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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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Notes from the Bonn Zone: Days 9 and 10

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WWF waiting for Emmanuel Macron to visit the #PandaHub

Days 9 and 10 of COP23 marked the arrival of several high profile figures such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and UN Secretary General António Guterres as the conference nears its end.  

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Tuesday afternoon featured a side event on Migration as a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy: A Gender Perspective at the Talanoa Space.  The event featured a panel of women speakers from the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), International Organization for Migration (IOM), Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Women’s Bureau of The Gambia.  Panelists spoke about the vulnerabilities women face from climate change and the connection with migration in their respective regions.

Ndey Fatou Jobe of the Women’s Bureau of The Gambia spoke about the role women play in her country’s economy, where they comprise 50 percent of the labor force and account for 40 percent of total agricultural production.  Women, she said, are often marginalized in the Gambian economy with limited access to credit.  She also pointed out how climate change has affected agricultural production and compounded struggles faced by women.  Ndey Fatou Jobe believes economic empowerment is the key to reducing women’s vulnerabilities faced by climate change.

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Panel discussion on Migration as a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy: A Gender Perspective

“When you are empowered economically, you become strong,” said Fatou Jobe.  “The most important part is to educate women and provide the necessary finance.”

Later in the afternoon, a group of Democratic and Republican U.S. officials from state governments committed to the Paris Agreement spoke on the importance of meeting the 2°C target, demonstrating that combatting climate change is not a partisan effort.  Democratic governors Kate Brown of Oregon and Jay Inslee of Washington delivered powerful speeches on the need for states to take a leading role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while a bipartisan panel of state officials from New York, Maryland, Colorado and Massachusetts reaffirmed this message.

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Panel discussion on bipartisan efforts to combat climate change with state officials from Maryland, Colorado, Massachusetts and New York

“Donald Trump cannot stop us.  Let’s get on with whipping climate change.  It’s the destiny of our peoples,” said Inslee.

Jared Snyder, the Deputy Commissioner of Air Resources, Climate Change and Resources of New York, paraphrased a famous Mark Twain quote to describe New York’s response to the current political situation: “Support your country all the time. Support your government when it deserves it.” And she added,”On climate change, it is something that we feel differently from our government.”

French environmental minister  and renowned nature documentarian Nicolas Hulot arrived at the French Pavilion on Wednesday morning to talk about the work of the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS), an initiative developed by the French government, Global Facility for Disaster Risk Reduction from the World Bank, United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and World Meteorological Organization.  The CREWS initiative is designed to increase the capacity for Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems in vulnerable nations.   Hulot’s presentation was followed by two panels of representatives from participating countries and partnering organizations.

“In the face of climate change, Everyone must be warned well in advance in case of natural disaster. This is the minimum. This is the purpose of the CREWS system,” said Hulot.  

On Wednesday afternoon, the unofficial United States delegation hosted a Business Showcase series of panels, where corporate leaders discussed their initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at their companies.

Sheila Bonini, Senior Vice President of Private Sector Engagement at the World Wildlife Fund opened the seven-hour event with the following message: “The big changes will probably not be coming from government.  Business is our innovation center.”

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Jeff Moe (left) of Ingersoll Rand and Barry Parkin (center) of Mars, Inc. speak on their companies’ efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

The first event, The Audacity of ‘Still In,’ featured representatives from Ingersoll Rand and Mars Inc., who spoke about their company’s investments in renewables and their efforts to transition to a low-carbon portfolio.

“I think the answer for us is very simple,” said Barry Parkin, Chief Sustainability Officer of Mars, Inc.  “We are going all out for clean energy.”

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#SamNosCuenta: Notes from the Bonn Zone: Day 8

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Marcus Pratsch of DZ BANK AG Speaking at the Talanoa Space

As negotiations resumed on Monday, there was palpable energy in the Bonn Zone that culminated in a spirited protest at a side event held by the United States on “The Role of Cleaner and More Efficient Fossil Fuels and Nuclear Power in Climate Mitigation.”

