Category Archives: For the World

Education for sustainable development in the Seychelles

By Student Delegate Leslie Terrones

Education is one of the main pillars that serve as the basis of every society. Its importance has been acknowledged worldwide, being considered as one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. The SDG 4 focuses on ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all. Considering this, it is in the hands of the governments to assure the provision of such service, making sure every citizen in their territory has access to it.

Even if the situation is way better than it used to be decades ago, people still face many barriers to accessing education such as lack of funding, having no teacher -or an untrained one-, long distances to school, lack of learning material or even having been born the wrong gender, etc. This is even worse in developing countries where around 59 million children do not have access to education as a basic need.  One of the consequences of not having access to education is -amongst others- the emergence of social problems, as the people who can’t afford it or don’t receive the proper information do not have the right tools to analyze the pros and cons of the activities that are being developed in their territories and might not understand their impacts.

Despite that, many Ministries of Education in Small states have started to incorporate the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) approach into their education reform initiatives and efforts. Also, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has helped many Small Island Developing States (SIDS) implement the Global Action Programme (GAP) on ESD in their school action plans, especially focusing on Climate Change Education and its inclusion in policies, plans, and programs.

According to a report published by UNESCO, due to the vulnerability SIDS face due to climate change, education plays a key role. Strengthening the adaptive capacity of these nations through risk assessment, education of girls and women, educational programs that explicitly prepare communities for natural disasters and education systems and infrastructure will equip them with the right tools to improve their adaptation capacity.

The Seychelles has set an example in implementing environmental education policies and programs amongst SIDS. Since 1994, when the Wildlife Clubs of Seychelles was created, the country has worked on ways to provide knowledge to its citizens regarding marine and terrestrial biodiversity and conservation opportunities and capacities. The Save Our Seas Foundation has also helped fund several marine education and awareness projects.

The Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT) has also been working on some projects regarding the ESD. At the time, they’re implementing programs related to marine conservation and ocean pollution, which aim not only to enforce the knowledge of the marine environment amidst their population but to also raise awareness of the effects of waste disposal into the waters that surround the island.

 

A Call for Increased Blue Carbon Financing

By Student Delegate Heidi Johnson

Blue carbon financing is an essential step in the path toward a net-zero future. Climate finance aims to support mitigation and adaptation measures that address adverse climate change effects. This financing draws from public and private sources at the local, national, and transnational levels. Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC or the Convention) rely on these large-scale investments to mitigate climate change (by reducing emissions) and adapt to climate change (by developing climate-resilient pathways).

Parties’ capacity to finance innovative climate change mitigation and adaptation technologies vary. Hence, the Convention, the Kyoto Protocol, and the Paris Agreement call on developed country Parties with more significant financial resources to financially assist vulnerable developing country Parties with fewer resources. These agreements also provide that developed country Parties should lead climate finance mobilizing through varying sources. By doing so, Parties recognize their “common but differentiated responsibilities” and collaboratively implement UNFCCC objectives.

To facilitate climate financing, the Convention established a financial mechanism for providing resources to developing country Parties. The Paris Agreement further emphasizes the need to achieve financing goals, encouraging other Parties to make voluntary contributions. It also provides for a global stocktake to assess progress in support mobilization. Under the Paris Agreement, financial support should be transparent and predictable.

In addition, private and public financers have the economic resources to support blue carbon management and protection measures. For instance, these financers can provide funding or invest in sustainable business models. By doing so, financers would enable climate action in a way that mitigates climate risks and captures opportunities. Resulting climate action can be innovative and advantageous to the financers and to developing country Parties.

Recently, more than half of the Parties to the Convention recognized the inherent ocean-climate nexus in their NDCs. For instance, 57 percent of Parties observed the importance of protecting blue carbon, and 47 percent of Parties noted the need to enhance ecosystem-based adaptation. One such Party was the Seychelles. In its NDC, Seychelles notes that it is exceedingly vulnerable to climate change effects and risks as a Small Island Developing State. Consequently, Seychelles’ NDC dedicates a chapter to ocean climate action and blue carbon nature-based solutions. In that chapter, Seychelles commits “to protect at least 50% of its seagrass and mangrove ecosystems by 2025 and 100% by 2030, with external support.”

