Practical Action granted Official Observer status at critical 2021 UN Climate Negotiations (COP26)

By Practical Action On 20.04.2021 Climate change

The deadline to meet legally binding 2020 targets set in the Paris Agreement has already passed. And with talks already delayed by a year due to the pandemic, the clock is ticking on global action to tackle the climate crisis.

Colin McQuistan, Head of Climate and Resilience at Practical Action

Colin McQuistan, Head of Climate and Resilience at Practical Action, will attend the UN negotiations as an official observer for the 6th consecutive year. This will enable us to influence the discussions, support negotiators from developing countries, challenge the level of ambition, and encourage international cooperation and collaboration.

Colin said: “Having official observer status is incredibly important as it gives us access to represent the people who face the most devastating effects of climate change. The talks will shape the world’s response to what is still our biggest challenge. They provide a unique opportunity for the smallest and least developed countries, to sit as equals at the negotiating table with the likes of the United States, Russia and China.

Practical Action aims to ensure developing nations, who are disproportionally impacted by climate change, will not be left behind and we will bring a diversity of views and expertise from our work with communities across South Asia, Latin America and Africa.

Afsari Begum, Senior Specialist in Disaster Risk Reduction for Practical Action in Bangladesh, has represented Practical Action at every negotiation since COP23. In 2019 she was also part of the official Bangladesh national delegation:

“We presented Practical Action’s work in the Bangladesh country pavilion. We demonstrated the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance programme, which is a partnership of nine NGOs, private sector and research institutes working together to help the most vulnerable communities be better prepared for flooding and disasters. Previously, we had been working on these issues but had not been able to gain exposure at national government level. Now we seeing funding flow for this type of work, more support from governments, and we are being approached as a recognised and credible partner.”

Colin McQuistan added: “The decisions taken at the COP influence the priorities and plans of national governments for years to come.  For example, we’ve been working on flood early warning systems in Bangladesh, Nepal and Peru for many years and after seeing our success and recognising the need to meet the Paris Agreement targets, the national government of Peru have committed $13m to establish and expand early warning systems across the country. This is exactly the sort of ambitious action we want to see.”

Practical Action will be calling for agreement on specific targets and commitments on the following:

  • More mitigation – deep decarbonisation to limit future global temperature rise to 1.5°C
  • Better adaptation – locking in action that enables the most vulnerable communities to adapt to current climate change, and prepare for future change. With at least 50% of climate finance dedicated to adaptation for communities on the frontline of the climate crisis, the majority flowing as grants and not loans.
  • Nature based solutions – included within all climate plans at an ambitious level to protect remaining primary ecosystems, and restore degraded land including forests and wetlands. Coupled with mainstreaming of sustainable land management for the future.
  • Climate finance in line with the scale of the need – at least $200bn of finance committed to mitigation, adaptation, and the irreversible changes that have already occurred.
  • Loss and damage – a new climate finance mechanism mobilising at least $75bn by 2023, to support the urgent and growing need of many countries where irreversible climate impacts have already occurred and people, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, face losing everything.

This includes targets and commitments that go above and beyond emissions reductions, to ensure those countries least responsible, but most affected, are not left behind. Practical Action will be pushing for action and finance for job creation, livelihood improvement, biodiversity restoration, and protection from current and future climate change impacts to deliver a just transition.

In the run-up to COP26 and beyond, Practical Action will foster international cooperation to unlock opportunities for global partnerships between, governments, the private sector, investors, innovators and non-profit actors to take climate solutions to scale.

For more information about our work on Climate and Resilience for vulnerable communities, please contact: Colin.McQuistan@practicalaction.org.uk

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