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This event featured a panel of Trump administration members and the vice president of coal generation and emissions technologies at Peabody Energy, marking this the first time that the official United States delegation had spoken publicly at COP23. A huge line of people waiting to attend the event formed hours before the panel discussion started.  Shortly after the session began, a large group of protesters began singing an alternate version of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA”:

So you claim to be an American
But we see right through your greed;
It’s killing across the world
for that coal money.
And we proudly stand up and tell you to
Keep it in the ground.
The people of the world unite
and we are here to say.

Protesters quickly exited the event and were joined by a large group of supporters in the Bonn Zone’s atrium, where the lively rally continued.  

Before this protest, numerous side events focusing on investments in renewable energy and other green technologies were held throughout the Bonn Zone.  An early morning session was held on Sustainable Investment, Private Capital and Climate Finance at the Talanoa Lodge, an exhibition area hosted by the German and Fijian governments built for civil society, industry, regions and municipalities.  Representatives for this event included DZ BANK AG, Commerzbank AG, the African Development Bank Group, Shell International, Ltd. and CDP, an international organization formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project that works with market forces.  Participants talked about the experience of mobilizing private capital to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, developing the global green bond market and utilizing the carbon capture and storage process.  

“Ultimately, everyone’s climate portfolios have to be resilient and below the two degree goal,” said Paul Simpson, the CEO of CDP.

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Paul Simpson speaking at the Sustainable Investment, Private Capital and Climate Finance side event.

Another side event on Reducing Livestock’s Long Shadow – Opportunities to Keep Warming Well Below 2⁰C was held later that morning.  The event began with a fiery speech by Ifat Zur of the Green Course, an environmental NGO based in Israel.  Zur blasted the livestock industry for being an inefficient and wasteful sector that is built upon the suffering of billions of animals.  Zur criticized the conference for its decision to offer meat options, pointing out the hypocrisy of a climate change conference serving carbon intensive food.

“Lucky for us, vegan food is delicious.  It is better for us,” said Zur.

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Flyer for livestock side event.

Zur was followed by Dr. Helen Harwatt, formerly of Loma Linda University.  Harwatt also discussed reducing the footprint of the livestock sector, pointing out it contributes to 23 percent of total warming.

“The Paris Agreement will be increasingly difficult to meet if methane reductions are not also addressed strongly and rapidly,” said Harwatt.

In the afternoon, the French government held a side event on Engie, the French multinational electric utility company, and its role in helping reach the 2℃ target.  The panel featured two speakers, Paul Simons, the Deputy Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IAEA), and Isabelle Kocher, the Chief Executive Officer of Engie.  The panelists discussed strategies undertaken by IAEA and Engie to reduce their carbon footprint.

“We have decided to be at the forefront of the way,” said Kocher.

Following the Engie panel discussion was a side event, Ecovillages for Climate Action: Opportunities for Europe,inspired by Asia, Africa and Latin America.  In this event, speakers working in these three regions of the world shared their stories of their work in investing in solar panels, green buildings and fertilizer technologies.

During the Ecovillages event, Thomas Duveau of Mobisol, a German business that works on installing solar energy systems in East Africa, spoke about  the Solar Revolution – the Contribution of Off Grid Solar to Electrifying Rural Africa.   Duveau stated that a $50 billion investment could provide electricity for the entire continent, pointing out that the only thing that is lacking for this is the investors.

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Youth is engaged at COP23

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The 13th Conference Of Youth (COY13) took place before the opening of COP23 in Bonn from November 2 to 4. This meeting brought together international organizations and associations of young people engaged in climate action. It is part of the International Youth Climate Movement, which holds and directs climate actions organized by youth. YOUNGO is one of 9 civil society groups represented in the UNFCCC and has been accredited  as an observer member since 2009.

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I was at the YOUNGO meeting this morning, where young people from all over the world gathered with the bottom-lining team (which is YOUNGO slang for managing team) to discuss and brief the audience about what is happening in the negotiations. The way these people talk and lead meetings is very nice. It is based upon deep transparency and equality rules, where everyone can hold the microphone to share their views.

The meeting began with the famous energizer, a short role-playing game where everyone sings, dances and shakes their body to wake up. Every meeting relies on the some communication rules in order to not to create a mess each time a discussion is brought to the table.  This helps ensure a democratic process. If you fully agree with something being said, turn your wrists above your head.  If you do not, move one hand up and down. To talk after someone, raise your hand above your head. If you want to make a direct response to a long speech, lower this hand towards the ground.

