Two weeks after the Paris Agreement on climate change was opened for signature, an estimated 700 representatives from intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, national governments and the private sector gathered in Washington, DC, for “Climate Action 2016,” to continue building momentum and partnerships for global action to address climate change.
The two-day event involved keynote speeches and round table discussions in which participants discussed the challenges and opportunities to turn the “intended” nationally determined contributions (INDCs) developed under the context of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) into “implemented” NDCs.
6 May 2016: Two weeks after the Paris Agreement on climate change was opened for signature, an estimated 700 representatives from intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, national governments and the private sector gathered in Washington, DC, for “Climate Action 2016,” to continue building momentum and partnerships for global action to address climate change. The two-day event involved keynote speeches and round table discussions in which participants discussed the challenges and opportunities to turn the “intended” nationally determined contributions (INDCs) developed under the context of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) into “implemented” NDCs.
Opening the event on 5 May 2016, at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC, US, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlighted that the discussions would focus on resilience, sustainable energy, sustainable land-use, cities, transport and tools for decision making. He also emphasized the need to discuss practical solutions and develop partnerships to address those challenges. Ban said the event would “further solidify the coalitions that were highlighted at my Climate Summit in 2014, and in the Action Agenda in Lima and Paris.” He also announced that a similar event would convene in September, on the margins of the G20 meeting in China.
World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim called attention to a recently released World Bank report, titled ‘High and Dry: Climate Change, Water and the Economy,’ which projects that economic growth in some regions could be cut by as much as 6% due to water scarcity while the cost of dealing with flooding is expected to increase from around $6 billion dollars annually to $1 trillion dollars by 2050. He reviewed the World Bank Group’s Climate Action Plan, which was developed soon after the Paris Agreement was reached, and highlighted, inter alia, that the World Bank will help countries put a price on carbon and will seek to ensure “sustainable mobility for all” by helping to transform the world’s transport systems.
Also in the opening session, French Minister and President of the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, Ségolène Royal, urged stakeholders to invest in “the world of today and the world of tomorrow.” She appealed to cities and investors to join with coalitions on pricing carbon and developing green finance, and called for actions to be guided by ecological justice.
During a discussion on ‘Building Resilience,’ moderator Maarten van Aalst, Director of the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Change Centre, noted that resilience is a shared goal for all of the agreements reached in 2015, from the agreement in Sendai, Japan, on disaster risk reduction (DRR) to the Paris Agreement on climate change. He noted that resilience involves not only dealing with negative consequences, but also with “doing things smarter.” He reminded participants that, later in May, the global community will gather at the World Humanitarian Summit, where discussions will focus on the consequences of “what happens when we are not resilient.”
Shaun Donovan, Director of the US Office of Management and Budget (OMB), delivered a keynote address. He recalled the power of Hurricane Sandy in focusing attention on the impacts of climate change and said that, until people recognize that climate change has direct impacts on their lives, they will not take action. He emphasized the need to shift from “intended” NDCs to “implemented” NDCs, and called for bringing the Paris Agreement into force as soon as possible. Another speaker said chief executive officers of private sector companies are easily convinced to participate in partnerships on climate change now, whereas they were not so easily engaged in the past. The need for updated risk calculations was also noted, as was the need to help people understand risk management and to price risk.
During a session on ‘Catalyzing Climate-Smart Land Use,’ organized by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) together with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and We Mean Business, US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said it is important to emphasize economic opportunities when talking about climate-smart agriculture. He noted that a series of hubs and sub-hubs in the US are examining the vulnerabilities of US agriculture to climate change and providing information to US producers, and added that the language used with conveying this information to farmers is important. He stressed that climate-smart land use has to be “front and center” if the Paris Agreement goals are to be achieved. Among other speakers on this panel, Maria Fernanda Mejia, President of Kellogg’s Latin America work, stressed that climate-smart agriculture is important for Kellogg.
During the final session, panelists discussed “Galvanizing the Groundswell.” Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever, emphasized the need to focus on value chains and to use them to address climate change. He explained that he is trying to make Ben and Jerry’s ice cream production carbon neutral. Ahmad Alhendawi, UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, recalled that the youth movement pushed for the Paris Agreement on climate change, and stated that “Youth are not the future. We’re the present.”
A number of new partnerships and projects were also launched during the 5-6 May 2016 event. The New Climate Economy, WRI Ross Center and C40 announced an international initiative that will make the economic case for better urban development worldwide. The ‘Coalition for Urban Transitions’ brings together approximately 20 organizations to support decision making on urbanization at the national level, and to conduct economic research and in-country engagement to help governments put effective urban infrastructure investment at the heart of their growth strategies.
Hakima El Haite, Moroccan Minister of Environment and incoming UNFCCC COP 22 President, Jeffrey Sachs, Executive Director of SDSN, Peter Bakker, CEO of WBCSD, and Gino Van Begin, Secretary General of ICLEI, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to announce the ‘Low Emissions Solutions Conference,’ which will convene in parallel to COP 22 in Marrakesh, Morocco, from 14-17 November 2016. This event will seek to promote knowledge and information exchange, discussion of best practices, and prioritization of future research.
In addition, the Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture (GACSA), which was launched during the 2014 Climate Summit, organized a side event to showcase its work to address food security and sustainable development in the face of climate change.
The Climate Action 2016 event was co-hosted by: Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General; Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group; Michael R. Bloomberg, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change and Founding Partner, Compact of Mayors; Naoko Ishii, Chief Executive Officer, GEF; Judith Rodin, President, Rockefeller Foundation; Peter Bakker, Chief Executive Officer, WBCSD; Nigel Topping, Chief Executive Officer, We Mean Business; and Wallace Loh, President, University of Maryland. [UN Press Release] [UN Secretary-General’s Statement] [GEF News Release] [World Bank President’s Statement] [Climate Action 2016 Twitter Feed] [Coalition for Urban Transitions] [Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture] [IISD RS Sources] [World Bank Press Release]