Despite the first trimester of the year usually being quieter in the global climate change agenda, the year 2019, the year of ambition before national governments will enhance their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in 2020, started quite busily. In particular, March and the beginning of April saw a number of important events, meetings and announcements on the road to COP 25 in December, including:

Africa Climate Week

As one of the first major climate events this year and after the adoption of the Paris Agreement Work Programme at COP 24 in Katowice, the Africa Climate Week 2019 took place from 18 to 22 March in Accra, Ghana. It was the first of three regional climate weeks to take place this year, followed by the Latin America & Caribbean Climate Week taking place in August in Salvador, Brazil, and the Asia Pacific Climate Week convening in September (place TBD).

Under the theme Climate Action in Africa: A Race We Can Win, Africa Climate Week was organised by a number of core partners, including UN Climate Change (UNFCCC), Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action, the World Bank Group, African Development Bank, West African Development Bank, CTCN, UNEP, UNEP DTU Partnership, UNDP and IETA.  The event was divided into a pre-Summit with affiliated events taking place, and the Summit itself including a high-level segment and thematic sessions. Discussions focused on cities and local action, energy transition and nature-based solutions, which align with three of the transformational areas of the UN Climate Action Summit. As part of the event, a regional dialogue on NDCs for Africa was organised, aiming at supporting countries in the process of implementing NDCs and preparing next-generation NDCs with increased coverage, clarity, and ambition. In addition, the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action (MP-GCA) held a meeting to introduce its work to those not familiar with it and facilitate discussions on how to enhance the ambition in the African region. In break-out groups, participants discussed best practices on enabling environments for non‐state actors, as well as actions needed to support long‐term policy‐making and sustainable finance.

The outcome of the regional climate weeks will feed into the UN Climate Action Summit taking place in September in New York, U.S., to enhance the regional dimension of the Summit.

UN Climate Action Summit 2019

Secretary-General António Guterres has published an information note on the objectives and approach of the 2019 Climate Action Summit of the Secretary-General, taking place on 23 September in New York, U.S. Heads of States and Government from Member States will be invited to the Summit along with civil society, businesses, organisations, youth and other representatives from the public or society at large.

The Summit aims to raise national ambition, prompt transformative changes, and generate political momentum to accelerate action to implement the Paris Agreement. It is outlined that the Summit will be action-oriented, presenting transformational initiatives in nine interdependent tracks, each led by at least two national states with support by different actors. The tracks are as follows:

  • Mitigation Strategy (Japan and Chile)
  • Social and Political Drivers (Peru and Spain)
  • Youth and Mobilisation (Marshall Islands and Ireland)
  • Energy Transition (Denmark and Ethiopia)
  • Resilience and Adaptation (Egypt and the United Kingdom)
  • Nature-Based Solutions (China and New Zealand)
  • Infrastructure, Cities and Local Government (Turkey and Kenya)
  • Climate Finance and Carbon Pricing (France, Jamaica and Qatar)
  • Industry (India and Sweden)

The coalitions on the different tracks will work with other partners to advance potential deliverables to be presented at the Summit. A preparatory meeting in Abu Dhabi, UAE, will serve to present and select the proposals to be presented at the Summit. The information note further details the selection criteria for initiatives to be presented, as well as a tentative timeline and key dates.

Climate and SDGs Synergies Conference

At the beginning of April, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and the UNFCCC convened the first global multi-stakeholder conference on synergies between the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement in Copenhagen, Denmark. The conference served as an Expert Group Meeting (EGM) on SDG 13 (climate action) ahead of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in July in New York, U.S. Almost 400 participants attended the conference, including representatives from government, youth, the private sector, academia, civil society and the UN system to discuss means of implementation to support synergistic action, how to promote synergies on the ground based on Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) and NDCs, and the approaches for a cross-sectoral integrated response for a just transition. Further, participants provided input to the outcome document, which will inform the in-depth review of SDG 13 at the HLPF. In addition, UN DESA and UNFCCC announced their plans to establish a global knowledge network and platform on the synergies between climate and SDGs, building on all the inputs to the conference, to be launched before the HLPF.

