingly fun and engaging.
You can check it out here.

And here’s the beauty of it: All these videos on such diverse topics can be found all online. That’s something I considered while giving my session, How do I make this interesting for those watching it later? Not everyone can be Sal Khan from Khan academy. But it still turned out well and like with all the videos, the most important thing is the information being talked about. I enjoyed watching them, expanding my knowledge base whilst I’m half asleep on the train on the way to appointments in the morning.

Check out the whole library of recordings here.

A month or so after webinar I got in touch with the coordinators again and they liked my session and asked me to come to China to do the game there. I was slightly perplexed and ecstatic. Turns out that OYE had been invited to come to the 9th International Youth Summit On Energy and Climate Change (IYSECC) and run a 3 hour workshop and Sarah and Echo (The Coordinators of OYE) wanted my game as a part of it. They had the funding for it and I was keen to attend this conference. It was a good chance for me to experience giving a session in an international setting. I was not going to pass it up! Plus this was a huge confidence boost for me personally, as I was asked to come and bring my energy and enthusiasm to a new bigger platform .

Meeting with Chen Nengcheng -master of Chinese Academy of Sciences, PhD in Kagoshima university Japan
Meeting with Li Dihua-vice dean and associate profesor of college of architecture and landscape architecture at Peking university

The sessions during the conference had some really big people involved and that was really impressive . The speakers were professionals from all sorts of varying environmentally related fields . I have recently taken an interest in urban planning and the session on this topic were my main focus. Albeit that it was mostly in mandarin, I could always find some other participant to help translate and the slides in English (some not all) were very helpful. The Question & Answer sessions were my favourite, as I could shoot all my questions
to these amazing speakers and their responses left me more inquisitive than before.  

The D-Day of our session,  and I was ecstatic. We had an audience of about 70-90 participants out of the total 292 people in attendance, as there were parallel workshops and talks going on at any given moment. We had Sarah , Pradeep, Jasmita  and Faysal all from OYE here to talk about their journeys and climate action as a whole and I took a 45 minute chunk to do our Role-Play game. Here’s how it goes:- a coal company is about to destroy a forest for mining purposes. One village upstream will be getting new jobs and still have their clean environment but then there is another village downstream whom will be directly affected by this development. There’s a civil society trying to help and of course, as we were in China, a government side too, to give their assessments and opinions on the matter. So I split everyone into these 5 groups , gave them the scenario and a time frame and they had to work together or against each other to find a solution.


It was fun and most of all engaging. At the end during the debrief everyone’s faces were filled within awe, sadness, happiness  because they finally got a taste (of some sorts)  of what happens in the real world when people campaign or fight for their rights. It’s not always fair. Now this might sound confusing to you as a reader but maybe check it out online- the River-Role playing situation or my webinar.

Presenting on International Cooperation & Youth Action

It’s now been slightly less than a month since then, I’m back home in Malaysia, the OYE program for the year has ended and the next batch is about to start soon. If this little article (more like a rant session ) has given you some insight to this program maybe you should check it out for yourself at http://onlineyouthexchange.org/  or To hear from more OYE participants about their experiences, watch this video! You can join the OYE program for the upcoming session too, the application opens on August 15th and runs till the end of the month.

Climate Sign from Great Wall of China with OYE and IYSECC participants

                                                            Join OYE!

Take it from me, it was one hell of an experience – meeting new people, gaining new experiences, knowledge and having a whole bunch of fun all the way!

~Amalen Sathananthar

OYE Participant 2016/17

IYSECC 9.0 Scholar