When I attended my first international climate change conference in Copenhagen in 2009, I was surprised by the limited opportunities to showcase the work that civil society, especially business leaders and innovators, were doing in their communities to tackle climate change.
It was not that these groups were not interested in participating in the conversations taking place in Copenhagen—on the contrary. Unfortunately, there were limited opportunities to share how innovative partnerships were already producing concrete results in the fight against climate change. Such a demonstration could have potentially helped bring together the national governments negotiating the outcome of the conference called the Copenhagen Accord.
Whether or not you think the Copenhagen conference was a success (I had my own thoughts after returning from the conference), one aspect that has substantially improved in the UNFCCC process since then is the ways in which non-state actors are participating and contributing to the overall goals of the international negotiations. Here is a recent interview (in Spanish) with Fernando Tudela, Mexico’s former Vice-minister of the Environment. In it, he explains how the Mexican government purposefully focused on new ways to engage both national governments and civil society to propose solutions to climate change and how this was critical to the success of the 2010 Cancun Climate Change Conference.
This year’s conference in Warsaw took the engagement by non-state actors to another level, truly turning the Warsaw conference into an opportunity to showcase concrete climate actions. Governments are increasingly open to acknowledging the work being done by non-state actors, learning from it, and perhaps finding ways to work together to take these efforts to scale. Thus, the Warsaw conference included a series of special events recognizing the activities that a myriad of actors, including cities and regional governments, corporations, and women’s groups are undertaking to address climate change. Most of these events took place inside the main conference venue, allowing national government officials to directly engage with corporate leaders and social innovators who are implementing concrete solutions to climate change.
The initiative I work on, Momentum for Change, played a prominent role during the Warsaw conference, highlighting specific examples of how communities, businesses, and civil society are coming together to tackle climate change. You can watch the main recognition event here:
The question now is how do Peru and France, as the countries responsible for organizing the upcoming international climate change conferences in 2014 and 2015, respectively, continue to make progress in bridging the world of the negotiations with the world of implementation led by international development agencies, business entities, civil society, and communities affected by climate change? It will not be an easy task, given the significant pressure for these countries to have the global community reach a universal climate agreement by 2015. There is also a busy schedule on the road to 2015, including concluding the negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda. However, as long as the upcoming host governments continue to recognize that the involvement of non-state actors is essential to the success of the international negotiations, I expect to see an increased appetite for these actors’ participation. This will surely create the required groundswell of support for stronger action by all stakeholders, which will help secure an ambitious universal climate agreement in 2015.
Keeping in mind the recent successes achieved by the marriage equality movement in the US, I wanted to share a video that explains how some of these achievements came to be. In this video recorded during the Nathan Cummings Foundation’s Strategic Planning Process you can watch an amazing presentation by Ted Trimpa where he discusses how the marriage equality movement created a successful infrastructure to launch and maintain an effective national campaign. I wonder if some of the lessons he shared could be picked up by climate campaigners in the US and beyond, especially the linkage between philanthropy, policy and political spending to create social change.
Lately I have become more interested on the importance of effective use of infographics and data visualization to communicate a message, especially how it could help to share data related to my work with Momentum for Change. I am planning to attend a few conferences this year like see conference and may try to go to re:publica again this year to keep in touch with agencies working in this space.
I think it is straight forward and a good way to get a taste of a 106 page report. We are currently working on a report on the Momentum for Change activities from last year, and would include some infographics. I’ll share here when ready as well.
So my mother has always asked me about what I do at work, and it has always been hard to explain. Below some of the one-line descriptions that I have given:
– I work to promote youth participation in international decision-making process;
– I help Fortune 500 companies empower young immigrants in New York through volunteerism;
– I help to facilitate a network of foundations supporting environmental work around the world;
– I support international climate change negotiations on helping to build the capacity of developing countries;
– I support international climate change negotiations on how to financially support developing countries in their efforts to address climate change.
Note how the one line has been getting longer throughout the years… But now that I work on Momentum for Change at the United Nations Climate Change secretariat, I can just say that I work on fighting climate change. I even get to share these amazing little videos that tell more about my work! Enjoy!
Short description of the UNFCCC 2012 Momentum for Change Lighthouse Actvities
Short trailer for the launch of Momentum for Change: Women for Results
Short trailer for the launch of Momentum for Change: Innovative Financing for Climate-friendly Investment Trailer
Check out this nice little video on the history of the climate change communications by the Norwegian organization Cicero. It is short, funny and to the point! Good example of how to communicate on what the negotiations are at a very macro level but in a way that it is not difficult to understand. Enjoy!
I don’t like the fact that they play with seemingly real food in the first one… The second one is pretty cool, and I think I had seen it a few months ago. It would probably play well with some of my beer-drinking friends
In any case, both are interesting examples of using creative ways to communicate with the general public about climate change and it may be worthwhile to share them around.
A few weeks ago I helped to organize a workshop in the Dominican Republic to help governments in the region share best experiences in the fields of education, outreach and public participation in climate change. All of this is enshrined in Article 6 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). See the presentation/animation that I put together for the event:
I was also impressed with a video shared by the representative from Jamaica. It really leverages the power that music can play in raising the general public’s awareness about climate change. See below:
By the time I got around to writing about the Bonn April 2010 meetings, I found out that a lot of people have already written a lot about it, so I’m just going to list a few pieces that I thought are worth-reading:
Yesterday, I learned about an initiative called Plant for the Planet. It is spearheaded by an organization called the Global Marshall Plan out of Germany. Their motto is “stop talking, start planting,” and has gained significant media exposure.
The face of the campaign is a 12-year old boy named Felix Finkbeiner, who has been able to convince politicians, activists and celebrities to let him take pictures of them with his hand over their mouths, as if he was shutting them up – it’s pretty nice
The group plans to do a big “tree planting party” at the next round of climate change negotiations in Bonn this coming May. They expect to bring thousands of children, who like Felix plan to tell the negotiators to shut up and start planting. It’ll be a sight to see!
I find it particularly amazing how a fairly unexpected win by Scott Brown in Massachusetts may derail any chance of securing a legally binding treaty on climate change. Even before his election, the potential of passing a cap-and-trade bill in the US Congress seemed as a very challenging undertaking. Now, without a filibuster-majority, there is not any chance to pass a comprehensive climate change bill this year. Instead, the US Congress will likely pass a bipartisan energy bill, focusing on issues of energy security and efficiency, but without the much needed cap in carbon emissions. This would pretty much relinquish the Obama administration’s ability to cut a real global deal with legally binding provisions, and may even throw away the possibility of implementing the Copenhagen Accords.
Key developing countries such as China and India already seized the opportunity to jump ship from signing into the Copenhagen Accords, which they were responsible for putting together (China in particular was responsible for deleting any mention of mitigation targets by developed countries by 2050). One of the reasons they have claimed for not following up with their commitments was the election of Scott Brown and the unlikelihood of an improved US negotiating position.
I hope that the Obama administration is able to pull some type of miracle and convince some Republicans to sign up to a comprehensive climate bill, otherwise the whole world will be condemned by parochial politics in Massachusetts.