A People’s COP – COP23 Concluding Statement

Concluding statement from COP23 Chief Negotiator Nazhat Shameem Khan outlining the key outcomes from COP23.

Fiji – the first small islands’ Presidency transformed what was initially expected to be a low-profile working COP into a moment for inspirational political momentum for the full implementation of the Paris Agreement. It was truly a people’s COP.

The devastating recent extreme weather events that have affected millions of people across the globe with heatwaves, droughts, tropical cyclones and dust storms, underscored the need for urgent measures to protect the most vulnerable.

Fiji brought the Bula Spirit to the climate conference, which infused both the formal negotiations and the climate action zone with a sense of urgency, warmth, inclusiveness and transparency. For a process that in the past has often been viewed as closed off and disconnected from the lives of ordinary people, this is the most important legacy of COP23.

Fiji’s COP introduced the first Open Dialogue between governments and civil society to discuss key issues related to the negotiations, national implementation of ambitions and how to engage the civil society better in national and international climate action. One of the immediate effects was wider access to the intergovernmental negotiations.

Fiji has endeavoured to use the power of the COP Presidency to put people first. Fiji wanted to make a connection between these complex negotiations and the real, everyday concerns and aspirations of people the world over.

Seven year old Timoci Nausala of Naivicula in Wainibuka, Tailevu, the first-place winner of a national climate speech competition for children in Fiji, received a standing ovation from the World’s climate leaders during the opening of the High-Level Segment. In his speech Timoci called all parties to stop the blaming and waiting game and to walk the talk. A few days before that, the second-place winner, Shalvi Shakshi of Bua, stole the hearts of those in the climate action zone with her story of how climate change has impacted her village.

Fiji has done the job it was given to do – to advance the implementation guidelines of the Paris Agreement and prepare for more ambitious action through the Talanoa Dialogue in 2018.

The Talanoa Dialogue agreed to in Bonn establishes an inclusive and participatory process to allow governments, researchers, the private sector and the civil society, to share stories and showcase best practices on how to raise the ambition of nationally determined contributions (NDCs). The ultimate objective of this dialogue is to enable Parties to collectively move closer to the more ambitious range of the Paris Agreement goal of keeping the rise in global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

While important work remains to be done, COP23 made significant progress towards the implementation of the Paris Agreement. The contours of comprehensive Implementation Guidelines for the Paris Agreement are now in sight. COP23 made progress on all elements of these Guidelines and decided on how to speed up the work. This demonstration of strong commitment to uphold the vision of the Paris Agreement showed to the world that all countries are working hard in the right direction and are determined to finalise the Paris Agreement Implementation Guidelines at COP24 in Poland next year. This is crucial to help governments plan their economies, and give confidence to investors and businesses that the low-carbon economy is here to stay.

The global community has embraced Fiji’s concept of a Grand Coalition for greater ambition. In Bonn, the support for climate action from countries, regions, cities, civil society, the private sector and ordinary men and women was clearly on display.

The COP23 Presidency organised High-Level events on health, policy coherence, human rights and climate change, insurance and resilience, and the 2050 Pathway Platform. The COP23 Presidency aims to deliver concrete results in the coming year in these areas to bring the work forward and closer to the UNFCCC negotiations.

At the High-Level Presidency event on insurance and resilience the InsuResiliece Global Partnership was launched together the Fiji Clearing House for Risk-Transfer. This Partnership has the potential to provide millions of climate-vulnerable people over the world with access to affordable insurance against climate-related loss and damage, such as displacement.

COP23 strengthened further the UNFCCC Warsaw Mechanism on Loss and Damage. It also decided to organise an expert dialogue under Fijian Presidency in May 2018, which will explore options for mobilising expertise, technology and support for climate-related loss and damage.

The Ocean Pathway Partnership was also launched at COP23. This is a major new initiative to strengthen the link between climate change action and the health of oceans in the UN Climate Change process, as well as in national climate action plans.

COP23 adopted the first Gender Action Plan and operationalised the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples’ Platform. These initiatives are to ensure that those who are traditionally marginalised have a strong voice in the climate change negotiations and victims of climate change are empowered to become agents of change.

Under Fijian Presidency, more funding for climate adaptation was secured and an important next step was taken to guarantee that the Adaptation Fund shall serve the Paris Agreement. This will help the most vulnerable nations to become more resilient to the negative impacts of climate change.

Fiji overachieved on the expectations for this COP. It achieved more than just taking steps towards the Paris Agreement Work Programme.

One such other achievement was the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture. Small-scale farmers in small island states are among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. After 6 years of intense negotiations, a historic agreement on agriculture was concluded at COP23. The Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture will help developing countries reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the agriculture sector, which is the second biggest emitter after the energy sector. This will also help promote the sector’s resilience to the effects of climate change.

Another breakthrough was providing more certainty regarding long-term finance for climate action for the developing world. Another achievement was the launch of the work on education under the Paris Agreement, which will play a fundamental role for its implementation.

The 20th anniversary of the Kyoto Protocol reminded countries of the importance to ratify the Doha Amendment and decided on urgent measures to further enhance ambition and support in the period before 2020.

We all leave this first small Islands’ COP having made notable and historic achievements. However, it must be acknowledged that this would not have been possible without the generosity of Germany and other donor countries, the hospitality of the people Bonn, the friendship and cooperation with the Moroccan COP22 Presidency and the incoming Polish COP24 Presidency, the devotion of the UN Climate Change secretariat and the goodwill of the global community to make the Fijian Presidency and COP23 a success.