The 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27), held in the Egyptian coastal city of Sharm el-Sheikh from 6 – 20 November, concluded with a historic decision to establish a loss and damage (L&D) fund.
The historic decision to establish a L&D fund, which will provide funding to vulnerable nations severely impacted by the ongoing climate emergency, marked the conclusion of the conference.
For the first time since the COVID19 pandemic, the University of the South Pacific (USP), through the Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development (PaCE-SD), was represented in-person by students from across the Pacific Small Island Developing States (Pacific-SIDS).
Professor Elisabeth Holland, Director of PaCE-SD and Professor of Ocean and Climate Change, emphasized the significance of these COP processes, saying, “It is empowering for young people to participate in the COP processes.”,
“Even though it may be occasionally or can be often discouraging, I just want to emphasize and remind us all that your voices matter,” she added.
During a panel discussion organized by PaCE-SD, students shared first-hand experiences and reflected on the COP27 negotiations outcomes and thematic areas, as well as what it means for Pacific-SIDS.
In the panel discussion which took the form of a talanoa session, the students deliberated on their personal experiences attending the climate negotiations for the first time. Students shared reflections on specific thematic area outcomes that they followed during the negotiations including L&D, Climate Finance, Mitigation,the Koronivia Joint Work Program on Agriculture, the Global Stocktake as well as Indigenous People discussions.
During her final remarks, Moe Paulo who was part of the Tuvalu delegation at COP27 acknowledged the donors and PaCE-SD saying “I’d like to thank you so much, thank to the EU PACRES project for the opportunity.”
“I’ve attended some of the COP negotiating previously, and I’ve also attended Pre-COP trainings, but the Pre-COP training that was organized by USP was different in terms of contextualizing the COP negotiations,” she added.
She went on to say, “I encourage students to tap into these opportunities because it’s one thing to be a part of COP but it’s another thing to know your Pacific-SID position before getting into these types of spaces.”
The climate negotiations capacity-building program aims to improve participants’ knowledge of COP processes and procedures, broaden their understanding of how negotiations are conducted, and equip them to provide technical assistance to their respective countries.
The students participation in the UN Climate Change Conferences is a testament to the University’s ongoing commitment to building regional capacity around climate change negotiations. Apart from the main negotiations, the conference provided an opportunity for the USP students to meet with students from other universities, enhancing peer-to-peer learning and networks.
This capacity-building initiative would not have been possible without the generous support and funding provided by various project partners and donors.
We are grateful to the European Union Intra-ACP GCCA+ Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change and Resilience (PACRES) programme, the Pacific Ocean & Climate Crisis Assessment (POCCA) project, the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples, the Norway Pacific Chair funding and the Association of Commonwealth Universities for enabling USP to empower and Shape our Pacific Future Leaders.
Special thank you to the Pacific-SIDS governments for their ongoing vision in building the capacity of our young climate negotiators. The students were able to participate as part of their country delegates because of our regional government endorsements.