Notes from the Bonn Zone Day 11

Thursday marked the next to last day of COP23 as negotiations edged toward a close.

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On Thursday morning, a side event on the Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI) was held in the French Pavilion, where the CAFI presidency was transferred from Norway to France.  The CAFI Initiative partners a group of Central African countries with donors to “recognize and preserve the value of the forests in the region to mitigate climate change, reduce poverty and contribute to sustainable development.” The CAFI event featured a variety of speakers from Europe and Central Africa, including Norway’s Minister of Climate and the Environment, Vidar Helgesen, and France’s Minister of Ecological and Solidarity Transition, Nicolas Hulot.   They discussed the importance and urgency of CAFI and the role their countries have played in the initiative.

“The gluttony of man for the earth can be limitless.  The planet will not survive the loss of its forest resources,” said Hulot.  

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Norway’s Minister of Climate and the Environment, Vidar Helgesen, speaks on CAFI at the French Pavilion.

Hulot stressed the need to be good stewards of the forest: “Our window is getting shorter and shorter.”

Thursday morning also featured a high-profile event on “Uniting for Climate Education Further, Faster, Together through Partnerships.”  The speakers included UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa, Princess of Morocco Lalla Hasnaa, Saint Lucia Minister of Education Gale Tracy Christiane Rigobert, Italy’s Director General for Sustainable Development, Energy and Climate Francesco La Camera, and climate and education advocate Zuriel Odulowe.

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Climate and education advocate Zuriel Odulowe speaks at high-profile event on Uniting for Climate Change.

In her opening remarks, Espinosa highlighted the important work the UNFCCC is doing in relation to climate change.  However, she stressed that there is much work to be done, noting that only 40 percent of countries have climate change in their education curricula.

“We need to do more to prepare people of all ages for the challenges that climate change poses to our societies and our economies,” said Espinosa.  “I call it the age of renewal. Those prepared to lead it will be the ones who will define this century.”

Following her opening remarks, Espinosa signed  a formal cooperation agreement on climate education between the UNFCCC and Morocco’s Mohammad VI Foundation.

The COP Presidency Event on Integrating Human Rights in Climate Action featured a strong lineup of speakers and panelists that included COP President and Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, President of the Marshall Islands Hilda Heine, Former Irish President Mary Robinson and Minister for Environment and Energy for Costa Rica Edgar Guitierrez Espeleta.  Speakers and panelists discussed the connection between climate change and human rights, their frustration with the lack of progress being made on the ground and the importance of the Geneva Pledge on Human Rights and Climate Action.

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Former Irish President Mary Robinson addresses Integrating Human Rights in Climate Action 

Robinson delivered the event’s closing remarks with a powerful reminder of the threat climate change poses to human rights.  

“There is no doubt it’s the biggest human rights threat that we face because it becomes an existential threat to the human race if we don’t deal with it,” said Robinson.  “That existential threat is closer than we think.”

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