COP 23 Events Discuss Oceans, Water, Agriculture, Transition from Coal: 10-11 November Highlights
Photo by IISD/ENB | Angeles Estrada
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A side event titled, ‘Moving beyond Coal after Paris: Can the US and the EU Retire Their Coal Plants in Time to Deliver on the Paris Targets?’ discussed opportunities for, and challenges related to, moving global economies away from coal.

Agriculture Action Day events highlighted solutions for addressing climate change mitigation and adaptation in the agriculture sector.

Oceans Action Day events highlighted progress on issues related to oceans and climate change, and the diverse efforts of the ocean community to identify and implement solutions.

11 November 2017: Various side events and Action Days took place on the sidelines of UNFCCC COP 23 on Friday and Saturday, 10-11 November, addressing, inter alia, energy policy, sustainable urban development, peatlands, food security and transitioning economies away from coal. Oceans, Agriculture and Water Action Days also convened.

A side event titled, ‘Energy Policy Trade-offs within the Broader Sustainable Development Challenge,’ discussed capacity development for energy policies and sustainable development alternatives, focusing on integrated analysis system models. Speakers discussed: the development of quantitative tools enabling more effective identification of interlinkages between climate, water and energy; integrated solutions for water, energy and land; and emerging methodologies to better integrate the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The event was organized by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).

A side event titled, ‘Water for Urban Resilience,’ convened as part of Water Action Day, and explored new ways to mobilize urban and coastal communities, government officials and the private sector around building resilient, climate- and water-smart cities. Speakers emphasized: the need to foster local partnerships, and work closely with key stakeholders to co-design and implement nature-based solutions; links between the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and climate action; DRR as an essential element of sustainable development; circular economy approaches to water management; traditional and nature-based solutions; and the need to connect urban water policy to the climate negotiations, suggesting that the SDGs provide an appropriate entry point. This event was organized by Global Climate Action (GCA).

A side event titled, ‘Climate Action for Food Security: Harvesting Adaptation and Mitigation Benefits in the Land Sector,’ focused on technology, women, indigenous peoples, finance, youth and climate. Speakers noted, inter alia: that climate justice, gender, equality and human rights are key in adapting to and mitigating climate change; the need for building young farmers’ capacity at all levels in order to ensure a sustainable future; the need to give a voice to indigenous peoples in addressing climate change; and that agriculture is the most important source of employment for women in lower and middle-income countries. The event was hosted by the UN.

Michael Bloomberg, Bloomberg Philanthropies, noted that 800,000 people, three times that of Bonn’s population, die from coal’ s effects every year.

A side event titled, ‘Moving beyond Coal after Paris: Can the US and the EU Retire Their Coal Plants in Time to Deliver on the Paris Targets?’ discussed opportunities for, and challenges related to, moving global economies away from coal. Michael Bloomberg, Bloomberg Philanthropies, noted that 800,000 people, three times that of Bonn’s population, die from coal’ s effects every year. Jochen Flasbarth, State Secretary, German Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), affirmed that carbon neutrality is possible and that this can be achieved in the next two decades. He praised German society for making the decision to move away from coal. Jennifer Morgan, Executive Director, Greenpeace International, noted the devastating effects of coal on human health, and underscored the need for more advocacy campaigns. She said the transition away from coal must be “managed,” highlighting the need to ensure job creation in a coal-free economy. This event was organized by the European Climate Foundation.

A side event titled, ‘Sustainable Mobility in a Changing Climate,’ discussed mobility as a central element to transform global economies and help the most vulnerable live in a more sustainable world, considering that the transport sector accounts for 23% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Speakers emphasized, among other things: the need to reposition the transport sector as a solution for regional integration and sustainability, health improvement and SDG synergies; transportation as a key avenue to move implementation of the Paris Agreement forward; institutional challenges in decision making on transportation due to conflicts of interest between central and local governments; the importance of training transport operators on new safety standards and more efficient fuel use practices; and new technologies to help the sector meet the target of a 30% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030. This event was organized by the World Bank, DESA and the Sustainable Mobility for All (Sum4All) Initiative.

Side events also addressed: local actions toward climate-resilient and sustainable cities in East Asia; the role of non-state actors in the transition to 100% renewable energy; the needs of cities, project developers and financiers in the preparation of bankable and sustainable city development projects to reduce carbon emissions and build climate resilience; shifting personal mobility through innovations in transport technologies, systems and planning; and local action to sustain peatlands globally. [ENBOTS Coverage 10 November] [ENBOTS Coverage 11 November] [IISD RS Coverage of UN-REDD Programme Event: The Need for Local Action to Sustain Peatlands Globally] [IISD RS Coverage of Selected Side Events] [IISD RS Coverage of COP 23]

Agriculture Action Day events highlighted solutions for addressing climate change mitigation and adaptation in the agriculture sector, focusing more specifically on, inter alia: low-carbon livestock; integrated landscape management; measures to reduce food waste; climate data to inform precision agriculture; enhancing soil carbon storage; and revitalizing traditional agricultural practices. Speakers highlighted how the measures presented contribute to reaching the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement, and how discussions during the Action Day could inform the 2018 Facilitative Dialogue. Stakeholders exchanged experiences and ideas on successful agriculture-based climate actions; discussed challenges and pathways for enhancing collaboration across communities and scaling-up from pilot projects; and identified options to reconcile the need to feed a growing world population, while reducing GHG emissions from the agriculture sector and preventing land degradation.

Agriculture Action Day events were organized by, inter alia, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the Government of New Zealand, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Norway’s International Climate Forest Initiative (ICFI), the Center for International Forest Research (CIFOR), World Bank, CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN Environment (UNEP) and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC). [IISD RS Coverage of Agriculture Action Day]

Oceans Action Day events highlighted progress on issues related to oceans and climate change, and the diverse efforts of the ocean community to identify and implement solutions. Participants discussed lessons learned, examples and best practices for replicating and transferring successful experiences on a multitude of ocean-related topics, including: ecosystem-based management (EBM); scientific research; fisheries and aquaculture; blue carbon; migration; risk management; and financial mechanisms. Participants heard addresses from the President of Palau Tommy Remengesau, Prime Minister of Tuvalu Enele Sopoaga and UN Special Envoy for the Ocean and President of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) Peter Thomson, Fiji. Several countries added their names to the ‘Because the Ocean Declaration,’ which aims to advance action on climate change, oceans and sustainable development.

Oceans Action Day events were organized by, inter alia, FAO, Global Ocean Forum, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO), IUCN, Ocean and Climate Platform, Governments of Chile, Grenada and Seychelles, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and The Nature Conservancy. [IISD Coverage of Oceans Action Day]


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