Dr Deepa Pullanikkatil, NDC Coordinator for Eswatini
COP 27 entered its second week and today was “Gender Day“. I started the day attending a side event at the Namibia Pavilion. The session was a Panel Discussion on ” Gender mainstreaming in a highly dynamic cultural society of Namibia“. The panelists were Mr. Karl Aribeb, Environment Investment Fund of Namibia, Ms. Louise Brow from Triple Capital and Ms. Margaret Angula from University of Namibia.
“The more rigid the patriarchy is, the more you have to engage men. Namibia is a cultural differentiated society and therefore Gender Action Plans should have qualitative indicators that address cultural issues.” said Margaret Angula from University of Namibia. Any research that is done at the University follows an approach of “Knowledge for impact”, where 50% of the effort should go into “impact”, so that research gets implemented. Creating instruments for gender mainstreaming is a good way forward, said the moderator Ms. Aina Maria Ileta from Environment Investment Fund. “Research needs to provide evidence (quantitative and qualitative) on Namibia’s highly dynamic cultural society. we need more research on gender and culture and the knowledge that comes from there needs to inform our programming.”
Brown said “Resilience and gender are very much linked, as climate change affects men and women differently. Research shows that women led businesses invest 90% of their revenue in social in upliftment such as education for their children, but men invest only 30%. We need more qualitative data to have a better nuanced understanding on gender.“
Aribeb said “We are beginning to reap the dividends of partnership with the University. The Environment Investment Fund would like to build on such partnerships including that of Southern Africa Climate Finance. EIF will need data on gender and interrogate after each and every activity on the gender implications and what impact has that activity done in addressing gender inequality. We need to engage men more“, he concluded.
I shared with the panelists the experiences from Eswatini where we integrated climate climate change into our Gender Policy and currently as we develop the Climate Change Bill, we need to ensure we integrate gender into it. The moderator assured that Namibia will be glad to have a knowledge exchange with Eswatini to share experiences. Ileta and Aribeb shared their contacts with me for organizing a webinar for knowledge exchange between Eswatini and Namibia.
Climate Information Services Side event
“Co-development of tailored climate services for multiple socio-economic uses and stakeholders in Africa” was held at the World Meteorological Services (WMO) pavillion.
Co-production of Climate Services for East Africa (CONFER) is an EU-funded research project focusing on climate adaptation through co-production of Climate Services in East Africa. Their main objective is to co-develop dedicated climate services for the water, energy and food security sectors with stakeholders and end-users, to enhance their ability to plan for and adapt to seasonal climate fluctuations. With the help of statistical and machine learning tools, they want to improve the accuracy of weather forecasting in the region, in order to reduce impact associated with extreme weather. They disseminate climate information through relevant channels including radio programmes in vernacular languages in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Uganda. Solar powered radios were provided to communities such as pastoralists in Kenya to enhance their access to this information. Local radio station staff have been trained in unpacking climate services information to share on radio.
BBC Media Action was part of the panel. A tool called “Reporting on Climate Change” has been developed – check it out here. This could be a useful resource for Journalists interested in climate change in Eswatini!
The event showcased the “Down to Earth Project”, which is undertaking translation of climate information into multilevel decision support for social adaptation, policy development, and resilience to water scarcity in the Horn of Africa Drylands. They train local journalists on how to report on climate change. For more information check here! There are several universities and climate centers in Horn of Africa and Europe who are working on this project. Improving regional climate services and promoting adaptation in the Horn of Africa are the two objectives and this is done through development of models and tools, establishing automatic weather stations and building capacity of institutions.
The Horn of Africa is facing a fifth failed rainy season in the region and there is famine breaking out in Somalia. Understanding rural community’s information needs is key to support delivery of these needs. “When we do not have rain, there are no ceremonies happening, like marriages.”, said an elderly community member in a video that was shown at the event. Use of indigenous and traditional knowledge for predicting droughts helps these communities plan their livelihoods. A younger farmer talked about how he listens to the radio programmes and received climate information through it and felt that modern weather forecast is 90% accurate while traditional ways of forecasting was only 20% accurate. There appears to be a merging of traditional and modern knowledge in the community and a community meeting is held to look at both knowledge-sets before a decision is made on the way forward. Community based research helps identify what information communities need to make decisions.