Seychelles’ NDC further specifies key contributions it will make to fulfill this commitment. For instance, Seychelles intends to locally and nationally regulate coastal planning and infrastructure to prioritize nature-based solutions. Seychelles also plans to establish a blue carbon monitoring program and implement its Marine Spatial Plan to manage its marine protected areas. If successful, these contributions can aid Seychelles in attaining net-zero by 2050 through natural climate solutions. But the caveat in Seychelles’ commitment (“with external support”) denotes its need for climate financing.

The Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT) highlights that Seychelles will need to fill knowledge gaps relating to blue carbon ecosystems to achieve these goals. Filling these gaps to outline potential opportunities will require blue carbon financing mechanisms. As such, SeyCCAT is currently exploring blue carbon financing opportunities that will support long-term blue carbon ecosystem monitoring plans.

Pursuant to the Convention, developed country Parties should provide financial resources to developing country Parties seeking to achieve their blue carbon commitments. This support should remain transparent and predictable so that these parties can make consistent progress. Parties failing to provide these resources should be held accountable for the lack of progress during the upcoming global stocktake. Additionally, private financers should take advantage of the opportunity to fund and invest in innovative blue carbon markets. Private and public financers should lead the way to a net-zero future by financing blue carbon.

 

 

 

 

COP26: The Role of the Insurance Industry in Mitigating and Adapting to Climate Change

By Laura M. Cheng, Adjunct Professor

Introduction

The insurance industry has an instrumental role to play in transitioning to a net-zero economy and adapting to the impacts of climate change.  As investors with over $26 trillion in global assets under management,[1] insurance companies can invest in sustainable businesses and renewable energy, and either divest from carbon-intensive businesses or pressure them to operate more sustainably.  Insurance companies can support sustainable business practices by choosing which businesses to insure, at what price, under what conditions, and with what type of insurance product.  Finally, as experts in identifying, analyzing, and managing risk, insurers can help individuals, businesses, and governments to predict and mitigate damages from natural disasters, while also making a data-driven case for the protective value of natural ecosystems.  At COP26, the role of the insurance industry was highlighted throughout the conference.

AXA XL and the Coastal Risk Index: Calculating the Resilience Value of Ecosystems

Coastal communities around the world are dealing with climate impacts, including rising sea levels and increased frequency and intensity of hurricanes, typhoons, and other natural disasters.  In 2017, insurer AXA XL launched the AXA Ocean Risk Initiative with the goal of developing insurance-led solutions to risks caused by a changing ocean, with a focus on using nature to build resilience.[2]  At COP26, AXA XL launched its Coastal Risk Index (CRI), an innovative and interactive tool that allows users, in a variety of future climate scenarios, to compare coastal flooding with and without coastal ecosystems such as coral reefs and mangroves, in order to calculate the potential risk reduction benefits of marine ecosystems.[3]  By enabling quantification of the resilience value of coastal ecosystems, AXA XL hopes to build the case for nature-based solutions as powerful and cost-effective climate risk mitigation tools.[4]

U.N. Environment Programme’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance

At COP26, the U.N. Environment Programme’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance Initiative (PSI) and several partner organizations hosted 5 virtual events exploring the role of insurance and insurance regulation in the transition to a net-zero economy.[5]  Highlights from these sessions include a discussion of the Net-Zero Insurance Alliance and the launch of the Global Risk Modelling Alliance and Sustainable Insurance Facility.

Net-Zero Insurance Alliance

The Net-Zero Insurance Alliance (NZIA) was launched at the G20 meeting in July 2021 with 8 founding members.[6]  Ahead of COP26, an additional 7 insurers joined the NZIA, bringing the total number of insurers in the NZIA to 15, including some of the largest insurers and reinsurers in Europe.[7]  NZIA members have pledged to achieve net-zero GHG emissions in their underwriting portfolios by 2050 through engagement with policyholders and the use of science-based guidelines and underwriting criteria.[8]  At the COP26 event, NZIA members shared their motivations for joining the NZIA and discussed approaches to helping policyholders decarbonize their operations.

