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COP23 – The First Week

By Stacey Kimmig

The first week of COP 23 is over, and it has been a busy and exciting week! It is sometimes overwhelming trying to decide what meetings and events to attend and what issues to follow, as well as support the Women and Gender Constituency in their advocacy work. After the opening ceremony, meetings started with a flurry. In the first week, Syria announced that it would sign in support of the Paris Agreement, leaving the United States as the only country not in, after President Trump announced last May that the US would leave the Agreement. Although the US did send delegates to the COP, this is the first time the United States does not have a pavilion at the conference center. However, a group of state and local governments, universities as well as business leaders have shown up outside the official venue with a pavilion of their own. With the slogan “We Are Still In”, speakers led by Michael Bloomberg and California Governor Jerry Brown expressed their dedication to upholding America’s pledge in the Paris Agreement. The US Climate Action Center was packed, and the speakers were met with applause and support, as well as with chanted protests. Governor Jerry Brown responded to the protesters, saying that he agreed that more needed to be done, but that politicians “have no magic wand.” He reiterated however, that more would be done at a local level to exceed the Paris Agreement goals. This brought more applause. The COP President and Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, as well as the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC Patricia Espinosa, were there to accept the report of the US representatives.

This week, we will attend an awards ceremony for the winners of the Gender Just Climate Solutions awards, which recognizes projects in three categories: technical, non-technical and transformational climate initiatives, all with a gender focus. It will be interesting to meet the women working in their communities to improve the lives of women. We are also hopeful that a Gender Action Plan will be officially adopted this week, which would provide guidelines for increasing women’s participation in the negotiations, as well as at local levels in climate issues. The Women and Gender Constituency has been advocating for the GAP for years, and this would be a major success for the furthering of the participation of women in climate solutions. We will see what other successes the second week brings…perhaps some more ambitious nationally determined contributions (NDCs) by countries? We shall see.

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