‘Just one month left’: High-Level Champions mobilize momentum at Pre-COP in Abu Dhabi

By Climate Champions | November 1, 2023

As we enter the final month of preparations for the UN Climate Change Conference COP28, 70 ministers, negotiators and climate leaders gathered in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates from 30-31 October to mobilize progress on key issues including adaptation, mitigation, nature and climate finance.

Both UN Climate Change High-Level Champions were present at the sessions – known as Pre-COP – to listen to Parties and share how the work of cities, regions, businesses and civil society (non-state actors) are driving effective climate action.

A key focus is the outcome of the first-ever Global Stocktake at COP28 in December in Dubai – a critical moment as progress towards the Paris Agreement is reviewed and Parties set a new course to a resilient, nature-positive, global net zero future.

“The Global Stocktake shows that we must accelerate emissions reductions, adaptation and resilience, and nature regeneration by 2030 in order to meet the Paris goals,” said H.E. Razan Al Mubarak, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP28.

“This needs to be a whole-of-society transition that reduces inequity and includes women, Indigenous peoples, youth and other traditionally under-represented voices,” added H.E. Ms. Al Mubarak, who today co-hosted a discussion with COP28 observer organizations, including representatives from industry, environmental groups, local governments, academic institutes, gender, Indigenous and youth groups.

Dr Mahmoud Moheldin, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP27, highlighted that the surge of science-based commitments made through various campaigns, initiatives and frameworks developed by non-state actors are already driving action, collaboration and ambition.

“The Marrakech Partnership Global Climate Action Pathways, 2030 Breakthroughs, Breakthrough Agenda, and Sharm El-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda, as well as Race to Resilience and Race to Zero campaigns led by High-Level Champions offer frameworks, targets and lessons learned that lay a crucial foundation from which non-state actors – in collaboration with governments – can respond to the Global Stocktake with speed and scale.”

Dr Mahmoud also used his participation in Abu Dhabi to highlight that the global climate finance system is unfair, insufficient and inefficient, pointing to the need for urgent interventions to unlock financing for climate transition in developing countries that include debt relief and suspension, extending concessional finance and the use of innovative financial tools including carbon markets and debt swaps.

He also highlighted the pipeline of investable projects for climate adaptation and emissions reductions that resulted from the ‘Regional Platforms for Climate Projects’ through a successful partnership between the High-Level Champions, UN Regional Commissions and the COP27 and COP28 Presidencies.

Among Dr Mahmoud’s Pre-COP engagements was a roundtable discussion with the COP28 President Designate Dr Sultan Al-Jaber, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Simon Stiell and co-Chair of the Independent High-Level expert group (IHLEG) on climate finance, Dr Vera Songwe, as well as other experts on climate finance. The IHLEG is commissioned this year by the COP27 and COP28 Presidencies to continue its work that aims at presenting recommendations on scaling up investment and finance to deliver on climate ambition and development goals. The meeting reviewed their draft second report, which lays out the contours of a new framework for climate finance and a comprehensive set of actions. Furthermore, Dr. Mahmoud had a number of bilateral meetings to mobilise Parties to contribute to the second replenishment of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) in his capacity as the facilitator of this process.

“It is crucial to mobilize non-state actors – especially in the Global South – on enablers for climate finance, technology transfer and capacity building,” said Dr Mahmoud. “A pragmatic, realistic and just solutions-oriented approach is needed to deliver transformative progress for climate.”

Another key focus for the High-Level Champions at Pre-COP is nature, with H.E. Razan today moderating a discussion with Ministers, Ambassadors and Heads of Delegation on the urgent need to accelerate collaboration to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.

“Nature loss and climate change are intertwined challenges demanding an integrated response,” H.E. Ms Al Mubarak explained. “I am excited about the progress we’re seeing on nature-based solutions globally, because they can deliver triple benefits including tackling climate change, enhancing biodiversity, and increasing resilience of vulnerable communities across geographies.”

“In the United Arab Emirates, for example, the Mangrove National Park was planted 50 years ago, and today we have 19 square kilometres of mangroves which not only capture carbon dioxide emissions, but also serve as an important nursery for fish, birds, and other wildlife and support an emerging ecotourism industry,” H.E. Ms Al Mubarak said.

As pre-COP wraps up in Abu Dhabi, it is clear there is much work to be done in the final sprint to COP28. The bold leadership demonstrated by real economy actors – and the tools and frameworks they have developed – offer a beacon of hope and inspiration to support this work, and a strong response to the first Global Stocktake.

“With just one month left until COP28, our key message is around ambition and action,” H.E. Ms Al Mubarak said. “We must not plant trees. We must plant forests.”

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