Tuesday, December 4, 2018


United Nation's Framework Convention on Climate Change's (UNFCCC) annual Conference of Parties (COP) is happening in Katowice, Poland this year. I am part of the Indian Network on Ethics and Climate Change (INECC) team attending the COP24 on behalf of two UNFCCC observer organisations - Laya and SCINDIeA, that are members of INECC. 

4 Dec 2018

While the UNFCCC COP is mostly a meeting of official representatives of the governments of the world trying to tackle the global problem of climate change, there is also a large presence of non-government stakeholders at these meetings. These include both civil society organisations and businesses. Special exhibition space is made available separately for non-profits and for-profits, and there are also a large number of official as well as unofficial side events happening throughout the couple of weeks of the COP. There is also a specially designated area where individual countries showcase their climate change related achievements in their own pavilions, and some side events happen in individual country pavilions too. So apart from the governments doing their own business of climate change negotiations, COP is also a big networking and information exchange opportunity for non-government stakeholders active in the sectors of climate change mitigation (reducing green house gas emissions) and adaptation (finding ways to deal with impacts of climate change that are now avoidable).

The INECC team had a very busy schedule on the first official day of the COP, 3 December. We had to set up our exhibition booth in the morning and we also had our official side event on the topic of Climate Friendly Technologies: Improving Adaptive Capacity of Women and Building Resilience.

Our Exhibition Booth

Ours was one of the first lot of side events on the first day of the COP. First week of the COP is relatively quiet, although intense negotiations are on among government officials and real work on finalising the documents is going on behind the scene. The politicians start arriving in the second week, and that generates a lot of buzz.

So we were not sure what to expect. There were three speakers lined up - myself from Samuchit, Siddharth D'Souza from Laya and Colin McQuistan from Practical Action UK. We were supposed to have a self-invited speaker, an ex Member of Parliament from Uganda, but after the initial email expressing her intention to participate, her office had been noncommunicative. However we were fortunate to have Dr. Saleemul Haq, International Center for Climate Change and Development, based in Bangladesh, as a commentator. The event was ably co-ordinated by Ajita Tiwari, national facilitator of INECC.

It was a pleasant surprise to see the event room fill up with audience a few minutes before the starting time. We had 90+ people in the audience when we started, and although people keep coming and going as they are trying to catch a number of parallelly ongoing events, we still had more than 50% of the original audience when we finally wrapped up 90 minutes later.

The Crowd at our side event

The main issues that Siddharth and I focused on were climate friendly technological interventions for cooking energy, lighting and access to clean water. I emphasised on the need to bring in the dimension of user friendliness in R&D as well as dissemination of clean cooking energy technologies, and talked about how listening to the concerns of women cooks and the men decision makers in the families have helped us achieve successful replacement of traditional wood burning smoky cook stoves by low smoke and efficient improved cook stoves in our recent projects.  Siddharth described Laya's work on adopting low carbon technologies that require no fossil energy inputs for lighting, water pumping and water filtration for tribal communities in Eastern Ghats. He also talked about his experience of using carbon finance for providing improved cook stoves to these communities.

Speaking at the side event

Colin talked about a people centric approach to disaster warning and management framework as a crucial component of disaster preparedness. Such a system becomes all the more crucial in view of the increased risk of natural disasters due to climate change. He highlighted a need for the various international negotiations on disaster preparedness to be aligned with each other, and the approach to be more rooted in ground realities being faced by people.

Dr. Huq talked about the success story of Bangladesh in reducing population growth rate through education and empowerment of women. He also described how  women-centric solar energy and improved cook stoves initiatives in Bangladesh that are not only improving women's quality of life, but also creating income generating opportunities for them which raises their status in the family.  
We all highlighted the disconnect between policy and finance on one hand and the ground reality on the other hand, and the lack of gender considerations in technology focused discussions in the climate change negotiations.

The audience was quite responsive and overall we got positive feedback on the event. So that is one main task that we had as a team at COP24, and I think we did well!

From L to R: Siddharth, Colin, Myself, Dr Huq, Ajita

Over the last couple of days I have already passed by the India pavilion several times. More about that tomorrow! Also, in subsequent blogs I will try to explain what exactly is the focus of COP24 and what is expected out of this meeting.

Photos Courtesy: Myron Mendis, Laya

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thank you! We are glad and proud that we have such innovative, responsible and socially aware delegates from India!