An interesting aspect of the research was that even though there was prolonged drought, groundwater supplies are increasing. More information is available here.
FOCUS Africa is a new climate services initiative in southern Africa. Dr. Lucy Mtilatila presented about climate trends in the Lake Malawi Basin, from hydrological and meteorological data. Two degrees increase in global temperatures can drop down lake levels substantially and increase intensity of drought by 81% and increase duration of drought by 6 months, said the presenter. Malawi’s hydropower depends on its rivers flowing and will be affected by drought, significantly impacting on its economy. More information on this can be found here.
We had bilateral meetings with ICAT Director on supporting Eswatini with NDC tracking. Another meeting was held with Margeret Pyke Foundation to plan for the side event on 17 Nov.
AU High level dinner
The Principal Secretary, NDC Coordinator and Climate Finance Advisor joined the African Union organized high level Ministerial dinner. At the dinner, the Green Recovery Action Plan (GRAP) which comprises of several projects across Africa was showcased. Eswatini has submitted 12 projects amounting to $822million to the AU GRAP to mobilize funding towards a just transition and green recovery. More information available on this here.
At the dinner, Principal Secretary accepted Eswatini to be the champion for Pillar 5 on sustainable green infrastructure and this was received with loud applause at the high level dinner event. Another feather in the cap for the Kingdom! What a wonderful day it was! A cherry on the cake was that I was privileged to meet Priscilla Akchapa, award winning gender activist. She was speaking in four events on Gender day at COP 27.
Today is “Energy Day” at COP 27 and the pavilions were abuzz with side events on the theme. I attended an interesting session on “Coal to Nuclear” where experiences from Romania and USA were shared. The speakers were quite convincing about how a “just transition” is possible when the same skilled workers from coal plants can be employed when the coal plant is converted to a nuclear plant. I need to learn more about this to have an informed opinion on this.
IRENA had five side events on various topics including on energy transition of companies moving from distributing fossil fuels to supplying clean energy, development of green hydrogen plant to capture CO2 from the atmosphere, offshore wind, the Dead Sea Declaration and on renewable energy jobs.
Emissions Gap report
I was honoured to join a panel which was discussing the Emissions Gap Report. Simon Steill and Inger Andersen gave remarks at this event and the panelists were authors who contributed to the Emissions Gap Report. I shared experiences from Eswatini and spoke about how our revised NDC had an emissions reduction target, on how we were using the knowledge from the Technology Needs Assessment (TNA) to enhance the NDC and how we developed an NDC aligned NDP.
The authors of the report shared about how the window was closing fast and action needs to be accelerated for decarbonization. For more information on the event and to download the Emissions Gap report use this link.
NDC Partnership Regional Forum
I joined the Eswatini’s NDC Focal point, the Director of Meteorology and Nompumelelo Dladla from Ministry of Finance to attend the regional forum for anglophone countries at the NDC Pavillion. Pablo Viera, the Global Director of NDC Partnership spoke about the new support that countries will received to develop Long Term Low Emissions Development Strategy (LT-LEDS). Discussions were on country experiences and how NDC-P could support NDC work further. We also had a few smaller internal meetings as Eswatini delegation to discuss proposals that we would be pitching to funders. It was a productive day!
Today is “Biodiversity Day” at COP 27. Human activities impact on biodiversity, particularly urbanization and industrialization as well as natural resources extraction for production.
