Perspective on Progress

Spending my day away from negotiations was surprisingly productive in building relationships and other forms of progress.

A lineup of panels didn’t at first seem like a significant workload, but the people in the room and discussion in each space elevated the work beyond the typical conference.

With the lack of federal leadership on climate change, the U.S. Climate Action Center has created a space for U.S. delegates to continue to come together and share our progress toward the Paris Agreement in our country pavilion. I attended a number of events throughout its programming from Friday through Tuesday, including hosting a panel on “Statewide Coalitions for Climate Leadership: Georgia and Minnesota” on Tuesday morning with our partners at the Georgia Climate Project.

We were fortunate to line up an incredible panel of Minnesotans who shared examples of climate action from their varied perspectives and how they worked across sectors for success. We were supported by a number of partners in attendance and made new connections to continue the conversation in Minnesota and other states.

I spent the afternoon visiting other pavilions, where a number of countries and Parties have set up information on their climate initiatives, as well as hosting events and discussions throughout the day.

Spain’s pavilion hosted a conversation on climate migration, reportedly the first climate change discussion organized by a Secretary of State on Migration. The diplomatic review of migration intersections with climate change was undoubtedly very different from the frontline voices I heard earlier, but shared similar goals to incorporate human rights and climate displacement explicitly across the various global accords to which countries are beholden. The Moana Blue Pacific Pavilion is a joint effort of Pacific island nations and regional organizations, where I learned about the role of sky islands that have higher elevation and hold incredible biodiversity — like the Solomon Islands, which are working rapidly to phase out deforestation and protect Indigenous landowners from private companies.

I followed a high-level discussion on Action for Climate Empowerment, the working group dedicated to education and public awareness. Italian Education Minister Lorenzo Fioramonti described their goals in making climate change education compulsory nationwide, describing education as “one of the most disruptive, positive tools for change.” As an education organization, Climate Generation resonates strongly with the work to prepare educators across communities to teach climate, talk climate, and act on climate, including making schools a place for solutions to model the future that we are creating.

I ended the day with a pair of calls to Minnesota, and finally writing this blog recapping the day. Ending the day communicating about the process of COP25 is a rewarding reminder of how precious and privileged we are to have access to this space and spend our days surrounded by such brilliant and passionate partners. Many leaders we are hearing from have fought to be present, continue to fight to be included, and reach back to lift up their communities throughout panels, stories, models, research, and negotiations. The work to make this process visible and transparent and to make space for participation of civil society is critical to the success that we seek.

Tomorrow I will be back to follow the final days of negotiations and support our coalition partners. I don’t expect to feel the same sense of accomplishment as meeting dozens of people and learning about new issues, but ultimately the progress made on reaching agreements on the Paris Rulebook will be the story told about COP25.

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