COP27 Report: Citizen participation can unlock a climate-smart future

COP27 Report: Citizen participation can unlock a climate-smart futureCOP27 Report: Citizen participation can unlock a climate-smart future

By Joe Robertson

The COP27 round of United Nations Climate Change negotiations — which took place last month in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt — had a long list of high-stakes challenges to work out. This complex landscape of intergovernmental negotiations included work toward new agreements on:

  • locally-led adaptation;
  • long-term global reduction of harm from climate disruption;
  • creation of a new Loss and Damage Fund; 
  • scaling up finance in all areas; 
  • accelerating the low-carbon transition everywhere, for everyone;
  • integrative, holistic, and participatory approaches to assessing progress; 
  • integrating food systems, watersheds, biodiversity, and oceans, into national and international climate action planning.

For hundreds of millions of people around the world, the future affordability of food, the livability of their communities, and general opportunity for well-being and security will be shaped by the progress achieved in these negotiating rooms. 

Our delegation: Our team included 22 people on the ground, either using Citizens’ Climate badges or coordinating directly with us. 

  • Our wider network of allies included another 14 close collaborators and ten more team members providing remote support. 
  • Our team personally joined events and meetings involving more than 25 ministers and heads of state and engaged effectively with negotiators and senior U.N. leaders. 
  • We contributed substantively to the planning and content of meetings involving another 40 ministers, mayors, and senior diplomats.

The People’s Pavilion: During this year’s U.N. Climate Change negotiations, The People’s Pavilion made more than 500 events accessible to an online community of 400, with more than 4,500 interactions and near round-the-clock engagement. 

  • A smartphone app made it possible to engage from anywhere with a wireless internet signal. 
  • This community is now a go-to model for ongoing stakeholder engagement and will remain active through 2023. 
  • It also served as a digital platform for engagement among participants in our Pre-COP27 Climate Diplomacy Workshops.

Diplomacy training: Citizens’ Climate International co-hosted with The Fletcher School at Tufts University a series of Climate Diplomacy Workshops in the weeks leading up to the COP27. 

  • The roster of instructors included former senior US and UK diplomats, a leading negotiator from Bangladesh, the former Environment Minister of Chile, and the former President of Costa Rica. 
  • Instructors also included experts in climate finance, Earth sciences, mutual gains negotiation strategy, and climate adaptation, as well as members of the CCI team. 
  • The workshops were open to negotiators, observers, media, scholars, and others who would join or follow the COP27 process.

Non-market approaches: Paragraph 8 of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement (Article 6.8) calls for international cooperation to accelerate climate action through ‘non-market approaches,’ which is shorthand for “anything that is not emissions trading.” 

  • We follow this part of the process closely because it is where carbon taxes, household dividends, border adjustments, and climate income policies fit into the negotiations. 
  • Article 6.8 activities can also include climate-sensitive debt relief, green-labeled finance, climate-conditioned trade policy, and even the cooperative shifting of agricultural incentives. 
  • Sharing of data and technology between countries to foster climate-resilient supply chains also has a home under Article 6.8.

Our reports: Throughout the two weeks of COP27, CCI published daily briefs to a select audience and a major report tracking global progress on the Principles for Reinventing Prosperity. We also supported a major side event on food systems finance and followed up with reports on the COP27 outcomes, the Loss and Damage Fund, and emerging opportunities to accelerate climate action through non-market approaches. 

Main takeaway: Constructive stakeholder participation in high-level policy processes enhances ambition, innovation, and responsiveness to real-world problems and optimizes the flow of resources. Citizen participation can unlock the vast opportunity for a climate-smart future. 

At COP27, we heard calls for robust, ongoing stakeholder engagement in nearly every part of the process, including in the deployment and monitoring of climate finance, as we advocated for in our Capital to Communities report. I want to thank everyone who joined our team this year at COP27 and who supported us remotely for leading by example. 

  • Citizens’ Climate sets a very high standard for our team’s engagement in United Nations processes. 
  • We adhere to our mission and values but aim to serve primarily as constructive witnesses, using observer status to identify emerging—if sometimes unspoken—insights, then we share those insights strategically to help negotiators see what they might otherwise miss.
  • This empowerment-focused approach is a critical way diplomats and advocates can support each other and work for the best possible outcome.

What you can do: The annual U.N. Climate Change negotiations are just the umbrella event for a deep, diverse, global and local process of shifting policy and practice to get us on track to a climate-resilient future. The community of nations is counting on people of conscience to lead locally, so keep engaging your elected officials, keep talking to local media and your community, and keep doing what CCL chapters do. 

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Joe Robertson is the Global Strategy Director for Citizens' Climate Lobby. He is also the author of CCL's booklet, "Building the Green Economy."