Of Global Climate Action: Who Are In The Room?

Since global climate action is such a big thing at COP, it is necessary to know who is the major player in the movement. Under the Global Climate Action track, a simple panel discussion was organized to give the audience a glimpse of what would be expected from the different groups.

The panel was moderated by Mr. Bertrand Piccard, with the panelists:

  • Feike Seijbesma, CEO of the Royal DSM;
  • Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Indigenous Leader and member of the Climate Action Leadership Network
  • Gale Rigobert, Minister for Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development, Saint Lucia
  • Karien van Gennip, CEO of ING Finance
  • Park Won-soon, Mayor of Seoul

I like how the panel reflects the diversity within the UNFCCC. Although not every constituency was represented on the panel, I feel like there the panel had a fair representation from both the government sector and non-government sector.

Dr. Gale Rigobert started the session with a powerful speech, highlighting the role of non-party stakeholders in building enthusiasm in climate action. “How long does enthusiasm last? Can enthusiasm infuse what is happening in the Bula Zone?” Her questions were strong and demanding, but necessary for us to rethink the paradigm of dealing with climate issues – to fix before the problem strikes as building resilience is cheaper than repairing communities. Another important part of her message was to rethink innovation and modalities to climate finance so that they are more accessible. Although she is a representative from the government, she brought up a very interesting issue of COP – state-centrism and urges more action to be taken beyond the state.

Dr. Rigobert speaking on the panel.

The next panelist was Ms. Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, sharing her perspectives on how indigenous people contribute to climate actions. She highlighted the importance of indigenous knowledge help in adaptation and mitigation. Ms. Ibrahim put forth her hope to see how the NDC can be implemented in the daily life. One of my favorite quote from her was “if we act properly now, the future will be okay; don’t be burdened by the projection of the future.” The representation of indigenous people, along with other interest groups, in UNFCCC, is vital for a holistic consideration of the issues. These groups need to be heard as they bring valuable inputs from their respective fields.

Ms. Ibrahim sharing her insights from the indigenous people group’s perspective.

Speaking from the perspectives of business, Mr. Feike Sijbesma highlighted that people are the resources and the role of business should only be here to speed things up. His advocacy is very demand-based, focusing a lot on customer sovereignty in pivoting business decisions. He also highlighted how Royal DSM is fulfilling their corporate social responsibility through reducing carbon emission, increasing renewable energy usage and climate change advocacy, which I feel is a good mix in terms of CSR as they take into account climate actions in their operations.

Mr. Park, the mayor of Seoul gave a very informative speech, sharing how the city of Seoul practices sustainability. He encouraged citizens to be part of the solution and not just sit and wait for the government to take all actions because he believed real actions are only attained by the cities and that Seoul is a successful example because of its citizens. This shift from the state level to the local level is an important shift in paradigm after days of sitting in the negotiation rooms, listening countries speaking from an aggregate level. Ms. Karien van Gennip urges us to shift our perspective of “fighting climate change is expensive” to be profitable. She gave us a perspective on the sustainable transition in private finance, highlighting the growth of green financing vehicles, including green bond and credit that includes sustainable ratings in its consideration.

Overall, it is very insightful to have a change in inputs of how people from different sectors are working together in the fight against climate change. Knowing that there are already so much that is being done right now shines a positive light on COP despite the slow negotiation process because we know we have the whole world coming together as a community in taking climate actions.

Written and Photos by Xiandi
Edited by Varun

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