Climate Change

What do alternative sources of energy, cooking workshops and a virtual reality device to make people feel like refugees have in common? Cultural innovation and the will to change positively the world we live in. Last month, the Center for Contemporary Culture in Barcelona hosted a round of conferences and a prize for social innovation, gathering specialists in such topics as sustainable cultural management and climate change in a two-day row of interesting debates about the challenges of our times.

Cultural Innovation International Prize
Cultural Innovation International Prize

The pannels started with Laura Pando, an experienced cultural manager who strives to help the cultural sector to adopt more sustainable practices. In the last 10 years, Laura helped museums, music festivals and governments to opt for clean energy solutions, calculate their carbon footprint and develop leadership in the industry. «In a recent poll, we discovered that 50% of people don’t remember ever having a conversation about climate change. Art and culture have a great responsibility on promoting this debate. If we don’t talk about it, it won’t exist in people’s minds», she said.

The following conference was presented by Laura Faye Tenembaum, science senior editor for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab. In a passionate talk, she engaged the audience on the idea that climate change is a «fascinating challenge». «You can’t see countries’ political divisions or boundaries from the space. We’re all facing the climate change and have to work together», she said. Laura warned that the effects of carbon pollution might be invisible on earth but are becoming more visible from space. Climate change, she says, is not a topic of the future. It’s already been happening for decades now and affecting our daily lives. «We need to transform how we live. Society is resistent to change, and has a negative feeling about it. I dare you to face the challenges as exciting”, she concluded.

Laura Faye Tenembaum
Laura Faye Tenembaum

Laura Tenembaum was also a member of the jury for the Cultural Innovation International Prize. In its second edition, the competition gathered 228 projects from 59 countries, mainly developed by young researchers, artists and entrepreneurs. The 10 finalists presented their projects in Barcelona and the winner was The Newton Machine, a battery prototype that stores renewable energy using gravity. The prize also gave an audience award to Neighbourhood Upcycling, a locally based project for plastic recycling that can be replicated to promote circular economy worldwide.

The jury gave a special mention for the project Ode for the Future, which used art, installation, and performances to show the effects of climate change in six geographic spots from Catalonia, Spain. All the projects, though, had the opportunity to be presented to a broader audience and to create an impact – the finalists received feedback from the jury, as well as ideas to put into practice.

The projects were exposed at the Centre of Contemporary Culture in Barcelona
The projects were exposed at the Centre of Contemporary Culture in Barcelona

Click here to read more about the 10 finalists and the Cultural Innovation International Prize. (in Spanish)

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The city of Katowice, in Poland, was chosen by the UNFCCC as a venue for the 2018 UN Climate Change Conference, the “COP 24”.

Katowice, Poland
Katowice, Poland

It will be the third time the country hosts a UN Climate Change conference – the two previous ones were held in 2008 (COP 14 in Poznań) and in 2013 (COP 19 in Warsaw).

Patricia Espinosa, the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said: “I would to like to thank the Government of Poland for agreeing to host COP 24 as part of the Eastern European Group and look forward to working with Minister Jan Szysko and his team to make the conference a success on all fronts.”

“2018 will be another important year for international climate diplomacy as nations move forward to implement the Paris Climate Change Agreement – indeed 2018 is when governments are expected to reach some key milestones,” she said.

“These range from finalizing the guidelines for fully operationalizing the agreement to taking stock of how countries are doing collectively in terms of being on track to realize Paris’s aims and ambitions over the coming years and decades,” added Ms. Espinosa.

Ms. Espinosa was shown a research centre in Toruń where the Government of Poland is scientifically monitoring how forests absorb carbon. Forest protection is a key part of efforts to address climate change. Ms. Espinosa said she looked forward to joining with the people of Poland to realize a successful conference that pushes forward the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

As the next Conference of the Parties COP23, to be held on 6-17 November, in Bonn, Germany, is being prepared, a group of 79 states and the EU made a call to action and announced more funds to the Pacific Region, heavily affected by climate change and the rising level of oceans.

The UN Climate Conference is part of the preparation events for the COP23
The UN Climate Conference is part of the preparation events for the COP23

The EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States made the call at a UN climate change conference, ahead of the upcoming G7 and G20 leaders’ summits and the next annual UN climate negotiations COP23.

Together, the European Union and the 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) developing countries make up more than half of the signatories of the Paris Agreement on climate change. They urged all partners to keep up the momentum created in 2015.