At the NDC Partnership Pavilion, an event titled “Accelerated climate actions on industrial decarbonization in Africa” was held. Africa only accounts for 4% of global emissions but are the most affected by climate change. Agricultural growth has reduced by 37% due to climate change. The population is expected to double by 2050 and this will require more food production and infrastructure investments. Industrial decarbonization should be done step by step said the panelists, starting with energy efficiency and smaller improvements before moving to transformations like usage of green hydrogen. The panelists elaborated on the need for more climate-resilient industries that will remain competitive, save scarce natural resources, protect the environment, and be prepared for future climate change impacts. Technology transfer is key to decarbonization. An example was given of the building sector where 22% of emissions can be reduced in buildings just by having a better design, recycling of waste and energy efficiency. Public private partnerships and stakeholder engagement is necessary for just transition and addressing country priorities such as energy access is important before we talk about moving completely to renewables, said a panelist. NDC Partnership has a knowledge portal where several knowledge products are available which could be useful as countries think about decarbonization. NDC Partnership will be supporting countries on the development of the Long Term Low Emissions Development Strategies (LT -LEDS).
UNDP side event on Transition to Clean Energy
At the UNDP pavilion, the discussion was on the Sustainability Accelerator program and other initiatives supporting transition to clean energy. UNDP has $300m in grants for scaling up NDC implementation in the Arab region particularly for energy transition. A priority is to expand mini grids and solar irrigation (decentralized solar solutions) in Arab states, said a panelist. Another panelist stated that Lebanon supported SMEs with de-risking to invest in renewables. There is need for capacity building for private sector for a “bottom-up” energy transition. Youth and women empowerment through creation of jobs in the energy transition is an opportunity that countries can take. Standard Chartered Bank was represented at this panel and the panelist mentioned that more than 30% of management positions are occupied by women in the Standard Chartered Bank. Women empowerment is key to ensuring a just transition. Enhancing local perception on renewable energy is best done through job creation and through that there will be greater support from communities for the clean energy transition, concluded the panel.
Green jobs pact for Youth
I attended an interesting session on “Accelerating young skills and talent for Green Jobs” where YOUNGO and others were in a panel discussing on creation of green jobs for youth. The speakers said that creating green jobs represents a future down payment for the future of our generation. For decarbonization, people who can drive the green economy need to be skilled, said Vladislav Kaim from YOUNGO. Ms. Lola Muller from Ministry of Environment, nature conservation, nuclear safety and consumer protection, Germany said that Germany is committed to the pact and has started initiatives for the same. Sustainable schools and Youth Climate Delegates programme were some of the initiatives showcased by Abdulla Alremeithi from UAE. To create green jobs, it is imperative to create an enabling environment for businesses, said Amadou Sako from International Organization of Employers (IOE). Mr. Ludovic Voet from European Trade Union Confederation said that creating green jobs is also about reskilling, creating quality jobs which are well paid and bring prosperity to workers and not allow youth to be exploited. Providing tax incentives for companies that create jobs was an example showcased from Argentina. Its important to link the green jobs conversation with the global net zero goal. The Climate Change Act in the UK started the net zero transition, said Nick Bridge, the Foreign Secretary’s Special Representative for Climate Change in the UK. This is useful information for Eswatini, as we are developing our climate change bill.
The Green Jobs for Youth Pact can be downloaded here. I met with Vicky Aridi, Program Manager YEO 2030, Generation Unlimited Young People’s Action Team Member, who moderated the session. She has taken my contact to share more information about the Youth pact, so that we can explore how Eswatini can join this and create green jobs for youth. This is timely as UNDP is working with Government of Eswatini to launch a Youth Fellowship program. More information on this event can be found here.
In between the various events we were attending, I had the opportunity to have a short meeting with UNDP colleagues Daisy Mukarakate and Excellent Hachileka and provide updates on our work in Eswatini.
At the end of the day, Nompumelelo Dladla and I were having coffee and met with Dr. Rashi Gupta who is part of the International Solar Alliance delegation. She introduced us to an interfaith group who had a side event on “Authenticity and love in leadership”. Imagine if world leaders all trusted and loved one another, how easy it would be to reach consensus! Value based approaches can help the world move from green washing towards real change. The session ended with a beautiful meditation on peace, something we really need in the world today a truly apt beginning to “Solutions Day” which starts tomorrow.
