Luis Davila on UN Climate Change partnerships, implementing the Paris agreement and recognising concerted climate action.
The inclusive nature of the Paris Agreement means more collaboration between the various stakeholders to actually implement the climate deal. Moving from the “what” to the “how”, the next missing jigsaw piece will need to consist of cross-sectoral partnerships that accelerate the implementation of transformational, low-carbon solutions.
In the words of Luis Davila, COP23 Partnerships Officer, we are moving forward on the implementation of the Paris Agreement – but we need to do much more.
Luis is one of the climate movers and shakers we had the pleasure of meeting at the COP23 climate conference in Bonn. His thoughts are part series of high-level interviews aimed at raising public awareness about the COP23 and its priority topics. The goal of each interview is to focus on one relevant issue that is crucial for the transition to a zero-carbon, climate-resilient economy and society.
What is your role and what brings you to COP 23?
I’m the COP 23 partnerships officer and my responsibility is to encourage a multiple array of partners. We launched a call for partnerships back in April and had a very thorough process of identifying potential partners that included several layers of due diligence that we carried out. So my job now is to operationalise all those partnerships. I look forward to keeping in touch with our partners and learning about what they’re doing and what they continue to do after the COP.
What are in your opinion the three big themes of COP 23?
I think it’s all about implementation. This can come in the form of figuring out ways that countries are going to keep each other accountable for their respective implementation activities; it can be about what they’re actually doing to prepare for 2020 (and beyond), or even taking stock of what they’ve all achieved together as a whole. I heard India is on track to exceed what they promised within the context of their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) so they’re ready for the low-carbon future ahead. We hear more and more commitments and more progress in meeting this challenge. But it’s not going to be enough – it is crystal clear that we need to do more. Science shows us that we need to do much much more. Thankfully the spirit from Paris – one of moving forward together as a large community – is still very strong and we hope to maintain it.
What has been your personal highlight of COP 23 so far and what other highlights are you looking forward to?
I think I’ve had several highlights. One is this beautiful space in the Bonn zone, it came together really nicely with the general support of the German government of course. Another big highlight is the UNFCCC exhibition space, which this year not only has UNFCCC-related activities like Climate Neutral Now but it also includes several partner activities too.
What would be the key message in your opinion to take away from COP 23?
The implementation is taking place but we need to do more.
You also lead the Momentum for Change, an initiative spearheaded by the UN Climate Change secretariat that recognises innovative and transformative solutions that address both climate change and wider economic, social and environmental challenges. Can you tell us a little more about the history and ambition of this?
Someone else actually leads it now, but I can tell you a little about the history. In late 2011 our former Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres had an idea after a conference in Copenhagen. She wanted to have some type of recognition mechanism to showcase what’s happening around the world, and what people and actors are doing to implement COP. Eventually we were able to secure financial support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to focus on showcasing ways that climate action can also tackle poverty. And since then, year by year, our focus has expanded so now we have five other pillars on top of this original one. One focus is recognising women’s leadership and empowerment in climate action, another is called ‘Neutral Now’ and about recognising institutions that have really taken steps to reduce their emissions. We also have a focus area called ‘Financing for Climate Friendly Investment’ that is about locking finance in to address climate change. We have one called ICT Solutions about recognising how the ICT sector really tackles climate change, and then the fifth one, called ‘Planetary Health’, focuses on the interconnection between our planet’s health and human health. So it’s really about looking at the complex systems and how they interrelate with each other and how they have an impact.
How does the Momentum for Change initiative, in your view, support the global effort to transition to a zero carbon economy?
One thing that we found is that it’s really important to recognise positive efforts because it works as a reinforcing mechanism to get others to do more. Once you put something that’s really working and that’s really positive out there, and you provide opportunities to replicate it and scale it up, others will pick it up too. So for the last five years we’ve seen this happening and it’s really encouraging to see similar climate action activities and innovations develop. An example is the work in finance (green bonds) that we were recognising last year. The more we’ve recognised this initiative, the more we’ve heard about other initiatives that are picking up the concept.