January 19, 2017

What Happened at COP22?

Written by Hunter Isgrig, Crowd360 Digital Campaign Producer

This past November in Marrakech, Morocco, delegates from 200 countries assembled at the 22nd annual climate change “Conference of the Parties,” COP22, to showcase the progress made since the 2015 Paris Agreement at COP21.

Earth to Marrakech

This past November in Marrakech, Morocco, delegates from 200 countries assembled at the 22nd annual climate change “Conference of the Parties,” COP22, to showcase the progress made since the 2015 Paris Agreement at COP21. A common theme found throughout conference conversations was a clear demand for increased participation in both funding climate change projects and implementing smart solutions for climate change across the globe. During COP22, climate experts and country delegates re-affirmed commitments to the Paris agreement and continued discussing how more developed countries could contribute $100 billion a year for climate change projects in poorer nations.

This convening served as a reminder to all parties that climate change is amongst us and is currently impacting the daily lives of millions of people across the world. Climate experts and policymakers reminded us that we can not solely rely on technology to be at the fore of our climate change response; to make the most progress in combatting climate change, we must center our response around ecosystems. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and several other United Nations (UN) agencies emphasized the importance of factoring agriculture, forests, arid lands and oceans into environmentally sustainable “decarbonization” strategies. Which essentially means we must include these variables when building new ideas and solutions around reducing carbon emissions and other aspects of climate change.

So what kind of solutions are there?

During COP22, there were two days where participants could focus on development and climate (D&C days). The D&C days provided a space for working scientists, experts, funders, policy makers and project implementers to share their successes and challenges with actually implementing these types of strategies to reduce carbon emissions, communicate climate trends to farmers, or ensure gender equity when targeting climate goals, for example.  A conference highlight during the D&C days was a presentation from IDRC showing the impact of using drones to communicate climate activity to policy makers, enabling an environment for data-driven policy decisions.

Another highlight from the D&C days was a presentation outlining a joint partnership between FHI 360, Uganda Chartered HealthNet, the Ministry of Water and Environment, Makerere University and the International Development Research Centre working together to implement the Climate Change Adaption and ICT project (CHAI). This project seeks to leverage both ecosystems and technologies to abate climate change issues in Uganda’s “cattle corridor,” a drought-prone region.  CHAI establishes a two-way communication stream between seasonal/daily weather patterns and farmers, as well as farmers and the market where they sell their goods.

Of course, climate change will affect more than our agricultural systems if we allow it. Some experts even refer to climate change as a “threat multiplier,” exacerbating negative externalities across sectors. In Bangladesh, for example, floods, droughts, and natural disasters have forced thousands of farmers out of work by destroying their crops, livestock, and homes. Research from Girls Not Brides suggests that as a result of climate change, between 50,000 and 200,000 people have been forced to migrate from their homes to Dhaka where the costs of living are much higher. These increased costs, along with the social and financial insecurity they bring, force many families to marry off their young daughters and sons. The Thomson Reuters Foundation released a video leading up to COP22 connecting the fact that around 30% of girls in Bangladesh are married before their 15th birthday party and the country’s tumultuous climate issue.

We can clearly understand the consequences of ignoring climate change. There are quantitative indicators that continue to show us the impending threat it has on our society as well as formulaic methodologies in reducing these threats. However, pushing the dial forward on reducing carbon emissions, increasing crop yield in drought-prone regions, and leveraging technologies to inform policy makers are crucial reasons to why COP22 and future COP meetings matter. These conversations are integral to the betterment of our livelihood and our environment.  The Sustainable Development Goals will be insurmountable if we cannot continue to effectively develop smart solutions to the evolving issue of climate change.

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