Today is “Solutions Day“. This day is aimed to create a space to share best practices and lessons learnt and demonstrate the link between the innovative solutions and efforts to enhance the climate action. Special President Envoy of USA, John Kerry had just tweeted in the morning “We have solutions to keep a safer 1.5 degree C future within reach. But to tackle the Climate Crisis, we must urgently act now by implementing and expanding on the commitments and goals all countries have made. We have the tools, so let’s put them to work.”
I started the day by grabbing a cup of coffee (most pavilions give free soft drinks and coffee to delegates) and headed to a meeting called by Margaret Pyke Foundation to prepare for our side event today. I met with side event speakers from Uganda and Ethiopia and we were briefed on the programme and had a look at the layout of the room, which is the Presidential rooms named after Gods of ancient Egypt (this one was called “Osiris”).
Solution: Climate Finance Mapping
Then, I walked over to NDC Partnership pavilion for a side event organized by UNDP, Climate Policy Initiative and European Forest Institute (EFI). Daisy Mukarakate from Regional Service Center for Africa (UNDP) moderated the session with a number of speakers on a side event titled ” National Climate Finance Mapping: Challenges and Opportunities”.
“Making perfect the enemy of work”. I was particularly touched by this statement by Henning Wuester, Director of Initiative on Climate Action Transparency (ICAT) (UNOPS), emphasizing that countries need to start off the work on climate finance mapping, data collection for transparency and make improvements along the way. “The important thing is to start”, he said.
Steve Hammer from World Bank talked about the coalition of Finance Ministers on Climate Action and elaborated on the Helsinki Principles. He echoed Henning’s sentiments on starting off without the need to perfect the ideas first and said that the engagement of ministries on various issues like carbon tax and long term strategies has started off and the “knowledge sharing” component is critical for mindset change amongst finance ministers.
Dipak Patel, Head of Climate Finance, Presidential Commission of South Africa said that South Africa is a great example of how high level political will has been demonstrated through establishment of this commission. Dewa Ekayana from the Fiscal Policy Agency, Ministry of Finance of Indonesia shared experiences on climate budget tagging and coding and their NDC has an unconditional emissions reduction target of 29%. This was the trigger to do the climate budget tagging and the methodology was to link the process with the budgeting process to avoid double work. Indonesia also has green bonds and by tagging data, they are able to identify which activities can be financed through green bonds. This is a useful information for Eswatini, whose Central Bank has applied for support under the “Greening of Central Banks” initiative.
A challenge that the speaker from Indonesia spoke about was that their central bank uses a digital system and the local government uses a manual system for budgeting. Therefore digitalization is needed across government levels.
“Brown finance” was a term used in this discussion and it means investments in fossil fuel or polluting technologies. Patel said that high emitting projects can be analyzed and data on how much of the funds are used for green activities versus “dirty”/polluting activities needs to be done. Such data will help the country improve the methodology over a period of time. There is a risk of such “brown” investments to become “stranded assets” in future as the world transitions to green investments in the future. Thus Govt. spending should be mindful of this. South Africa has launched a “Just Transition framework” and will be embedding climate tagging in their budgeting system, said Patel. Ekayana said that there is need for transition from brown to green projects. However, there is no financing for new brown projects. Some countries like Indonesia needs money to make the transition to green projects, he said. Henning said that ICAT has support for countries on climate finance tracking.
Data from NDCs was used along with other information to develop a useful resource called “Africa Climate Finance Landscape” report, which can be downloadable here.
Solution: Removing barriers to family planning in climate change policies
The NDC Focal Point Duduzile Nhlengethwa-Masina and I participated in an event organized by Margaret Pyke trust on “Removing barriers to family planning within African climate policy processes”.