Global Risk Modelling Alliance

Because financial protection tools such as disaster risk insurance are least available and affordable in the Global South, more than 98% of losses in many developing economies are uninsured.[9]  Without insurance, individuals, governments, and aid organizations bear the burden of disaster losses, which further strain government budgets and result in economic and social hardship for those directly affected by the disaster.[10]  At COP26, the Insurance Development Forum (IDF) and V20 (comprised of 48 climate-vulnerable countries with a combined population of 1.2 billion people) announced a new global public-private partnership known as the Global Risk Modelling Alliance (GRMA).[11]  The GRMA is designed to build risk analytics capacity in V20 countries through the use of insurance-based methodologies, tools, and experience.[12]  The goal of the GRMA is to enable V20 members to strengthen their physical climate risk management capabilities and create the trust and confidence necessary to attract investment in adaptation and risk financing solutions.[13]

Sustainable Insurance Facility

At COP26, the V20 also launched the Sustainable Insurance Facility (SIF), which is a Project Pipeline Development Facility designed to assist the members of the V20 in assessing the financial protection needs of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in the context of climate change.[14]  The purpose of the SIF is to mobilize international financial and technical assistance to enable domestic and regional insurers to offer climate-smart insurance products to protect MSMEs and the millions of people that rely on them for their jobs and livelihoods.[15]

Start Ready

At COP26, the Start Network (a coalition of over 50 humanitarian charities) and the IDF announced a new partnership called Start Ready.[16]  The Start Ready tool “will provide pre-agreed funding at scale for relatively predictable crises like droughts, flooding, and heatwaves.  It is based on locally led action and intelligence, and uses innovative risk analysis, collective planning, pre-agreed triggers, and pre-positioned financing to anticipate and respond to needs around the world.”[17]  Start Ready incorporates insurance principles such as risk-pooling, and IDF member countries will provide technical assistance and support for climate and financial risk modelling and strategic decision-making.[18]  A major goal of Start Ready is to mobilize local humanitarian aid even before a disaster strikes, in order to better protect both lives and livelihoods.[19]

References

[1] Insurance Survey 2021, Goldman Sachs Asset Management, https://www.gsam.com/content/gsam/us/en/institutions/market-insights/gsam-insights/insurance/2021/insurance-survey-2021.html.

[2] Ocean Risk Initiative at AXA XL, AXA XL, https://axaxl.com/about-us/ocean-risk-initiative.

[3] Coastal Risk Index: Building Resilience Through Nature, AXA XL Ocean Risk Initiative, Nov. 3, 2021, https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/763f26c5ad73471b9d7b60d09ecdb94c;

AXA XL Launches Coastal Risk Index, The Insurer, Nov. 5, 2021, https://www.theinsurer.com/cop26/axa-xl-launches-coastal-risk-index/19254.article.

[4] Id.

[5] Principles for Sustainable Insurance at COP26: Series of Events, UNEP Finance Initiative, https://www.unepfi.org/events/principles-for-sustainable-insurance-at-cop26-find-out-about-the-series-of-events/.

[6] Net-Zero Insurance Alliance, UNEP Finance Initiative, https://www.unepfi.org/net-zero-insurance/.

[7] COP26 and Insurance – A Complex Journey to Net Zero, Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, Nov. 3, 2021, https://www.herbertsmithfreehills.com/insight/cop26-and-insurance-%E2%80%93-a-complex-journey-to-net-zero.

[8] The Net-Zero Insurance Alliance Statement of Commitment by Signatory Companies, UNEP Finance Initiative, https://www.unepfi.org/psi/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/NZIA-Commitment.pdf.

[9] V20 Group and the IDF Call for Joint Collaboration and International Support to Strengthen Global Physical Climate Risk Management Capabilities, Vulnerable Twenty Group, Sept. 17, 2021, https://www.v-20.org/our-voice/news/press-releases/v20-group-and-the-idf-call-for-joint-collaboration-and-international-support-to-strengthen-global-physical-climate-risk-management-capabilities.

[10] IDF Summit 2021: Insurance Sector Ramping Up Its Critical Role in Accelerating Global Climate Resilience, Insurance Development Forum, June 17, 2021, https://www.insdevforum.org/idf-summit-2021-insurance-sector-ramping-up-its-critical-role-in-accelerating-global-climate-resilience/.

[11] IDF Sets Up Global Risk Modelling Alliance with V20 Group, Reinsurance News, Nov. 5, 2021, https://www.reinsurancene.ws/idf-sets-up-global-risk-modelling-alliance-with-v20-group/.

