The UN’s top climate change official Patricia Espinosa briefed today embassies in Berlin regarding the UN climate conference in Bonn in November (COP23, 6 – 17 November). She shared how diplomats can contribute to making the Paris Agreement operational and highlighted where they can support ministers and leaders back home.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is wonderful to be back in Berlin, meeting with colleagues and peers and seeing so many friendly faces. I want to thank the Government of Germany for inviting me to join you and brief you on the upcoming COP 23 UN climate change conference, which will be held at the World Conference Center in Bonn – where the climate change secretariat and many other UN agencies are located.
The arrangements for this year’s climate conference are not unprecedented – the COP has been held in Bonn before – but they are unusual. The country where the conference will be held will not preside over the meeting. This unusual arrangement is extremely important.
This year, the Government of Fiji will assume the COP presidency.
The cooperation, mainly from the German government, that enables the small island state to step up and lead is important because it embodies exactly what is needed at a global level. The world must work together to meet the challenges of climate change and sustainable development.
The developed world must support all nations – regardless of size, or location, or contribution to greenhouse gas emissions – in the effort to fulfill national climate plans and chart their own low-emission, highly resilient development path.
For Fiji, this path is critical. Pacific islands – and all low-lying islands – are some of the most vulnerable nations. For many, the threat of climate change is existential. We are already losing islands to rising seas and many struggle to adapt to costly extreme weather events, eroding coastlines and saltwater intrusion into water supplies and agricultural lands.
Cooperation makes COP 23 possible. It also raises awareness of the vulnerability of islands and all nations. And it opens the door to even more collaboration and support – for resilient communities and for the transition to growth powered by clean energy.
Fiji and Germany are laying the groundwork for success in Bonn in November. But it is not just cooperative planning and preparation that will signal success for COP 23. We must also see steps forward in the process and in global climate action.
Excellencies, with 155 nations that have ratified the agreement – and if your nation is among those I thank you – please allow me to share what we must get done at this year’s conference. And let me share how you can contribute to its success.
The step forward by governments this year must be significant. In this new and dynamic era of implementation of the Paris Agreement, work must progress quickly to make the agreement fully operational.
Right now, focus is on the operating manual – the technical guidelines and procedures – of the agreement.
This work has a 2018 deadline, so our step forward at COP 23 needs to be a full stride towards a strong implementation system that is effective in achieving the goals outlined in the agreement and goal 13 of the Agenda for Sustainable Development.
In 2018, there will be an initial opportunity to take stock of progress towards those goals. COP 23 must also be a full stride forward towards an effective and equitable plan to assess progress at the 2018 Facilitative Dialogue.
Taking these significant steps forward will be a challenge, especially considering recent shifts in the global political landscape. But movement forward by the community of nations takes us closer to transforming our on-the-ground reality.
For this reason, COP 23 must advance several crucial issues:
Moving the needle on these issues is not easy. But it is imperative.
We must now turn the national contributions by all nations – backbone of the Paris Agreement – into blueprints for a new model of investment, trade, energy, transportation, urban growth and meeting human need.
So COP 23 must advance global climate action, action by key groups that hold great potential to truly transform reality – businesses and investors, regions and cities.
These groups – non-Party stakeholders in our process – were instrumental to a strong agreement in Paris and further strengthened their support in the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action.
They have also been vocal advocates for climate action in recent months.
Businesses and asset owners worth trillions of dollars have reiterated their support for the Paris Agreement. Clean energy, efficient operations, green bonds and sustainable supply chains are already delivering bottom line gains to businesses and investors.
Cooperative city initiatives like Bonn-based ICLEI, C40 and the Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy are growing and helping countries achieve their emission reduction goals. I was recently at the Austrian World Summit, where I heard many examples of regional governments taking action.
COP 23 must build on this foundation and make global climate action ‘the way business is done now.’ And not just in respect to Goal 13 of the Sustainable Development Goals but across the 2030 agenda.
This action must inspire country-level policies and practices that incentivize transformation. It can take each and every nation one step closer to fulfilling their national Paris Agreement contribution – and a blueprint to build on.
This is where the COP 23 leadership opportunity – for Fiji and for Germany – is also your leadership opportunity. It is your opportunity to contribute to COP 23 success.
Just as no one government alone and no one sector of the economy alone can meet the climate change challenge – no one ministry or government department can rise to the challenge. We must have action by all.
Embassies are central to this effort. In supporting the ministers and leaders who come to Bonn, you can also support those that cannot be there and support action.
So, let me be specific in terms of what you may wish to communicate from our meeting here today back to your capitals.
We need outcomes in Bonn in November 2017 that reflect the extraordinary action happening across the globe nationally, internationally and among many, many partners.
We need governments – and also wider society – to have no doubt that the vision forged in Paris 2015 is being realized and implementation is well underway.
We already know of many new and inspirational initiatives that are set to be announced between the opening of the UN General Assembly and Climate Week in New York in September and at COP 23 – but we need many more.
At the various events planned, including the high-level events, I would ask your governments to outline in clear and powerful terms the achievements that have been made in the past two years and deliver inspiring announcements about the new ones to come.
Governments should also encourage high-level private sector and subnational leaders to do the same across key sectors like energy, transport cities, investment and agriculture. And across the sustainable management of natural systems like forests and oceans and enabling measures like gender and education.
There is so much happening and so many positive things to tell and to showcase, and COP 23 is the platform.
The UN will – working with you and with others – provide the amplification and the public awareness so these example of positive, far reaching action are communicated and understood worldwide.
Indeed, what you say about what you are doing – and what you are poised to do – should leave the world with no doubt that national and cooperative engagement is speeding ahead in what were once unimaginable ways.
In turn, this wealth of current action and the future ambition planned must also find expression in the Paris Agreement’s operational guidelines when finalized in 2018.
Indeed, these guidelines need to be rich in purpose, clear and readable in intent and able to give the Agreement the longevity it requires for taking the world to a future that is well below a 2-degree C temperature rise.
We have 100 days until COP 23 opens in Bonn. I ask that over the next 100 days, you actively seek to support Germany, support cooperation with Fiji and support the commitment to make Bonn a UN-led hub of sustainable development and climate action.
In doing so, you support the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement and your country’s contribution to the agreement. But perhaps more importantly, you join the growing momentum towards development that does not come at the expense of other people or the planet we all share.
Together, we can get the world on course to a stable and secure future, where peace and prosperity flourish and opportunity is open to all. COP 23 takes us one big step closer to this vision.
Thank you and I hope to see you in Bonn in November."
The secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is hosting COP 23, in close collaboration with the Government of Fiji, who will serve as the President of the meeting and will provide the political leadership to move forward international cooperation on climate change. The Government of Germany, as the host country of the secretariat, along with the City of Bonn and the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, are providing valuable political and budgetary support to the organization of this major international event, which is expected to attract more than 20,000 people.
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