Empowering People to Solve Climate Change

    Educating and empowering citizens to achieve climate mitigation and adaptation is an essential goal for every nation. Article 6 of the UNFCCC states Parties shall provide educational and public awareness programs, and train personnel, in order to maximize “public participation” in solving the climate crisis. Therefore, in addition to Parties sending delegates to the international Conference of Parties (COP), the people of these nations will learn to lead the way in fulfilling their countries’ commitments nationally, regionally, and locally.

The ultimate goal of the UNFCCC.

The ultimate objective of the UNFCCC.

     At past COPs, Parties have been working on how best to engage the public through Article 6 implementation. Decision 11/CP.8 at COP8 in New Delhi indicated that Parties may use “national focal points” to facilitate the sharing of information and opportunities for international collaboration. The YOUNGO Article 6 Working Group Toolkit for enhancing youth participation and education identifies these focal points as crucial contacts for youth groups initiating advocacy actions and projects. Case studies of successful youth programs from all around the planet show that Article 6 implementation has tremendous potential for educating, empowering, and engaging citizens on climate issues.

Educating youth is an essential objective of Article 6.

Educating youth is an essential goal of Article 6.

    At COP18 in Doha, Qatar, decision 15/CP.18 from a work programme on Article 6 stated the importance of grass-root communities adapting to the impacts of climate change.  The Parties are seeking to empower citizens to find solutions through methods such as improved communication and training people to educate others. The decision calls for Parties to seek input from all members and groups of the public, as well as encourage all public stakeholders to participate in the climate change negotiation process.

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    At COP19 I will have the honor of collaborating with the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL). In Warsaw, my focus will be on public participation under Article 6. The above decision from Doha calls for the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) to organize an annual in-session dialogue for the purpose of accomplishing the six elements of Article 6: education, training, public awareness, public participation, public access to information and international cooperation. I hope to observe all I can about what will transpire at these dialogues. Public participation is an exciting approach to changing behaviors internationally and mitigating anthropogenic climate change from the ground up!