From the 1st to 12th of November 2021, I had the privilege of participating in the 26th Conference of Parties (COP) meeting, held in Glasgow, UK.
Upon arrival on November 1st, I went through the first COVID-19 test and registration processes to access the venue.
There were about 38,000 delegates and 120 World leaders, spread across the blue and green zone according to the UK Government as COP attendees.
All negotiations and high-level meetings happened in the blue zone.
It was also the hub for all-party delegation offices and pavilions whilst the green zone served as the centre for showcasing innovations from civil society, the private sector and academia.
The Government of Ghana for the first time had a holistic approach to the preparation towards COP26. Holistic in the sense that all relevant ministries and agencies and civil society actors were brought together to prepare and participate effectively in the negotiations to follow the COP26 as a country.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI) innovation organized a pre-COP meeting for all key stakeholders to unpack Ghana’s position and expectations for going to COP26, all stakeholders were invited to attend.
And a weekly stakeholder meeting to plan for activities at the Ghana Pavilion was also organised. At SYND, we organised a monthly webinar series from July to November 2021 dubbed “ROAD2COP26 WEBINAR SERIES: Amplifying the Voices of the Youth” and “PRE-COP YOUTH SUMMIT” that provided the platform for young people to be educated and engaged with the Ghanaian team of negotiators.
On 5th November, which was the youth and action day, I had the opportunity to be a Panelist at the Youth Event held at the Ghana pavilion dubbed “Youth as Agents of Change, lessons and experiences from Ghana” organized by SYND.
The event brought together young environmental advocates from Ghana to share the lessons learnt in their advocacy and how young people can continue to drive climate ambition after COP26. It was a hybrid event with 24 online
participants and over 30 people joining in person. It also attracted the participation of other young people from different countries and received relevant inputs and recommendations from Government officials who participated.
Additionally, I participated in so many side events mostly in the blue zone organized by some of our international partners, countries and other institutions. Notable among them were:
- Youth consultation meeting on Adaptation by the Global Centre for Adaptation on how young people can be involved in pushing for Adaptation at the country and global levels.
- #Youth4Climate dialogue with Alok Sharma, the COP President and Ministers like Roberto Cingolani, Italian Minister for Ecological Transition. At this event, young people conducted a reflection of the Youth4Climate Event and probed further on how the outcomes from the event will be adopted and implemented by countries.
- Building Resilience beyond 2030 and 2050 event organized by SLYCAN Trust in the Resilience Lab. At this meeting, I called out the organizers for organizing a discussion on resilience without inviting any young person as a panellist. I reiterated the need for young people’s participation in all discussions especially when it’s looking at 2030 and beyond.
Even though I had a party tag that gives you access to negotiation rooms, I couldn’t observe the negotiations due to the COVID-19 restriction where not more than two delegates from the same party were allowed to access the negotiation rooms.
However, I joined some evening meetings of the African Group of Negotiators where they took stock of the negotiations of the day, the positive outcomes and enable them to re-strategize for the next day’s negotiations.
At the end of the first week, negotiations on Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE), which encapsulates the need and importance for young people’s participation in the climate change discourse, was completed. This led to the drafting of the new Glasgow Work Programme on Action for Climate Empowerment which was adopted as part of the outcomes of COP26.
GHANA AT COP26
- Ghana for the first time acquired a pavilion that hosted many events by various Government Ministries and Agencies, showcasing their respective contribution and interventions on climate change. I had the opportunity to interact with our Deputy Minister for Education and the Chair of the Select Committee on Environment in Parliament.
- While exhibiting some of the advocacy materials on the activities and projects SYND has done over the years, I had the privilege of meeting the Director General of Foreign Affairs in France, Mr Philippe Lacoste, whose interest to engage was because of the France Embassy logo he cited on our advocacy materials. We had a very interesting conversation with him on the partnership we have with the French Embassy in Ghana. He recommended that we translate the advocacy materials into the French language.
- On the last day of the World Leaders’ Summit which preceded the COP
Meeting, the President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo, came to the pavilion to meet and interact with the Ghanaian delegation. At that meeting, I presented to the President a copy of our Young Green Entrepreneurs brochure. It contains the profiles and information of some young entrepreneurs who are for example using innovative ways to turn waste into pellets as part of promoting green businesses. The rationale was to share with the President and his entourage the great work of young people that require more support and investments to help them upscale their work.
- Ghana signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Mercuria SA, a global energy commodity company in Switzerland to collaborate on the development of carbon market projects in Ghana at the Ghana Pavilion.
- Ghana also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Sweden Energy Cooperate in implementing Article 6 of the Paris Agreement on Carbon Markets in Ghana also at the Ghana Pavilion.
WAY FORWARD/ ADVOCACY ISSUES FOR SYND.
Together with my colleague, Solomon Yamoah (Partnership and Networking Coordinator at SYND), we had different meetings with different partners like 350 Africa, Parents for Future Global, SLYCAN Trust among others which span across my two weeks stay in Glasgow.
Even though I have mixed reactions about the outcomes of COP26, I believe our attention should be more on ensuring that countries fulfil the commitments they have made. As an activist, I intend to use the knowledge I have acquired from different activists across the world to enhance my advocacy skills and that of the team at SYND to continue advocating for a sustainable environment and a sustainable future.
Specifically, here are some advocacy issues from the COP26 outcomes including the Glasgow Climate Pact (GCP), World Leaders Declaration to end Forest and Land Degradation by 2030 and the Glasgow Work Programme on Action for Climate Empowerment.
- Tracking the implementation of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). According to the NDCs synthesis report by the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC), all NDCs that have been submitted by parties are not ambitious enough to keep the global temperature well below 2 degrees celsius. This means we are not doing enough and wouldn’t be doing enough in the next five years. As a result of this, the GCP requests parties to revisit their NDCs in 2022 to make them more ambitious. However, if parties do not implement what they have already pledged to do and revisit to make them more ambitious, it will be the usual talks and promises without action and we know what the implication of that will be. SYND is therefore going to track the implementation of the energy transition thematic area of Ghana’s NDCs.
- The Glasgow work programme on ACE has some specific requests from parties including developing a national strategy for the implementation of ACE. As a youth-oriented organization, we will partner with the Government to ensure young people are included in the process right from the inception to implementation of the strategy.
The author, Patience Agyekum is a Focal Person on Policy/Climate Change at the Strategic Youth Network for Development (SYND).
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