[12] PRESS RELEASE: COP26: IDF and V20 Announce Partnership in Risk Understanding to Build Global Resilience to Climate Risk; IDF Announces other Multi-Partner Resilience Actions, IDF, Nov. 3, 2021, https://www.insdevforum.org/press-release-cop26-idf-and-v20-announce-partnership-in-risk-understanding-to-build-global-resilience-to-climate-risk-idf-announces-other-multi-partner-resilience-actions/.

[13] Weathering Climate Risk: V20 Group and the IDF Call for Joint Collaboration and International Support to Strengthen Global Physical Climate Risk Management Capabilities, IDF, Sept. 17, 2021, https://www.insdevforum.org/weathering-climate-risk-v20-group-and-the-idf-call-for-joint-collaboration-and-international-support-to-strengthen-global-physical-climate-risk-management-capabilities/.

[14] Collaborative Efforts to Invest in Resilience and Close the Financial Protection Gap: V20 Sustainable Insurance Facility Becomes Operational, Vulnerable Twenty Group, Nov. 9, 2021, https://www.v-20.org/our-voice/news/press-releases/collaborative-efforts-to-invest-in-resilience-and-close-the-financial-protection-gap-v20-sustainable-insurance-facility-becomes-operational.

[15] Id.

[16] COP26: New Insurance Sector and NGO Partnership Will Protect World’s Most Vulnerable from Climate Risks, Start Network, Nov. 3, 2021, https://startnetwork.org/news-and-blogs/cop26-new-insurance-sector-and-ngo-partnership-will-protect-world%E2%80%99s-most-vulnerable.

[17] Id.

[18] Id.

[19] Id.

“Loss and Damage” to address climate justice in Latin America

 By Student Delegate Leslie Terrones

Loss and damage is now a well-known concept that has been at the center of the political fight for climate justice of the Global South since the creation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s Glossary of the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, we can understand loss and damage, broadly, as harms from (observed) impacts and (projected) risks associated with future climate change.

Loss and damage dates back to a 1991 submission by Vanuatu on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) calling for an insurance pool funded by developed countries to help cover the financial burden, to compensate, and/or rehabilitate the loss and damage suffered by the most vulnerable small island and low-lying developing countries. Despite being an old concept, however, it took more than two decades and increasingly robust evidence about climate change impacts and risks, to be recognized institutionally by the UNFCCC.

At COP19, in 2013, countries adopted the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage as part of the UNFCCC, which created an institutionalized policy space to address the adverse consequences of climate change. At COP21, in 2015, the Paris Agreement generated Article 8, which provided the loss and damage mechanism with a permanent legal basis. Furthermore, at COP 25 the Santiago Network was launched as an instrument that would allow countries to catalyze technical assistance to address loss and damage in the context of the Warsaw Mechanism.

Nevertheless, this doesn’t seem to be enough. A recent panel organized by the NGO La Ruta del Clima on November 8th at COP26, called Human Rights and Climate Impacts in Latin America, gathered multiple youth representatives to discuss the organization’s last publication Loss and Damage at COP26: A Central American Perspective, published this last October. The publication analyzes whether or not loss and damage mechanisms were addressed in NDCs submitted by Caribbean governments and the implications of that inclusion or exclusion, as well as the key political demands from the Central-American perspective.

According to Adrian Martínez, the Executive Director of La Ruta del Clima, Article 51 of the Paris Agreement does not address liability and compensation regarding loss and damages and the Warsaw Mechanism has–so far–no funding. “The climate regime doesn’t address the needs of the people, especially the most vulnerable communities. The consequences of this lack of implementation could derive in human rights violations,” he added.

For Liliana Ávila, from the Asociación Interamericana para la defensa del Medioambiente (AIDA), this is a matter of justice. Ávila says, “the impacts of climate change go beyond adaptation and mitigation. We’re also losing a lot of human cultural achievements”. Considering this, she stated that loss and damage needs to be a real pillar within the climate change international system and should be addressed as a human rights issue. Furthermore, she highlighted the importance of adopting a new stream of finance which should set up defined and concrete goals and include accountability and cooperation mechanisms.

