Reflection on COP23: Recognition for the role of local communities gains momentum

By Eamon O’Hara, Executive Director, ECOLISE.
(23 Nov 2017) – COP23 has drawn to a close and while there are clearly concerns in relation to the overall pace of progress, there are also reasons for optimism, especially in relation to the role of Non State Actors, including local communities.
As ever many thousands of bright, passionate people are busy at work in the wings of these COP gatherings, holding meetings, workshops and other events, helping to shape the discussions, but also sharing ideas, developing partnerships and brokering deals on issues linked to the global processes.

In some ways, COP23 was a kind of staging post on the way to COP24 (Poland), when more important ‘stock taking’ will take place on progress in the implementation of the Paris Agreement. It thus felt less pressurised and provided some space for reflection on implementation strategies and how countries were going to meet the deep emissions cuts required in the coming years and decades.

In this context, ECOLISE delegates (Robert Hall, Tim Clarke and myself) took the opportunity to emphasise the contribution and potential contribution of communities in various meetings and discussions, including: a European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) event on Boosting cooperation between all actors to implement the Paris Agreement, a CAN-Europe organised meeting with 15 MEPs and a Turkish Climate Network event on ‘Enhancing the role of non state actors in climate action: cities & climate change’.

ECOLISE’s recent membership of CAN-Europe proved to be particularly beneficial, in terms of providing access to briefings and resources, and opportunities to input into evolving discussions. There is much that can be built on here as we shift attention to COP24 and beyond.

What did this work achieve? Instant outcomes are not the nature of this business, but there are reasons for optimism. As governments confront the scale of the task ahead there is growing recognition of the importance of deeper engagement with Non State Actors. ECOLISE and other organisations have been pushing for greater recognition of and support for the role of grassroots, community-led initiatives. Here again, there are signs that the message is getting through. Of particular note is the establishment of a new Local Communities and Indigenous People’s (LCIP) platform, which will be a party to future rounds of COP negotiations.
Through its membership of CAN-Europe, its developing relationship with the EESC, and its other advocacy work at EU, and by coordinating with the work of individual ECOLISE members such as GEN-International and GEN-Europe, ECOLISE will continue this work and seek to ensure the momentum developed at COP23 is maintained and strengthen in the lead up to COP24.

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