COP20: “Don’t come to Peru if you don’t want to change the world”
In 2015, the most important climate change decisions will be made with the design and launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
This year, in December, Peru will host the 20th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC - COP 20), during which a draft text will be produced for a decision at the Paris convention the following year. This will shape our approach to climate change over the next decade and very much determine the scale of its impact on our future.
Last month, a zero draft on the SDGs was created, with 17 potential goals. Although this number will most likely be reduced to 10 or less in Peru, the focus was predominantly applauded for its approach. Jeffrey Sachs, director of the UN initiative the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the UN secretary-general's special advisor on the SDGs expressed his expressed his delight with the first goal being focused on the ending of extreme poverty.
He further went on to praise the scientific base of the draft and insisted that scientists in a variety of fields, from climate to ecology, need to be outspoken in the production of the goals. The two degrees Celsius limitation in global warming is one such area where science has led to comprehensive adoption by the UN Framework.
The first ever United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), held in Nairobi, Kenya, last month, had a keen focus on the upcoming COP 20 in Lima and on the wider SDGs. Earlier in the month, at the G77+China summit in Bolivia, the Peruvian President Ollanta Humala Tasso met with the United Nations' Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to discuss his country's hosting of the COP 20 and to reiterate Peru's commitment to climate change.
The COP 20 will focus on four key areas - Adaptation, Climate Finance, Mitigation and Technology - with Peru a suitable choice as host. The 29th State of the World report from the Worldwatch Institute in 2013 hailed Peru as the only nation hitting the 'sustainability sweet spot'. This was due to the balance, based on 2007 date, they had achieved in human development and resource consumption. This was also assisted further by the commitment of the country's Environment Officer to eliminate deforestation, whilst the President vowed to fight any trace of environmental pollution.
Peru faces a tough task in delivering a draft at COP 20, in time for the 2015 Paris summit. Clever diplomacy is earmarked as being key; and with the 195 member countries showing disparity in their current positions, the process will certainly not be free from hurdles. Despite this, there has been some tentativeness in the mission of the summit, with Peru's President keen to point out that the event marks the start of a new chapter more so than the closing of a book. Aiming too high has cost the COP dearly in the past and thus Peru has been focused on maintaining a balance between making a big impact and realism.
The hosting of such a key summit comes at a time where Peru is staring down the barrel of climate change domestically, with the country susceptible to devastating impacts if both domestic and global action isn't taken. As the host, positive dialogue and adequate pressure must be put on the biggest emitters, while at the same time ensuring the inclusivity of the lesser developed countries. Peru's COP 20 slogan is “Don’t come to Peru if you don’t want to change the world”, and with such a bold start, it is crucial that they deliver.
Located at the Westin Hotel and Convention Centre in Peru's capital, Lima, Climate Action Programme and UNEP will host the Sustainable Innovation Forum 2014 (SIF 14) to run alongside the COP 20. The largest commercially inclusive side event will bring together "world leaders, CEOs, senior executives, national, regional and city leaders, investors and industry experts", seeking to "address climate change, accelerate green growth and sustainable development".
SIF 14 will be a key event in the progression of the issues being discussed at the COP 20 and presents a great networking, ideas sharing and debating platform. Key topics that will be addressed centre around innovative finance, adoption, mitigation, resilient cities and energy efficiency. Event Director Claire Poole commented, “Lima represents a crucial milestone in the climate change dialogue, it’s vital that all stakeholders, not just the usual suspects on this world stage, are part of the conversation.”
At the 2013 edition of the annual event, there were addresses by Achim Steiner, Under Secretary General of the United Nations and UNEP Executive Director; Janez Potocnik, Commissioner for Environment, European Commission and H.E. Mr. Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Minister of the Environment, Peru, and host of COP20, in addition to closing remarks from Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action.
More details on this year's event can be located at http://cop20lima.org, with the event promising to be as innovate and impactful as last year.