Speakers like Ingrid Hausinger and Felipe Fontecilla agree about the urgency to adopt a human rights approach when tackling loss and damage. They also had a united message in saying that the Warsaw Mechanism and the Santiago Network need to be implemented. But to achieve this, the voices of the most vulnerable should be heard and minorities like indigenous people and the LGBTQ+ community must be considered as a matter of course.

Business and Blue Carbon are a Necessary Alliance

By Student Delegate Isabella Smith

According to the Carbon Majors Report, just 100 companies have been responsible for more than 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988. Yet industry does not have any formal obligation in negotiations like the Paris Agreement. Despite this illogical gap in international governance, many companies are beginning to acknowledge their responsibility in curbing climate change due to consumer pressures or internal leadership.

Lately, carbon-neutral pledges are a popular course of action among powerful industry actors, but they generate a fair share of skepticism. One major critique is that reaching carbon neutrality by protecting carbon sinks, instead of lowering carbon emissions, is an easy way out of making the necessary long-term changes. Additionally, sequestration projects can spark concerns about green colonialism – the idea that outsiders from the global north enter into less affluent and minority communities to take environmental actions that the outsiders think are best, without considering or consulting the parties it affects the most. However, if executed properly, the private sector can fill an important funding gap left open by governments falling short on Paris climate financing goals.

Additionally, an increasing number of industry commitments are starting to recognize the imperative role blue carbon can play in reaching pledges, as some of the most productive carbon sinks in the world.  However, the manner in which industry carries out these pledges is integral to both environmental justice concerns and the effectiveness of the project. In Columbia, Apple has provided a meaningful blueprint for how to do so.

In 2018, Apple and Conservation International (CI) formed a partnership to preserve a 27,000-acre area of mangrove forests in Cispatá Bay in Columbia. This project is part of Apple’s pledge to be carbon neutral across their value chain by 2030. Apple and CI work closely with local organizations in Columbia like the Omacha Foundation and the Invemar Research Institute, as well as local communities and the local government, in order to make careful and informed decisions. This project aims to remove one million metric tons of emissions from the air over 30 years.

This project represents two crucial pieces of any industry-led carbon offset project. First, this collaborative partnership emphasizes how the voices of locals and indigenous communities must inform the actions taken by the outside actors. Apple and CI consider the needs and knowledge of local groups as well as environmental experts, before taking highly impactful actions. This ensures local dependence on the ecosystem, the intrinsic value the area holds for certain groups, and the global climate change impact are all taken into account to find the best solution for all involved parties.

Second, this was the first carbon offset credit project to fully account for the higher carbon storage capacity of mangroves. Mangroves are the most efficient carbon sinks out of any forest variety on earth, storing up to ten times as much carbon as terrestrial forests. A recent study showed that every dollar spent on protecting mangroves, could yield up to five dollars in climate adaption benefits. Outside of climate issues, mangroves also filter water, protect communities from storm surges, supply resources and food to locals, provide essential habitat to thousands of species, and protect from coastal erosion. These protections help coastal communities avoid over $80 billion in losses annually. The more expensive credit communicates the higher carbon value of these vital ecosystems. Other large corporations like Gucci and P&G have undertaken similar blue carbon-focused projects in the Philippines and Honduras.

As the COP26 negotiations come to a close, industry should look closely to see where it can fill in climate financing gaps left open by governments. Apple’s blue carbon project in Cispatá Bay provides an effective example for business and blue carbon projects to come.

Blue Carbon Leaders at COP26: Seychelles, Belize, and Costa Rica provide a Framework for Bluer NDCs

By Student Delegate Isabella Smith

Collaboration and creativity are crucial to developing and implementing blue Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement. That was the major takeaway from COP26’s blue carbon panel with four major leaders in the blue carbon field. On Thursday, Minister Flavien Joubert of Seychelles, Vice Minister Cynthia Barzuna Gutierrez of Costa Rica, Minister Andrew Perez of Belize, and CEO Angelique Pouponneau of SeyCCAT met to talk about blue carbon protections in NDCs and enhancing ambition through nature-based solutions. The experts shared a lot as the three nations paved the way with ambitious blue goals and detailed action plans.