Often professionals working in climate change ask me, “what does family planning have to do with climate change?”. Yesterday we got the opportunity to talk about this. Family planning is crucial to building adaptive capacity and resilience in communities. There is a growing evidence base that links women’s met needs for family planning with reduced human vulnerability to climate change and enhanced resilience in the face of climate shocks. In Eswatini, the unmet need for family planning is 15.2% among women aged 15-49, and is higher among adolescents at 28.6%, and highest among the poorest. According to the Education Survey conducted by the Ministry of Education between the years 2015 and 2018, about 300 girls dropping out of school annually due to pregnancy in Eswatini with a total of 1,288 girls missing out on education due to pregnancy in the 4 year period. This has serious implication for climate change adaptation and resilience building in Eswatini. Unplanned pregnancies are a hindrance for women to adapt to climate change. The moment women and girls are given access to family planning they gain control over their bodies, can space births of their children, plan their pregnancies and gain better health for them and their children and can participate fully in income generation activities and others to adapt to climate change. On the flip side, Duduzile said that access to family planning, maternal care services and in general health services are affected when there is a climate related shock. There were experiences shared from Uganda where family planning has been integrated into climate change policies. Ethiopia shared guidelines on how to integrate family planning into climate change processes. I think these guidelines would be useful for Eswatini as we are developing the NDC implementation Plan. I have requested Margaret Pyke Trust to share this with us. The event was live streamed and the recording is available here.
Solution: Solar and battery storage systems
Nompumelelo Nkambule and I attended an interesting sessional at the International Solar Alliance (ISA) pavilion. ISA mobilises resources to provide access to reliable & affordable solar energy to all. The event was titled, “Accelerating clean energy transition through storage”. With improvement in battery technology and power storage solutions, the adoption of renewable energy sources can be boosted. Examples were shared from USA and India where hybrid and solar systems were set up. Gujarat’s Modhera village is a fully solar powered village including with electric vehicles charged through solar power. It involved setting up more than 1,300 rooftop panels on residential and government buildings. Another example shared was that of a 1 MW hybrid energy storage project in Om Shanti retreat in New Delhi. This has 614kWh Lithium batteries synchronised alongside existing 480kWh tubular gel batteries and has been operational since 2021. “The electric vehicles function silently without disturbing the peaceful environment of the medication center campus, nestled in nature”, said the presenter, Dr.Rashi Gupta. For more information visit: https://twitter.com/i/status/1593276526467813376
18th November, DAY 12 – THE END
Around 3am on Friday 18 Nov, a draft text emerged, of the major agenda items of over 30 crucial issues, only 2 have been agreed upon so far. The agreement repeats many of the goals in last year’s Glasgow Climate Pact, including pursuing efforts to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius and calling for continued efforts to “phase down” unabated coal power. “It does not, however, push for a phase-down of all fossil fuels, as India and the European Union had requested”, reported CNBC. Although there is agreement to include “loss and damage” payments on the agenda for the first time, it does not include details on how to establish a loss and damage funding facility — a highly divisive and emotive issue that is seen as a fundamental question of climate justice. Environmental campaigners expressed deep concern and from what I heard in some of the last day discussions, no body was happy.
“As climate impacts and injustice accelerate, lives, livelihoods, cultures and even whole countries are lost, the latest draft cover note from the COP27 Presidency pushes the pedal to the metal on the highway to climate hell,” Yeb Saño, executive director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said in a statement.
“Let perfection not be the enemy of the good” – This has been said in many sessions at COP 27. There is no perfect solution that could make all parties happy. It means the various agreements that are being concluded at COP 27 are majorly a compromise, and not anyone will claim they are 100% happy and not everything was agreed upon. There is a lot of work that will continue to be worked upon post COP and some meetings will be ongoing on saturday and sunday extending COP beyond the original 18 Nov date. I am leaving Sharm El Sheikh tomorrow and will, like millions around the world look forward to hearing of the final outcomes through the various online channels. Meanwhile, let me share my updates from 18 November 2022.
