Daily Archives: November 7, 2021

Justice in the Ocean-Climate Dialogue

By Student Delegate Caroline Fullam

COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, amplified how deeply the ocean and climate change are intertwined through Ocean Action Day on November 5, 2021. Ocean Action Day built upon Small Island Developing States (SIDS) advocacy within the ocean-climate nexus[1] and showcased increased participation from other parties on ocean issues within the climate context. The events recognized the need to account for climate effects on the ocean as well as disasters brought on by a climate impacted ocean. Beyond this, at the Ocean and Coastal Zones Action Event, panelists considered a different question: How should the ocean be used?

The common answer? Justly.

For Fiji, just use includes securing legal rights to resources within the nation’s exclusive economic zone. Exclusive economic zones are established under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea but are being affected by climate led sea level rise that is expected to force low lying island populations to migrate.[2] Fiji raised the issue at the Ocean and Coastal Zones Action Event to advocate for permanent recognition of rights to their current marine resources.

The Nature Conservancy[3] spoke about innovative finance projects helping large ocean states sustainably use their own marine resources. In partnership with Seychelles, a debt-for-nature swap was established in 2016 to help fund marine conservation and sustainable management projects.[4] Now, a similar partnership has been made with Belize to help them protect 30% of their ocean territory.[5] The Nature Conservancy views their role as a support to countries in their efforts to realize their ambitions.

Coastal Oceans Research and Development- Indian Ocean (CORDIO) East Africa[6] supported the inclusion of justice in knowledge building of the ocean’s potential. CORDIO stated data monitoring and management needs to include indigenous and local knowledge- not only scientific knowledge. Also, there needs to be an understanding of the social and economic dynamics of a community- not only its biophysical realities. Grasping these types of knowledge can help to bring action that is not only scaled up but scaled out to reach a larger group of communities. Then, as CORDIO stated, communities’ needs could be met and sustained.

Community engagement and localized input were a common theme of the Ocean and Coastal Zones Action Event. Rare, the Center for Behavior and the Environment, takes a people-based approach to developing ocean-climate solutions.[7] Rare shared their position that a human centered approach connects the social and cultural aspects of a community to new economic and ecological systems, which is important as communities become guardians of those systems.

The SEA’TIES project[8] similarly advocated for an integration of environmental, economic, social, and equitable issues that allow local communities to identify the adaptation projects that will be most effective for their local needs.

As one panelist remarked, the ocean, unlike land, has not been cultivated and managed over centuries. As governments, companies, non-profits and other stakeholders develop innovative ways to sustainably use the ocean modern principles of human rights need to be incorporated.  As each panelist spoke, the message became increasingly clear: Local communities must play an integral role in design and management of plans, and benefit from sustainable ocean uses that bring ocean-climate solutions. The call for ocean-climate action at Ocean Action Day was a call for just action mindful of differing needs and vulnerabilities.

[1]  https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/10.1146/annurev-environ-012320-083355

[2] https://www.reuters.com/article/climate-change-pacific-fishing-idAFL5N2L232C

[3] https://www.nature.org/en-us/

[4] https://seyccat.org/about-us/#our-structure

[5] https://www.nature.org/en-us/what-we-do/our-insights/perspectives/belize-transforming-caribbean-blue-bond/

[6] https://cordioea.net/

[7] https://rare.org/program/center-for-behavior-the-environment/

[8] https://ocean-climate.org/en/seaties-2/

Listen Up: Including Youth Voices in International Ocean-Climate Negotiations

By Student Delegate Heidi Johnson

In the months leading up to COP26, youth leaders shared concerns relating to the climate change crisis. These youth received support from leaders who recognize that youth should play a crucial role in climate negotiations because youth will face the consequences of climate inaction. Supportive leaders vowed to address youth climate change concerns at the COP26 summit. But these promises fall short, as youth should have an opportunity to participate in negotiations directly.

The U.K., charged with hosting COP26, provided an opportunity for youth to propose ideas and concrete actions to address climate change. Youth responded with the “Youth4Climate Manifesto,” created in late September 2021 by nearly 400 youth from around the world, to address climate action’s central urgencies and priorities. While this manifesto was being produced, Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi pledged that world leaders would listen to youth demands ahead of the COP26 summit, including a transparent climate finance system, sustainable and responsible tourism, and eliminating fossil fuels by 2030. Youth asked that the COP26 agenda cover these key objectives.

COP26 negotiators appear to have taken youth’s request to heart and discussed these concerns during informal consultations on the periodic review of the long-term global goal. The Blue Zone also highlighted these concerns in side-events, such as in an event on aligning export finance with the Paris Agreement. The Green Zone too addressed these concerns, opening COP26 Finance Day with an event discussing the scorecard on insurance, fossil fuels, and climate change. During COP26, leaders and activists continue to stress the need for long-term thinking that considers climate change’s effects on future generations.

Still, some leaders contend that more can be done. Vermont Law School’s COP26 Delegation hosted a kick-off event, housed by the Virtual Ocean Pavilion and promoted by Nausicaá, providing youth the opportunity to meet a climate negotiator and ocean champion. Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT) CEO Angelique Pouponneau offered invaluable insight into the intriguing world of climate negotiations. Pouponneau, as a lawyer and advocate, discussed the need for youth involvement in ocean-climate negotiations, noting that there remains a need to include all voices.

Pouponneau discussed youth opportunities in climate change action, emphasizing that youth need not wait for COP to influence change because the action starts at home. Pouponneau began her journey in ocean advocacy as a youth, helping with SIDS Youth AIMS Hub (SYAH), a youth-led organization seeking to implement youth-led sustainable development in Small Island Developing States (SIDS). She recommends that youth take a similar step by joining organizations such as the Youth Nongovernmental Organization (YOUNGO), which seeks to ensure that young perspectives are considered in multilateral UNFCCC decision-making processes. She also encourages youth to participate by writing a letter or publishing a blog because “we need to make sure that young people’s voices are being heard.”

Nonetheless, Pouponneau believes youth also have a role to play at COP and identifies young people as the “moral conscience not just of the negotiations and delegations, but of the decisions they will automatically inherit in the coming years.” As an established negotiator, Pouponneau shared her top 5 tips for young COP negotiators, including: 1) Come prepared to COP negotiations with your three strongest asks because negotiators’ time is limited; 2) Consider important aspects of your asks, such as, why is this important? What are the connectivity issues? Why should we stop working in silos?; 3) Take time to educate others because they may not share your knowledge; 4) Maintain your confidence; and 5) “Go for it!”

Youth should directly participate in the ocean-climate decision-making process because youth have a unique interest in protecting our global ocean. Considering this interest, the Youth4Ocean Forum seeks to engage young ocean change-makers with a common goal of ensuring a future healthy ocean that will continue to sustain life on earth. This youth forum provides youth with opportunities to speak up, share ideas, present projects, and connect with like-minded people and experts. Nausicaá supports the Youth4Ocean Forum by facilitating calls for youth marine project submissions for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of marine ecosystems.

Should ocean-climate negotiations fail to prevent irreparable harm, youth and future generations will bear the burden of enduring ensuing consequences. Hence, youth would do well to heed Pouponneau’s advice, and go for it!