Please find the outcome summary of the conference here.

Launch of COP25

On Thursday, 11 April, the Government of Chile, host of the 2019 UN Climate Change Conference (COP25) officially launched COP 25. The event counted on the participation of Chile’s President, H.E. Sebastián Piñera, as well as Environment Minister Carolina Schmidt, the President of COP25, along with other ministers, members of parliament, mayors, councillors, civil society organisations, environmental NGOs, young people and children. The event included the launch of the official logo of the conference and its website, and further announced that COP 25 will take place at the Parque Bicentenario Cerrillos, which will accommodate both zones of the conference.

In addition, business entrepreneur and social change-maker, Gonzalo Muñoz, was introduced as Chile’s High-Level Climate Action Champion. Being the first Climate Champion coming from the private sector, Gonzalo Muñoz is the founder of recycling company TriCiclos and leader of a cultural movement to advance environmental sustainability and social inclusion. The appointment of a Climate Champion outside the usual suspects could bring new opportunities, knowledge and experience, ensuring effective non-Party stakeholder recognition and leadership in the UNFCCC process. Gonzalo Muñoz will serve for two years, working closely alongside Tomasz Chruszczow, Special Envoy for Climate Change, who was appointed as Climate Champion for Poland last year.

COP 25 is known as the COP for ambition before the new round of NDCs in 2020. In addition to this overall topic, the incoming COP 25 Presidency announced seven additional topics to be highlighted at the conference: Oceans, Antarctica, Electromobility, Renewable Energies, Circular Economy, Ecosystems and Forests, and Biodiversity.

The COP 25 launch event was broadcasted live and can be watched here (only in Spanish).

The way ahead

The global climate change agenda keeps being busy with the next major event coming up next month, namely the International Conference on Climate Action – ICCA2019 – taking place in Heidelberg, Germany, on 22 and 23 May. It is hosted by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, the State of Baden-Württemberg and the City of Heidelberg, and will bring together stakeholders from a wide range, including leaders and decision-makers from countries, regions and cities around the world. The conference aims to facilitate vertical dialogue and cooperation among all levels of government and will highlight necessary levers for climate adaptation and protection from the perspective of the sectors, and focusses on financing and governance with a significance for the local level.

In June, the fiftieth sessions of the Subsidiary Bodies of the UNFCCC (SB50) will take place in Bonn, Germany. The Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA50) will address topics related to inter alia the Nairobi Work Programme, Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, and market and non-market mechanisms under the Convention. The Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI50) will focus on inter alia common time frames for NDCs, the development and transfer of technologies, as well as gender and climate change. Both bodies will jointly address the review of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and damage associated with Climate Change Impacts and the Koronivia joint work on agriculture, among other topics. Other events to take place in the framework of the SB50 Sessions include the Technical Expert Meetings on Mitigation (TEM-M) and Adaptation (TEM-A), addressing the topics of Energy: off-grid and decentralised energy solutions for smart energy and water use in the agri-food chain and adaptation finance, including the private sector, respectively, a workshop on gender and climate change, and the 7th Dialogue on Action for Climate Empowerment.

From 9 to 15 July, the seventh session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development(HLPF 2019) will take place in New York, U.S., under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), and followed by a three-day ministerial meeting convening from 16 to 18 July 2019 held jointly with ECOSOC’s annual high-level segment. Addressing the theme  of empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality, the HLPF will conduct in-depth reviews of six Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 13 on climate action.

In August, the Latin America & Caribbean Climate Week takes place in Salvador, Brazil, and the Asia Pacific Climate Week convenes from 2 to 6 September (place TBD), followed by the UN Climate Action Summit on 23 September in New York, U.S., and COP 25 from 2 – 13 December in Santiago, Chile.