High level summit summary released
On 7th and 8th of November 112 world leaders gathered under the title “Together for Implementation” to discuss and deliberate how to further deliver on the global climate agenda and translate climate commitments into implementation. The assembled Heads of State and Government acknowledged the scientific reports on current and future impacts of climate change, and recognized the gravity of the climate emergency facing the planet. While recognizing every county’s responsibility to act and rise to the occasion to deliver on previous commitments from the Convention to the Paris Agreement, leaders reiterated that it was time to move from pledges to rapid, robust and impactful implementation. There were six multi-stakeholder high-level roundtable discussions over the two days of the Summit that highlighted possible solutions to chart a path to overcome climate challenges and how to provide the finance, resources and tools to effectively deliver climate action at scale. Eswatini’s Right Honorable Prime minister was part of the roundtables on food security and water security. The summary of the high level COP 27 summit is available here.
The Adaptation Fund has received nearly USD 230 Million in pledges so far at COP27.The pledges will help the most vulnerable communities adapt to climate change through concrete adaptation solutions.
NDC Partnership launched support for Long Term Low Emissions Development Strategies (LT-LEDS). Countries can apply for this beginning 1 December 2022 until 2025 on a rolling basis.
SIDS receive support
The Pacific Energy Access Fund (PEAF) has been identified as a Small Island Developing States (SIDS) breakthrough concept at the COP27 High Level Champions Talanoa Dialogue on SIDS Breakthroughs.
Side event on Legal perspective on climate change
At the German pavilion there was an interesting side event called “A legal perspective on climate change: Legal means as a game changer in climate change politics?”. Eswatini is developing her climate change bill, so we thought its worthwhile to attend this session, notwithstanding that the pavilion serves good coffee.
The panelists discussed about laws for climate protection, with experiences from Germany. Les Nesselhauf, a Policy Advisor to GermanZero who was involved in the 1.5degC legislative package for Germany, said , “Its not enough to change behaviour, such as riding bicycles and use of solar power. There is need for more action at larger scale, such as national level and we need laws to make these changes.” “If we solely rely on individual responsibilities, we will not keep within 1.5degC.”, she said. Although there has been progress in the energy sector, the steps are minor and expansion of LNG infrastructure in Germany is not in line with 1.5DegC. She felt the actions of German Govt were not ambitious.
Lutz Weischer from GreenWatch said that climate mitigation is a game changer to reach the level of climate action that is needed in Germany and globally. A constitutional right to climate protection was achieved through their advocacy work (court case) when the climate act was set up. Luisa Neubauer, an activist and co-organizer of “Fridays for future” movement was one of 9 plaintiffs who took the German Govt to court. “I sued my Government because we tried everything else and broken records of protests, brought scientists, churches, schools, unions, farmers to push for climate action and after trying everything else, we had to take the government to court and we won the case.”
This happened in February 2020, when a group of German youth led by Luisa Neubauer filed a legal challenge to Germany’s Federal Climate Protection Act in the Federal Constitutional Court, arguing that the act’s target of reducing GHGs by 55% until 2030 from 1990 levels was insufficient. The complainants alleged that the act therefore violated their human rights as protected by the Basic Law, Germany’s constitution. The Court ordered the legislature to set clear provisions for reduction targets from 2031 onward by the end of 2022. In response to the decision, the federal lawmakers passed a bill approving an adapted KSG that requires, at a minimum, reduction of 65% in GHGs from 1990 levels by 2030. It has been in effect since August 31, 2021. More information here: http://climatecasechart.com/non-us-case/neubauer-et-al-v-germany/
COP is a great place to network. I had the pleasure to bump into an old acquaintance Dr James Orbinski, former President of the Medecins sans Frontiers International Council, who accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999 for MSF’s pioneering humanitarian work on several continents. We had met a few years ago in Malawi and it was a pleasure to catch up and hear updates on his work.
As the negotiations continue over the weekend, I wish the negotiators the very best. This would be my last update from COP 27. I leave Sharm El Sheikh with memories of a global collective working together for the greater good. The scale of the challenges facing our planet can seem daunting, but with discussions, negotiations and consensus I am hopeful we will reach a positive outcome for this beautiful planet.
I must also mention that the Egypt Government really made us feel warmly welcomed and Sharm El Sheikh city lived up to their reputation of being an amazing city to host such a huge conference of over 35,000 people. Shukran Egypt!