The meeting then continued with a discussion about the results of an internal election of representatives of the Global South. The atmosphere became tense over disagreements resulting from a previous discussion. Voices of speakers, seated all around in the audience, became more and more trembling, aggressive or calming, until a woman said: “We are here to fight against climate change, not to fight against each other.” Her intervention helped bring the discussion to a close.  However a few people remained emotional, as they had spent day and night negotiating these agreements.

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Tears and tensions are part of the will to bring about global change as are smiles and joys. Thanks to these profoundly engaged young people, the agreements signed by the parties incorporate youth interests.

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#SamNosCuenta: Notes from the COP: Days 6 and 7

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As negotiators prepped for the second and final week of COP23, we, at La Ruta, have been covering the events taking place in the Climate Action and Bonn Zones.

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Panelists for Business Case for Advancing Strong Climate Leadership and Policy in California event

Saturday’s highlight was the arrival of several high profile figures to the United States Climate Action Zone.  Former Vice President Al Gore spoke on Maintaining U.S. Engagement in International Climate Finance. He was joined by Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, Senior Director for Climate Policy and Programs for New York City Dan Zarrilli, Davenport, Iowa Mayor Frank Klipsch and representatives from the private sector.  Participants reaffirmed their commitment to the $100 billion finance goal, despite the recent political developments in the United States, with Gore affirming that the “train left the station in Paris.”

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Former Vice President Al Gore speaking on Maintaining U.S. Engagement in International Climate Finance

“These fast, urbanizing, growing cities, particularly in the developing world, are seeing that the path toward more fossil fuel use is a dead end,” Gore said.  “As a result, investors all over the world are seeing this opportunity open up.  When you cross the threshold, where renewables are cheaper than fossil fuels, it is not a minor change…All over the developing world and the developed world, we are seeing investors poised to put vast new flows of capital into this sustainability revolution, which represents the biggest investment opportunity in the history of the world.”

In a panel discussion with McAuliffe, Merkley highlighted the corrupting role money has had on U.S. politics in relation to climate finance.

“We need to kick the Koch brothers out of every state,” said Merkley.

The session on climate finance was followed by a panel discussion on the Business Case for Advancing Strong Climate Leadership and Policy in California.  The panel participants were Californians committed to the Paris Agreement, including Governor Jerry Brown, Chief Operating Officer of Fetzer Vineyards Cindy DeVries, Steve Malnight, Senior Vice President for Strategy and Policy of Pacific Gas & Electric, and Kaiser Permanente Vice President and Environmental Stewardship Officer Kathy Gerwig.  They discussed the role of the private and public sectors in California in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“If you get Trump, you get more carbon reduction,” said Brown.  “He gives carbon denial a bad name.  He is the poster boy for climate denial.”

Brown went on to say: “A little bit of Trump will go a long way.  Too much will destroy us all.”

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Governor Jerry Brown speaking on Advancing Strong Climate Leadership and Policy in California 

Brown was highly critical of President Trump, but optimistic about how his presidency has mobilized environmentalists throughout the United States. 

On Sunday, members from La Ruta del Clima joined speakers and panelists for a side event with the International Union for the Conservation (IUCN) on Youth Voices.  Speakers from the Independent Association of Latin America and the Caribbean (AILAC), IUCN’s Environmental Law Center, International Forestry Students Association (IFSA), YMCA’s Resource Group on the Environment and others talked about their work related to climate change and perspectives on this year’s COP.

 

 

 

 

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Ph. D. Student Pananya Larbprasertporn

 

“I do have hope. Or perhaps I am just forcing myself to have hope,” said Anna Pretel, an intern from the Environmental Law Center.   “But I feel that is just talking and talking in the negotiation and not action. If we want to solve this problem we have to act now. We are running out of time.”

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#SamNosCuenta: Notes from the Bonn Zone – Days 4 and 5

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The COP23 negotiations are beginning to ramp up at the end of week one, with high profile figures such as former United States Vice President Al Gore, California Governor Jerry Brown, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley arriving at the conference on Friday and Saturday.   With the climate talks in the Bula Zone intensifying, activity in the Bonn Zone and recently opened U.S. Action Climate Center continues to pick up speed.  

