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Day 5 at COP23: Global Action Days kick off with SDGs in spotlight

Day 5: Friday, 10 November 2017

Climate action—The climate action agenda has firmly been part of the international dialogue on climate since the 2014 Climate Summit, and even before that, innovative solutions and ideas have been integral components of the climate conferences. Now that the Paris Agreement has been adopted, the action agenda has taken on a new urgency, as it encompasses all the work being taken to actually reduce emissions and build climate resiliency—and which help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Today, the Bonn Climate Conference looked at action on energy, agriculture, and water.

A view from above—It was while astronaut Thomas Pesquet spent 196 days at the International Space Station that he realized how fragile the world seemed. At first, he said, there is that awesome window on the world that “space view,” but on closer inspection, it was apparent how small and how connected everything was, and how much we need to protect the planet. In his luggage was a copy of the L’Accord de Paris”—the Paris Agreement, and he is now urging people to do even more to address climate change.

The inconvenience of it all—Al Gore has attended many climate conferences, and he visited the Bonn Climate Conference today with an updated message of urgency and hope that the world will move to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. “I’m gonna show you some slides. That’s what I do.” The fundamental question he asked was, “do we have to change,” and the answer was yes. Unprecedented heatwaves, floods, droughts, extreme weather and increasing numbers of refugees and migrants are starting to have political consequences. But he saw an emerging spirit around the world to tackle climate change, noting dramatic investment increases in renewable energy in countries such as Algeria, Chile and India. “We are approaching a moment in time. We are approaching a tipping point,” adding that the Bonn Conference needed to provide more momentum.

Investing in water–Global financing to prioritize sustainable water management must triple to US $295 billion per year to meet Paris targets, said representatives of the international water community who co-signed a “nature-based solution declaration” on Friday, the COP’s Water Action Day. As 40 per cent of the world’s population could face water shortages by 2050, what start as local water management issues have global impact as resources become scarce and migration accelerates. “Involving both women and men in decision making and integrated water resources initiatives leads to better sustainability, governance and efficiency,” said Mariet Verhoef-Cohen, President of the Women for Water Partnership, and Co-Chair of Water Scarcity in Agriculture Platform (WASAG).

Building national climate plans—Central to the success of the Paris Agreement are the nationally determined contributions—known as NDCs in climate speak parlance–of every country. But for many countries, putting these plans together, and then implementing them, requires assistance. That is why UNDP is devoting its space at the Bonn Climate Conference to discussions on the NDCs. And it’s not so easy. There are questions to be answered, what to invest in, whether, or how, to scale up certain initiatives, and what would be the financial requirements. UNDP experts say that governments are looking for “impact investment,” but determining what works best is sometimes counterintuitive. For example, investing in small scale clean energy renewable energy projects might not yield the greater emission reductions or income benefits—often investments in social development can yield far more value. In Burundi, it is estimated that a $50,000 development investment had delivered $181,000 in benefits, annually, in better health and employment.

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