First, each speaker shared how their already distinctive successes would continue to develop over the next decade. Minister Joubert announced that Seychelles’ seagrass and coastal wetlands protections would reach 50% by 2025, and 100% by 2030. Minister Perez stated that Belize’s NDC would double mangrove protections by 2025 and add another 6 hectares by 2030, while simultaneously restoring thousands of hectares of mangroves. Vice Minister Gutierrez declared that Costa Rica is closely committed to the 30×30 goal, and with 27% of their lands already protected, their focus is now on the ocean. Angelique added that from her perspective as the CEO of SeyCCAT, she has found that the most critical part of making these plans a reality is partnerships and incorporating stakeholders into the process.

All of the leaders echoed the same sentiments. To design effective commitments, they must be both ambitious and realistic. This requires listening to local stakeholders, transferring knowledge between the experts in any given field and the locals who know the land, incorporating all sectors into decisions, and forming partnerships based on mutual respect. Angelique described how people were usually not familiar with the crucial importance of the blue carbon resource at the beginning of her seagrass projects. But after engaging with locals through social media, conversation, seagrass art, and poetry competitions, and getting hotels and businesses involved – Seychellois now not only know all about seagrass but cherish its value. Carrying out these grassroots interactions is deeply intertwined in the success of meeting NDC goals.

Additionally, each leader described the critical importance of sustainable financing. All leaders reiterated the popular opinion that there is a call on developed nations to step up and support the efforts of developing countries and small island nations in particular. However, they had specific ideas on how to carry out that common position. Minister Joubert and Angelique spoke about how financing does not always need to be from the government, it can also be private. Angelique suggested leveraging public funds to attract more long-lasting private finance. Minister Gutierrez also made clear that the current finance mechanisms need to be innovated and updated, to make it more efficient and transparent. Angelique put it best, “Conservation without funding, is just a conversation.”

At the end of the discussion, when asked what they would say to leaders just now looking to create bluer NDCs, each stated that the framework is already here. Belize, Seychelles, and Costa Rica have created three similar but unique models for quickly and efficiently addressing the ocean-climate nexus. As Angelique said, “don’t be scared, just follow the blueprint.”

LIVE FROM COP26: Green Colonialism Threatening Life of the Arctic and the Livelihood of Indigenous Peoples

Photo Credit to Svetlana Romanova

By Student Delegate Mackenzie Bindas

COP26 provided a narrow opportunity for diverse communities to show how climate change impacts their livelihoods directly and the urgent need for climate action. Media used to convey these climate messages include films, music, artwork, and others.

The Sámi Indigenous peoples also shared their climate message at the COP26, Need to Be Cold panel, emphasizing the threats impacting their livelihoods within the Arctic and Boreal regions. The panel focused on the Sámi, a group of Indigenous people located in the Sápmi region, stretching to parts of Finland, Norway, Sweden, and the Kola peninsula in Russia. Panelists included: Pirita Näkkäläjärv, Svetlana Romanova, Tuomas Aslak Juuso, Tero Mustonen, and Magnus Davidson.

The Sámi peoples fight to have their rights linked to climate change. For Indigenous people like the Sámi, climate change and its harmful impacts are a daily menace. Sámi people are strongly connected with nature, so much so that climate change threatens their economy, society, culture, and health.

The Arctic is currently undergoing a significant change affecting its environment and communities. The Arctic is warming three times faster than average temperatures in the world, which causes sea ice to disappear. Sea ice provides vital habitats for many species like polar bears, seals, whales, and fish stocks. Without sea ice, species may migrate or not survive, which impedes traditional harvesting practices.

Panelist Svetlana Romanova shared a video essay illuminating climate impacts on two local Indigenous groups she belongs to in Russia: Evenk and Sakha. The film demonstrates how her Indigenous family has adapted over the years to the climate impacts. Reindeer migration patterns also have changed, wildfires occur more frequently, and inconsistent seasonal resources make food security an issue. Many Indigenous people in the Nordic area depend on reindeer herding and hunting. Without these animals, the Indigenous people lose their primary source of protein, economic tools, and clothing.

One study shows that wildfires have played a beneficial role in Sámi land management and Native American history. A routine burning can help create clear roads, drive prey out, clear underbrush, and provide new pastures. However, wildfires are occurring more frequently because of climate change. The frequency of these wildfires affects the seasonal resources of Indigenous people because the land’s vegetation is delayed, which reduces its suitability for reindeer grazing and creates inconsistency in resources.