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On Thursday, we had the opportunity to speak with Julio Cusurichi Palacios, the 2007 Goldman Environmental Prize winner from  Madre de Dios, Peru. Cusurichi sat down to talk about his mission here at COP23 and the effect that road construction as well as illicit logging and gold mining have had on his community. He also discussed his inspirational work that led to his award.

In the afternoon, the Adaptation Fund hosted a panel of speakers working to implement the fund’s projects in Fiji, Argentina, Ecuador, Tanzania, Antigua and Barbuda.  The Adaptation Fund, which finances projects to aid developing nations in adapting to climate change, is slated to have a prominent role in the finance negotiations over the next several days.  Participants discussed projects’ guiding principles, highlights and lessons learned for activities in their respective countries.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) hosted a side event Friday morning: Strengthening Legal and Institutional Frameworks for Ecosystem-Based Adaptation, a process that helps people adapt to climate change through the conservation, sustainable management and restoration of natural ecosystems.   The event featured a variety of speakers and panelists from Costa Rica, Honduras, Ecuador and Seychelles, who discussed strategies, impediments and lessons learned implementing ecosystem-based adaptation through a legal lens.  Adrian Martinez, the President of La Ruta del Clima, was one of the featured panelists.  Martinez spoke about the role of public participation in climate change governance and implementing adaptation measures in Costa Rica.

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Adrian Martinez of La Ruta del Clima speaking at IUCN side event

Friday’s highlight was Gore’s arrival at COP23.  Gore spoke to a packed audience at the Indonesian Pavilion, thanking them for “recreating the climate of Indonesia.”  Gore talked about the Climate Reality Project’s work in Indonesia and  thanked the 300 Indonesians who had gone through the Climate Reality Leadership Corps training.  Gore answered a question about nuclear energy development in Indonesia.  While stating that he was not entirely opposed to nuclear energy development, Gore lamented the direction nuclear energy development had taken globally and expressed pessimism about nuclear energy’s economic viability.

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Al Gore leaving the Indonesia pavilio

This week also marked the opening of the U.S. Action Climate Sector, a pavilion located adjacent to the Bula Zone, where university presidents, mayors, governors, and business leaders from the United States are scheduled to convene over the next several days.  At a We Are Still In Welcome Reception, the sector’s hosts reaffirmed their commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, despite President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

“When Donald Trump stepped out, the American people stepped in,” said Anne Kelly, Director of Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP) Ceres.

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Side Event #COP23: Youth Voices

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Youth Voices: this side event focuses on discussing strategies for addressing global climate change challenges from the youth perspective. The event will promote the exchange of experiences, strengthening interaction between ‘youth voices’ and young environmental leader panelists. The event will encourage the role of the youth community in environmental problems.

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Lugar / Place: IUCN Pavilion – Pabellon #COP23

Date / Fecha: 12 Nov.

Hora / Time: 10.15 -11.45

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La Ruta del Clima is an official Partner

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La Ruta del Clima is an official Partner of UN Climate Change to support the COP23 that takes place in Bonn, Germany.

This is the second opportunity that La Ruta del Clima joins as a partner of the Secretariat of the UNFCCC to support the UN Climate Change Conference in aspects of inclusive communication.

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La Ruta del Clima supports citizen participation and considers it essential to the success and effectiveness of climate actions. 

“Inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue builds empathy and fosters better decision processes for the common good.” Adrian Martinez, President La Ruta del Clima 

At COP23, we support the UNFCCC Secretariat with the Climate Action Studio through communicative products. We hope that these inputs promote a more transparent climate governance and greater access to information for different social actors, including citizens. La Ruta del Clima highly values participatory collaborations to promote climate empowerment.

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Indigenous People Battle to Counter the Effects of Climate Change in Honduras

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Recently, I was introduced to the organization CONPAH, the federation of indigenous nations of Honduras.  CONPAH provides a collective front to deal with some of the most pressing issues facing indigenous communities throughout Honduras.

Climate change is an issue of concern to indigenous communities. This is because land and the environment greatly influence the culture and spirituality of many indigenous people. Most indigenous communities make their living off of the land and their spiritual traditions and cultural outlook are closely tied to the land. As such, these communities are often disproportionately affected by climate change.

