In line with its COVID-19 response, the UNFCCC secretariat is currently not convening any physical meetings. But the work in 2020 remains critical for making progress on climate change and, as the Executive Secretary has outlined, is not in any form on hold. While the subsidiary body sessions (SB 52) have been postponed to the week of 4 to12 October 2020, arrangements for continuing work through virtual meetings have been put in place.
The Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) participated in the open series of online events that was conducted under the guidance of the chairs of the SBSTA and the SBI and with the support of the UNFCCC secretariat from the 1st to 10th June 2020. The aim of UNFCCC June Momentum meetings was to maintain motion in the UN Climate Change process and showcase progress in climate action despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
The aim of the opening event was to present the objectives of the June Momentum, to frame the Momentum in the context of climate action, ambition and support, and to introduce the events to be held during the Momentum. More specifically, the opening event outlined the opportunity the June Momentum creates for Parties and other stakeholders to continue exchanging views and sharing information in order to maintain momentum in the UNFCCC process and to showcase progress in climate action in the current circumstances. The key highlights of the online meetings included the following:
Enhancing support for LDCs for climate action
How to improve the delivery of support to the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to effectively address the impacts of climate change, including in the context of emerging challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, was addressed on day 2 of the June event. The LDCs continue to face increasing pressure from natural and human-induced shocks given their structural constraints and limited capacities. Any new wave of shocks, such as the current pandemic, stretches their existing vulnerabilities.
Finance and investments for a sustainable recovery
A special event on ‘Finance and Investments for a Sustainable Recovery’ also took place on the opening day, highlighting actions government, public and private financial institutions can take to integrate climate considerations in response to the current health and economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr. Selwin Hart, Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General and Assistant Secretary-General for Climate Action, indicated that the six climate-related actions to shape the recovery set out by UN Secretary-General can help seize the opportunity and support countries in aligning their economic recovery packages with the Paris Agreement.
National climate action plans discussed
The theme of a key high-level event held on the second last day was “Where do we stand with Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs): Enhancing action on climate change in 2020”. NDCs are at the heart of the Paris Agreement and embody efforts by each country to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. The year 2020 is key for climate change ambition, with countries due to submit their new or updated NDCs. To date, 13 countries have submitted new or updated NDCs that are recorded in the NDC registry.
While some developed countries have embraced the greening of their economic recovery packages against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, this may pose a challenge to developing countries. The Green Climate Fund (GCF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and others are making support available to developing countries for this purpose. UN Climate Change also stands ready to support countries in their NDC process.
The June Momentum also encompassed a number of meetings of the bodies or processes established under the Convention, such as the Durban Forum on Capacity Building; Compliance Committee; Technology Mechanisms; Consultative Group of Experts; Lead Reviewers meeting; technical examination process on adaptation; dialogue on action on climate empowerment (ACE); gender and climate change; and the FWG stakeholder dialogue. It also encompassed consultations by the SB Chairs with stakeholders such as the observers to the UNFCCC, or consultations with Parties on issues such as the periodic review under the Convention, scientific matters, and co-operation with UN and other IGOs.
At the closing event of the June Momentum Event on 10 June, at which young people from 5 regions of the world were represented, Marianne Karlsen highlighted the role of youth in climate action. She indicated that the global mobilization on climate change in 2019 was led by the youth calling for climate ambition and urgent action and also emphasised that there is need to echo the call to Youth and to remind us all that 2020 remains a key year for climate action.
UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa indicated that this series of events has helped educate and raise awareness among the public and has provided an opportunity to Parties and stakeholders to work in a completely new reality. And it has provided a way to advance technical discussions that may have helped Parties to better prepare for continuing with our work when we are meeting in person in October.
And SBSTA Chair Tosi Mpanu-Mpanu further reinforced the key message of June Momentum, namely that COVID-19 recovery packages need to be sustainable and incorporated into countries’ NDCs. “Adopting economic recovery measures that are consistent with low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development will not only help make the goals of the Paris Agreement a reality, it will also help build resilience to future shocks”, he said.
All of the live streamed events featured at the June Momentum can be viewed here.