In Morocco, world’s nations reaffirm commitment to climate change action

Moroccan vlllage in the Dades Valley.

Moroccan vlllage in the Dades Valley. The latest round of U.N. climate talks recently concluded in Marrakech. (© Mauro Pezzotta)

For the past two weeks, the world has come together here in Morocco to begin the urgent task of making last year’s Paris climate agreement a reality.

Paris was an historic achievement, as 193 countries from all corners of the globe recognized the severe threat posed by climate change and agreed to act as never before. With the Paris Agreement now in force, the Marrakech climate talks at the 22nd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP22) served as a foundational conversation on implementing the landmark climate accord and galvanizing action toward concrete solutions.

More indigenous voices at the negotiating table  

Climate change is not a problem that can be solved by governments alone. It affects every facet of human life, and climate change solutions must enhance the well-being of people everywhere if they are to succeed.

That is why Conservation International (CI) has advocated for equity and inclusive participation at every step. In Marrakech, we have focused on the opportunity to partner with indigenous peoples and local communities, which are among the most long-standing and effective stewards of nature that we have. Twenty percent of the Earth’s habitable land falls within the territory of indigenous peoples, and that area is home to a majority of our worldwide biodiversity. Therefore, realizing nature’s potential as a climate solution that can deliver on the goals of the Paris Agreement requires that countries fully embrace the role indigenous peoples and local communities can contribute to national and international mitigation and adaptation efforts.

Through the events in Marrakech, the focus on sharing knowledge about traditional practices, and recognition in remarks during the conference’s high-level sessions, we are seeing indigenous peoples and local communities taking their rightful place at the negotiating table.

At COP22, countries agreed to concrete next steps for developing a knowledge platform to exchange best practices for addressing climate change. This platform will make indigenous peoples’ knowledge available for all — countries, communities and other actors — to guide climate actions as well as contribute to well-informed decision-making from the national to international scales.

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How will countries get the help they need to implement critical actions?

Implementing the Paris Agreement will require increased support to developing countries in the form of finance, capacity-building and the transfer of technologies. CI has been involved in deploying new, innovative instruments such as green bonds to channel additional investment in climate change solutions. Alongside the COP, the Moroccan government announced and launched the Adaptation of African Agriculture initiative, which will promote the improvement of agricultural production and ensure food security.

Additionally, we saw encouraging signs from the increased participation of the private sector in the negotiations.

CI’s director of climate policy, Maggie Comstock, sees an opportunity here: “The finance needed to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement cannot come from governments alone. The impact of climate change is global, which means it is imperative our response is also  global — coming from nations, businesses, indigenous people and communities alike to find solutions to close the funding gaps.”

Raising the profile of nature-based climate change solutions

While some questions remain regarding how we will adequately fund climate action, one certainty is that nature can play a critically important role in helping to curb our warming climate and adapting to its impacts.

In Paris, CI and partners successfully pushed to ensure the inclusion of nature-based solutions such as ecosystem-based adaptation and REDD+ in the global climate agreement. Nature-based solutions are among the most immediate and cost-effective solutions to fighting climate change available. Moving forward, although many technical questions remain to be answered in order to guide the rules of the Paris Agreement, countries agreed to a two-year time limit for the rules for implementation of the Paris agreement to be defined.

“Over the next six months, countries will further define what should be included in national goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate impacts, and determine guidance needed to facilitate the transfer of emission reductions to supplement national mitigation efforts,” said Lina Barrera, CI’s senior director of international policy. “When working on these elements, the bottom line is this: Nature must be part of the solution in order to meet the Paris Agreement targets.”

The progress made in Paris and built upon in Marrakech to combat climate change transcends borders and sectors.

We look ahead knowing that the world is united in implementing and building on the Paris Agreement. While there will be challenges ahead to make it a success, there’s one thing we at CI are certain of: We will continue working with our partners — indigenous peoples, local communities, businesses, NGOs and governments — to protect the benefits nature provides to all people and to generations yet to come.

Shyla Raghav is Conservation International’s climate change lead. 

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