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Friday, September 22, 2023

COP26 defined by ‘reinvigorated multilateralism’

Last month’s UN Climate Change Conference, COP26, held in Glasgow was defined by a “reinvigorated multilateralism”, a top UN official said recently during an online discussion on how the summit’s outcomes will impact climate action and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Glasgow Climate Pact
COP26 President Alok Sharma gestures as he receives applause during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain November 13, 2021. Photo credit: REUTERS/Yves Herman

Collen Kelapile, President of the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) which convened the meeting, said: “The Glasgow Climate Pact to keep global warming to 1.5C and the other important commitments are a sign of progress.”

Building a bridge

UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa, highlighted that during COP26, governments “built a bridge” between good intentions and measurable actions to lower emissions, increase resilience and provide much-needed finance.

“Now, we must build on this momentum to push actions forward in 2022,” she said.

Selwin Hart, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Climate Action, acknowledged some “real progress” made in Glasgow – from strong commitments to achieve the 1.5C goal, to doubling adaptation finance. However, he argued that the world is still knocking on the door of climate catastrophe and must go into emergency mode to protect lives and livelihoods, urging everyone to “get to work and make the 2020s a decade to accelerate climate action”.

Best tool forward

UN General Assembly President, Abdulla Shahid, acknowledged that COP26 outcomes fell short of what was hoped for: “We saw this in watered down language and in climate targets that had yet to reach the ambition needed and in the wide gap between promises and the policies needed to deliver upon those promises,” he said.  

On the other hand, he acknowledged the steps taken to keep 1.5C alive, and to ensure that humanity reaffirmed its trajectory, stating: “What we need now is to agree on the pace and to implement the measures to accelerate and get there.” He affirmed that COP26 outcomes remain “our best tool going forward”.   

Transforming tragedy into opportunity

With trillions currently being spent on recovery from COVID-19, Mr. Kelapile spoke of the need to transform the COVID tragedy into a historic opportunity by ensuring that recovery efforts are aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals to “build forward better”.

He urged the world to swap traditional “siloed” approaches for cross-sectoral decision-making and innovative solutions that “unlock synergies across government portfolios, sectors of the economy, and the SDGs”.

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