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Currently, CONPAH is working with the Honduran government in coordination with the United Nations to implement the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on a national level. As part of these efforts, many international organizations as well as non-governmental organizations have been mobilized to carry out the objectives of the UNFCCC agreement. The UNFCCC entered into force on March 21, 1994. Today, it has near-universal membership. Honduras is among 197 countries that have ratified the Convention, meaning that they are held accountable to implement the goals of the convention within their national framework.

The Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement both built on the UNFCCC to bring all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects.

The latest push by the Honduran government to implement measures to deal with the effects of climate change is part of these continued efforts. Honduras is reaffirming its commitment to reduce carbon emissions and develop a national strategy to implement measures against deforestation and environmental degradation. Honduras, in consultation with the international community, has empowered the secretariat of energy, natural resources, environment and mining, to develop a program, REDD or REDD+, for reducing emissions caused by deforestation and environmental degradation.

In order to realize the objectives of REDD/REDD+, the Honduran government, UN agencies, NGOs and other international organizations have rightly realized that they will need to work closely with indigenous people. It is among these communities that climate experts and environmental activists find their greatest allies, since they have a rich history of traditions that honor and intimately care for the environment.

Many indigenous communities have long adopted practices and cultural norms that tend to be in harmony with the environment. This is exactly why many environmental organizations have set out to incorporate these communities’ traditional knowledge and practices in the process of fighting deforestation and environmental degradation.

It was in this spirit that on July 4-7, 2017, the UN, government representatives, and various NGOs held a conference in collaboration with leaders of various indigenous communities in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. The purpose of this conference was to initiate a dialogue regarding the implementation of REDD/REDD+ as a means of facing the challenges of climate change. This process of consultation and direct communication with the indigenous communities and seeking their participation is essential to develop a lasting alliance with the indigenous nations to help prevent deforestation and environment degradation.

I also joined the conference as part of the Maya Ch’orti’ delegation, braving the nine-hour drive from Copan Ruinas with enthusiasm. After two days of intensive discussions, presentations and negotiations, CONPAH and the government agreed to adopt the objectives laid out by REDD/REDD+. It was decided that the communities would participate in the creation of a national strategic plan to help preserve the forest and cut back emissions to help Honduras meet its obligations.

Throughout the conference, leaders of the communities were among the most vocal advocates for the protection of the environment. The resilience and resolve of indigenous nations to preserve their territories really came through strongly in the meetings. The conference served as a powerful reminder of the connection indigenous cultures share with the environment.

Truly, international organizations, NGOs and governments can learn a great deal from indigenous communities, for they retain a wealth of wisdom and information regarding sustainable resource use and management. Likewise, indigenous territories can serve as a bastion where sustainable development and conservation can be practiced and implemented in keeping with indigenous peoples’ rights. Indigenous peoples’ territories are by law considered to be protected areas and are meant to be kept safe from exploitation at the hands of foreign companies and mining industries.  Although enforcing territorial rights has been a difficult process, at least recognizing them is a step in the right direction. 

DSC02259The struggle of indigenous people to gain recognition for their traditional territories in accordance with Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 (ILO No. 169)  is highly relevant to the conservation efforts undertaken as part of REDD/REDD+. It is hoped that by making an alliance with the indigenous communities, community members may be empowered to carry out conservation efforts on their own territories to help respond to the effects of climate change. The UNFCCC and REDD/REDD+ may also give further credence to the indigenous peoples’ right to communal territory. The need to reduce emissions and preserve the environment will give authority to indigenous peoples’ struggle to secure and preserve their communal territories. Therefore, an alliance with CONPAH through REDD/REDD+ may offer a win-win situation to all parties involved.

The process of consultation and participation is a key aspect of the ILO No. 169. The conference in Tegucigalpa incorporated these two very essential elements. The event was a success because the authorities included an effective mechanism for consultation and incorporated the participation of indigenous nations. Due to this inclusive and participatory approach, the leaders of the communities felt comfortable to adopt the objectives of REDD/REDD+ and have agreed to help develop a comprehensive strategic plan to meet the goals of conservation and emission reduction. I am excited to be a part of this historic process.