As an example of commitment and increased cooperation, the EU has announced an allocation of 800 million euros, up to 2020, to support the Pacific Region. Around half of this amount would be directed exclusively to climate action. The EU will also provide another 3 million euros to support Fiji’s COP23 Presidency.

In the last few months, the EU has taken the lead on Climate Action among the G7 states, given the change of presidency in the US and the uncertainty about the commitment of one of the biggest greenhouse gases emitters globally.

Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete said: “Today more than ever, Europe stands by its long-term partners most vulnerable to climate change. We, developed and developing countries together, will defend the Paris Agreement. We are all in, and our joint commitment to this agreement today is as in Paris: irreversible and non-negotiable.”

The UN climate conference took place from 8-18 May to prepare the ground for the next Conference of the Parties COP23, to be held on 6-17 November 2017, in Bonn.

The UN Launches Global Youth Video Competition on Climate Change

The 2016 edition of the Global Youth Video Competition
The 2016 edition of the Global Youth Video Competition

What are you doing to combat the climate change? In order to get answers to this question – and to promote the debate about global warming, the UN launched yesterday a film competition. The Global Youth Video Competition on Climate Change is open to 18 to 30 year olds and will award two winners with a trip to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP23) in Bonn, Germany, in November of this year. They will join the UN communications team as videographers and reporters.

The video competition is in its third edition. Last year, the closing ceremony of the competition took place in Marrakesh, during COP22, and was covered by Horyou blog. In 2016, the jury of the competition had the participation of renowned filmmakers as Bernardo Bertolucci, Fernando Meirelles (director of City of God and The Constant Gardener), and the French actor Christopher Lambert.

As for the 2017 edition, the organizers will accept videos submitted by August 18th, 2017.

The two categories for this year are:

  • Climate friendly and resilient cities
  • Oceans and climate change

Nick Nuttall, Spokesperson and Director of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said: “I am excited about viewing the video shorts that young people from across the globe will be making and sending in, in order to win a place at the UN climate conference in Bonn in November”.

“With the Pacific island of Fiji presiding over the conference—COP23—I would like this year to especially urge young, creative people from small islands and vulnerable coastlines to get out their cameras and their smartphones and submit cool, amazing and inspirational videos about how they and their communities are taking climate action”, added Mr. Nuttall.

The third Global Youth Video Competition on Climate Change is co-organized by the United Nations Climate Change secretariat, the UNDP GEF-Small Grants Programme –https://sgp.undp.org/– and will be implemented through the Television for the Environment (tve) platform.

Engagée sur les thèmes de la préservation des forets et de l’accès à l’eau potable aux populations des pays africains, la ministre de l’Économie forestière, du Développement durable et de l’Environnement de la République du Congo, Rosalie Matondo, était une invitée très spéciale du SIGEF à Marrakesh, lors de la COP22. Paneliste au premier jour du Forum, elle nous a parlé sur les projets du gouvernement congolais pour l’environnement et sur l’importance de la COP22 pour mettre les accords sur le changement climatique en action.

La ministre Rosalie Matondo a parlé au publique du SIGEF
La ministre Rosalie Matondo a parlé au publique du SIGEF

Pouvez-vous nous expliquer sur vos projets de préservation des forêts au Congo et son impact social?

Les forêts, comme nous le savons, régulent les équilibres climatiques mondiaux. Étant conscients de cela, nous avons lancé un grand programme national de reforestation et de reboisement d’un million de plantations. Nous avons une grande superficie de forêts naturelles au Congo et nous sommes conscients que nous devons les préserver. D’un autre coté, le bois est encore utilisé comme source d’énergie extraite des forêts naturelles dans beaucoup de nos pays. C’est pourquoi le gouvernement de la République du Congo a lancé ce programme de reforestation et reboisement, afin que les populations non seulement continuent à utiliser le bois comme source d’énergie, le bois issu des plantations, mais également à pouvoir faire un grand projet de séquestration du carbone.

Le deuxième projet c’est “L’eau pour tous”. Le gouvernement congolais a lancé un programme d’installation de 4 mille forages dans les villages où l’eau de source pose encore un problème. Cela permet l’approvisionnement de l’eau potable mais également d’alléger la pénibilité des femmes qui dans les villages sont obligées de faire des kilomètres pour aller puiser le l’eau.

Durant la COP22, le gouvernement Congolais a lancé un fond de préservation des forêts. De quoi s’agit-il?