As the Arctic continues to warm, some natural resources are increasingly accessible. The Arctic is home to vast deposits of minerals like phosphate, diamonds, and gold. These minerals are exceptionally economically valuable; companies and countries race to obtain these resources. However, this extraction race frequently and unjustly does not include the input from Indigenous people, leading to the growing conversation about “green colonialism” and centering human rights while addressing climate change.

Green colonialism” occurs when a developed country, company, or organization achieves green benefits by exploiting developing countries’ health, labor, and land or climate-sensitive communities. In turn, communities become increasingly climate-sensitive as their livelihoods depend on those resources. The Arctic warming and subsequent opening trigger cascading impacts for Indigenous people who seek to reconcile their livelihoods in a changing climate without sacrificing fundamental human rights. To address “green colonialism,” it must first be acknowledged.

At COP26, Indigenous people are jointly working with organizations and countries to implement mitigation and adaptation efforts that recognize indigenous knowledge and rights.

On November 11th in the Green Zone, Dr. Martin Lee Mueller hosted Being Salmon, Being Human, which dived into the relationship of humans and their wild and domesticated animal companions. And on November 12th, Minga Indígena will be featuring thirteen elders and protectors to share wisdom on the need to mitigate the effects of climate change. At the end of this event, Minga Indígena Declaration Letter for COP26 Leaders, Indigenous youth will read a letter to the IPCC and COP26 Presidency to request their inclusion in climate negotiations.

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

Eyes on SIDS at COP26: How one country tracks zooplankton dynamics towards climate ready fisheries and food security

By Student Delegate Mackenzie Bindas

For some time now, vulnerable coastal communities and small island nations who rely on the ocean environment have been at increasingly high risk of climate-driven changes impacting food security.  Coastal communities and small island nations are intricately linked to the marine ecosystem.  Fisheries are the primary source of employment, revenue, and food security for these local businesses.  Communities depend on the fisheries to bring in tourism, which directly supports local businesses.  Fisheries also create various job opportunities for these communities, like owning and operating a fishing vessel, working as a deckhand, or harvesting and processing fish to sell.  Locals depend on the fisheries for their primary source of protein.  Without fisheries, these communities will lose jobs, food sources, and a part of their innate culture.

Warming sea temperatures is one of the biggest climate impacts affecting fisheries.  The ocean is a carbon sink absorbing excess heat from greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) stored in the atmosphere.  An increase in ocean temperatures negatively affects marine species and ecosystems.  A warmer ocean can cause the loss of breeding grounds for marine fish and mammals.  Warming waters also creates toxins produced by algal blooms, which can diminish fish stocks because increased temperatures reduce oxygen levels in the water.  Thus, driving marine species to either migrate to new grounds or die.  For humans, a warming sea threatens food security and coastal protection.  Fish stocks will diminish as the sea warms, forcing fisheries to adapt their fishing grounds and potentially target new species.

Despite the harmful impacts of climate change on the marine environment, the Republic of Seychelles has continued to improve its Artisanal Fishery.  SeyCCAT has various projects to improve the technology and lifespan of the fishery.  One of SeyCCAT’s projects has begun to study the stability of fish’s primary food source, a small microorganism called zooplankton.  The project analyzes the population of zooplankton found within Seychelles waters to determine the condition of the marine ecosystem.  These small microorganisms give SeyCCAT insight into the spawning dynamics of various species and the fragility of its coastal environment. Climate change affects the largest marine species to the smallest.  If these small microorganisms were to disappear, small predators like fish would not be far behind.

Fish are the main protein source in Seychelles and coastal communities like Seychelles.  This project helps Seychelles become climate-ready by understanding the dynamics of its fishery in a changing climate.  Determining this zooplankton baseline can inform decision-making in sovereign waters while also contributing to the scientific knowledge hub needed for climate-ready fisheries around the world.

We’ll be supporting Angelique Pouponneau at next week’s side event, “Climate action for shared prosperity through aquatic food systems: Eyes on SIDS and beyond,” which will be held in the Water and Climate Pavilion on Tuesday, November 9, 2021 from 1445-1545 Glasgow time. Hosted by WorldFish, IWMI, and FAO, Angelique will be speaking about innovative financing for climate resilience of aquatic food systems.