In the near future, the National Council of Indigenous Ch’orti’ Maya of Honduras (CONIMCHH), the governing body for the Maya Ch’orti’ nation of Copan, will focus on the development of a plan for the preservation of the forest on their indigenous territories. I will also be involved in this process and will continue to advocate for indigenous rights. The best interest of CONIMCHH and the Maya Ch’orti’ nations is my priority, and If REDD/REDD+ can help reinforce indigenous peoples’ authority over their territorial lands, I will be very content. Any initiative or process that concerns indigenous communities and their territories must be entered into with the informed, prior consent of the community members and must incorporate their decisions and participation. All projects that deal with indigenous peoples’ territories must use a participatory process and take into account indigenous costumes, cultures and traditions as a way of developing a strategy that primarily meets the needs of the local communities.

I will end by presenting the following: Historically, in areas allocated as protected indigenous peoples’ territories, forest regeneration tends to be far more rapid, deforestation ceases and cases of extreme exploitation are far less likely. If nations and companies can learn to respect indigenous peoples’ right to their traditional territories, forests would have a chance to regenerate on these very same protected lands and exploitation would be dramatically reduced. It is with this intention that CONPAH and indigenous nations of Honduras moves forward with the program of REDD/REDD+. I am honored to be of assistance in this process.

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Notes from the Bonn Zone: Days 2 and 3

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The climate negotiations in Bonn are off to a promising start in advancing the implementation of the Paris Agreement, with Syria pledging to sign the Paris Agreeement on Tuesday.  Side events and exhibitions in the Bonn Zone on Tuesday and Wednesday highlighted the significance of what is at stake in these negotiations.  

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China opened its Tuesday sessions in the Bonn Zone with a side event on China’s Energy Conservation and its Contribution to Addressing Climate Change.  This talk focused on China’s conservation and emission reduction efforts as well its conservation policies and measures.  Panelists discussed the link between energy efficiency and economic prosperity as well as China’s energy conservation plans for 2050.

 At the same time, the World Wildlife Fund’s pavilion hosted a Spanish-speaking side event, Challenges and Opportunities for Climate Action in Latin America and the Caribbean in the New Political Context. Adrian Martinez of La Ruta del Clima served as the panel’s moderator while other panel members included representatives from Mexico, Colombia and Peru. 

Topics included how to involve local governments in climate action plans, the connection between climate change, development and education, the importance of civil society in climate change governance and the effect of political transitions on climate policy.  

“Climate change is not something that just affects us personally or physically,” said Anne Dunn of Fiji. “It’s something, that as islanders, as a Fijian, affects the very core of who we are.  It affects my identity.”

At the close of the meeting, Fiji’s Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources, Mereseini Vuniwaq said: “We have seen here today how six people from different countries in the Pacific, who did not even know each other a short time ago, can come together to produce beautiful and insightful videos, uniting as one voice. They are not video professionals and they are not professional entertainers.  They are six very intelligent young people with good ideas and generous hearts.  They are happy to devote themselves to something much larger than they are, much greater than all of us.”

Vuniwag went on to say: “I am thrilled to send these voices forth with a message to the world from the Pacific.  The crisis is now, the solution is now and the commitment must be now.”

On Wednesday afternoon, a panel of British scientists convened at the United Kingdom pavillion for the side event: Ocean Options: Climate Challenges and Science Responses for Seas and Society.  Panelists discussed the effects of ocean acidification, sea level rise, ocean temperature change and oxygen loss.

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Philip Williamson of the University of East Anglia discusses the effects of change in ocean temperature over the past several decades.

They also discussed their projects that included looking at offshore carbon dioxide storage deep below the seabed and studying blue carbon, the process by which plants move carbon dioxide into living biomass.

Late Wednesday afternoon, panelists from various NGOs throughout Latin America discussed their role in challenging the status quo and implementing innovative and sustainable technologies in their respective countries.

 

 

 

 

 One of the panelists was Luis Pérez, who works for Sailcargo Inc., a carbon negative transportation company based in Costa Rica.  

The Sailcargo Inc. team is developing a ship powered by wind and solar that seeks innovative and sustainable solutions to the shipping industry.  Pérez explained that Costa Rica, with its proximity to the Panama Canal, supply of sustainable wood resources and reputation as an eco-friendly country, serves as an optimal base for the company.