Koronivia Joint Work Programme News Feed

One week after the draft conclusions for the the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA) were submitted, and the subsidiary bodies concluded their independent negotiations, representatives from Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, and France addressed the media about the work done and conclusions made at the completion of KJWA’s work at COP24.

The panel had a lukewarm response to the outcome of the first “Road Map” workshop since the 4/CP.23 mandate.  The representative from Rwanda was very disappointed about the lack of “welcome” for the IPCC 1.5 Report, which he said is a joke to African countries in particular, who are living the harsh realities of climate change now.  Mr. Bassey of Nigeria emphasized the role of small scale farmers moving forward in response to our changing climate.  Agriculture that works with local knowledge, without the extensive chemical inputs commonly associated with industrial agriculture – farming that “can be done on the streets” – is how we need to move forward with farming our fields and feeding our families.

Modalities and procedures for the implementation of the KJWA were the focus of these joint SBI/SBSTA meetings.  But South Africa’s representative noted that developing Parties, particularly the Africa Group, felt that little support for implementation came to fruition, with finance remaining as the primary roadblock moving forward.  Panelists believe guidelines need to reflect a just socioeconomic basis for food security: adaptation, absolute emissions reductions, ecological integrity, and gender responsiveness.

The session concluded with a question posed by an audience member who, like myself, was unable to attend much of last week’s negotiations – “how can other organizations such as Latin American groups participate in the SBI/SBSTA joint meetings next year?”

The French panelist who promoted France’s sustainable Agroecology initiatives responded by emphasizing engagement in the KJWA workshops via the Submissions Portal.  Participation by all parts of the agricultural community, not just Parties, is key.  Screen Shot 2018-12-14 at 1.59.02 PMWe need to ask questions, offer solutions, and promote an inclusive, equitable, just future for those feeling the drastic effects of climate change already.  As the Nigerian representative concluded, “we have the wisdom, we have the knowledge. We need to share it.”  Lots of experience from the global South remains to be shared by the farmer-scientists who have the tools and must feed the way!


Africa Day at COP24

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Africa Day is a traditional day where the African countries bring awareness to the impacts of climate change on their peoples. This day is a way for African countries to make concrete commitments for addressing climate change. At COP24, Africa Day is used to table all the climate change issues African countries face, and learn how to effectively present them to all the other COP parties. Today, African nations hosted multiple presentations addressing their efforts and challenges in implementing their NDCs. Of the many discussed, I want to highlight two important issues: international support and the power of the next generation.

1. (Lack of) International Support

One presenter joked about how Africans should have intellectual property rights over the term “poverty” because everyone thinks everywhere in Africa is basically poor. In all seriousness, the presenters did make some valid arguments in response to the lack of international (mostly financial) support for implementation of African NDCs. Collectively, the continent of Africa only emits about 2-3% of global GHG emissions. Here, African officials expressed their frustration with other Parties’ expectations from African countries, yet do not want to assist the African countries financially to achieve those expectations. Moreover, African countries stressed the importance of including adaptation measures in their NDCs, whereas most developing countries would like to focus more on mitigation. It’ll be very interesting to hear the negotiations on whether to mandate adaption in NDCs, and I will be sure to keep you all updated on that process.

2. African Youth

Several African students and young professionals used these sessions as opportunities to confront their nations’ leaders on improving conditions to keep more young people in Africa. Last year alone, about 17 million young Africans migrated to Europe in search of food, work, and education. Both the young advocates and officials had constructive dialogue on how to keep more youth in Africa while tackling tough climate change issues. Some suggested to restructure budget allocations so the majority of funding no longer goes to agriculture. Food security is very important, but, according to the youth at this event, not at the expense of stimulating the economy or educating the next generation to lead the African nations.


Sarah Bashaan: My Stand Out Mediator

Sarah_Bashaan_800The chairs and facilitators of COP 23’s sub bodies are responsible for assisting parties to reach agreement. As we observe the negotiations, we tend to focus on the Parties and their interests. However, the facilitators and chairs of these high-level negotiations must accommodate the interests of individual Parties while helping all Parties to agree. During COP 23, with constant APA plenary meeting suspensions, the Co-Chairs had a difficult task getting Parties to consensus.

The two co-chairs of the APA are women: Sarah Bashaan and Jo Tyndall. Bashaan stood out to me. She joined the Saudi delegation to the UNFCCC in 2012 as a negotiator on Climate Change policy in Response Measures and Mitigation. As Co-Chair of the APA, Bashaan had a particular eloquence in the way she handled the negotiations.

During the APA closing plenary, South Africa, on behalf of the Africa Group, sought to adjourn the meeting due to unresolved items on the agenda. Bashaan responded by first recognizing that the APA Co-Chairs understood the importance of the issue raised by the Africa Group. Second, Bashaan reminded all parties that they had agreed in an earlier SBI decision to complete the APA’s work by noon that day. Bashaan thus reminded Parties that their own procedural desires, not her own, urged continuing the closing plenary as rescheduled.

bc5fc9_dfd4896ce1f04e8094ce9a9d12eb1a3c~mv2Looking back at my experience at the COP and attending many APA sessions, I notice a few things about Bashaan’s leadership tactics. First, she keeps a calm, neutral tone in her voice. Second, she uses the Parties’ prior agreements to get them to cooperate. Third, she respectfully corrects Parties when they use incorrect information. Taken together, Bashaan’s leadership style is effective at helping Parties come to an understanding.


COP15 coming to a close…

As the negotiations are coming to a close, a select number of world leaders are struggling to come to an agreement.

Here is a smattering of recent press:

World leaders come together to continue meeting

The world’s leaders have come together once again to move the climate negotiations forward, after having gathered in smaller groups during the afternoon.  At the same time the UN conference continues in the form of large meetings.  Barack Obama, Wen Jiabao, Ban Ki-moon and Fredrik Reinfeldt were among the speakers in plenary during the afternoon. Continue reading


Happy Human Rights Day!

Human Rights Panel

On this day in 1948, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  To celebrate the anniversary of this historic text and the principles it proclaims, several leaders in the human rights field gave a panel presentation today at COP15.  Panelists included Martin Wagner of Earthjustice and Ulrich Holstein of the U.N. Human Rights Council, as well as distinguished speakers from the Seychelles, Kenya, and the Inuit people of Canada.  They each emphasized the vital importance of taking human rights into account during the climate change negotiations.  The panelists explained that emissions reductions targets are inherently a human rights issue because anything over 1.5 degrees and 350 ppm condemns entire nations to devastating consequences and, in many cases, complete disappearance.  Continue reading