C’est le fond bleu pour le Bassin du Congo, toujours pour cet accès à l’eau mais également pour les systèmes de production modernes de l’agriculture, donc des systèmes d’irrigation. La COP22 pour nous c’est une opportunité de financement et de transfert de technologie. Nous savons que les gouvernements peuvent participer au financement de nos projets. Notre attente ici c’est que, déjà, tous ensemble, nous travaillions sur le transfert de technologies et tous ensemble, nous réfléchissions sur la mobilisation et le financement.

La ministre de l’Économie forestière, du Développement durable et de l'Environnement de la République du Congo
La ministre de l’Économie forestière, du Développement durable et de l’Environnement de la République du Congo

Quelles sont les axes de développement de la République du Congo pour la COP22?

Nous avons les acquis de la COP de Paris, parce que nous partons de là. Dans la COP de Paris, les pays du Bassin du Congo avaient donné leur position, et nous, la République du Congo, avons appuyé cette position des pays d’Afrique, des pays du Bassin du Congo et également des 77 pays plus la Chine. Pour nous, toutes les décisions prise lors de la COP21 de Paris sont incontestables, maintenant nous devons aller vers l’opérationnalisation ; c’est pourquoi je remercie son altesse royale qui a mis l’accent sur l’action ici sur la COP22. Nous devons aller vers l’action. Je crois que toutes nos populations sont fatiguées des promesses qui n’apportent pas de solutions. La COP21 à Paris a démontré que nous avons tous pris conscience de la gravité de la situation et même les pays qui n’ont pas signé le Protocol de Kyoto ont signé l’Accord de Paris. Nous avons vu avec quelle rapidité l’Accord est entré en vigueur et c’est un espoir pour la planète toute entière. Nous voulons nous accrocher à cette espoir et trouver des solutions et mettre en action.

De quelle manière le changement climatique a affecté le Bassin du Congo et quelles sont les mesures pour réduire cet impact?

Le Bassin du Congo est la zone où la déforestation est la moins importante. Nous n’avons que 0,05% de déforestation. Mais nous n’en sommes pas contents. Nous savons que ce poumon là, comme le poumon de l’Amazonie, peut aider la planète. C’est pourquoi la République du Congo, après les années 2000, a opté dans sa législation pour une gestion durable des forêts, avec un aménagement forestier, avec la certification forestière, avec le programme national de reforestation et reboisement ; au total, 13% de son territoire est ainsi protégé. Tous ces efforts convergent vers la contribution à la préservation de cet écosystème. Et nous allons vers un fond bleu pour le bassin du Congo qui va aider à la gestion des plans d’eau mais aussi à l’approvisionnement des populations.

Écrit par Vivian Soares

A new interactive platform compares the resilience levels of countries to environmental and social impacts

The report compares the levels of vulnerability to conflicts and climate changes among many countries
The report compares the levels of vulnerability to conflicts and climate changes among many countries

Social conflicts and environmental change: what is the economic impact of such a mix? The answer can now be found in a new monitor launched this month by The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies, in partnership with the Clingendael Institute, during the Planetary Security Initiative Conference in The Netherlands on December 5th and 6th.

In times of international commitment to a low carbon economy transition, the study innovates by modelling the impacts of both climate change and conflict risks for countries. The indicators also aggregate items like Low Carbon Risk and Economic Resilience.

The report concludes that countries which are highly reliant on carbon intensive industries, like Australia, Russia and Iran, are more vulnerable regarding Low Carbon Risk, while African countries like Rwanda and Uganda reach a good score. On the economic resilience side, North America and Europe are leading the ranking, but countries like Kazakhstan, Botswana, Saudi Arabia and South Korea present a very low level of vulnerability.

Countries which are highly reliant on carbon intensive industries are more vulnerable regarding Low Carbon Risk
Countries which are highly reliant on carbon intensive industries are more vulnerable regarding Low Carbon Risk

According to the consolidated report, the least vulnerable countries are:

  1. Finland
  2. Denmark
  3. Norway
  4. Japan
  5. Netherlands
  6. Sweden
  7. Australia
  8. Slovenia
  9. New Zealand
  10. Austria

The aggregate monitor shows that the most vulnerable countries are in the Middle East and North Africa, due to their conflict history and its role in driving vulnerability. Peacemaking efforts, together with an economic diversification towards a low carbon economy, can drive sustainable development for the most affected regions.

The interactive tool can be found on the Planetary Security website

Link to the full report

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