COP26 defined by ‘reinvigorated multilateralism’


The UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), held last month in Glasgow, was defined by a “reinvigorated multilateralism”, a top UN official said on Tuesday during an online discussion on how the summit’s outcomes will impact climate action and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“The Glasgow Climate Pact to keep global warming to 1.5C and the other important commitments are a sign of progress”, UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) President Collen Kelapile told the special meeting.

Transform tragedy to opportunity

As of last month, more than five million have now lost their lives during the pandemic and for the first time in over 20 years, extreme poverty increased as inequalities and gender-based violence rose, he said.

Yet, despite expressions of solidarity and commitments, vaccine equity remains elusive.

“As trillions are being spent on COVID-19 recovery, we must transform this tragedy into a historic opportunity…ensure that recovery efforts are aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the goals of the Paris Agreement to ‘build forward better’”, stated Mr. Kelapile.

He urged the world to swap traditional “siloed” approaches for cross-sectoral decision-making and innovative solutions that “unlock synergies across government portfolios, sectors of the economy, and the SDGs”.

“Recovery packages and policies to address the impacts of the pandemic must also bolster climate action and promote the transformative changes we need to realize the objectives of Paris and Glasgow as well as the SDGs”, upheld the ECOSOC chief.

‘Best tool’ forward

General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid, acknowledged that COP26 outcomes fell short of what was hoped for.

“We saw this in watered down language and in climate targets that had yet to reach the ambition needed…[and] in the wide gap between promises and the policies needed to deliver upon those promises”, he explained.  

On the other hand, he continued, solace was found in the fact that steps were taken to keep 1.5C alive, and to ensure that humanity reaffirmed its trajectory.

“What we need now is to agree on the pace, and to implement the measures to accelerate and get there”, he said.  

He also affirmed that COP26 outcomes remain “our best tool going forward”.   

‘Building a bridge’

The Executive Secretary of the UN Climate Change body (UNFCCC), Patricia Espinosa, highlighted that during COP26, parties “built a bridge” between good intentions and measurable actions to lower emissions, increase resilience and provide much-needed finance.

“Now, we must build on this momentum to push actions forward in 2022”, she said.

Meanwhile, Selwin Hart, Special Adviser for Climate Action noted that from strong commitments to achieve the 1.5C goal to doubling adaptation finance, Glasgow demonstrated some “real progress”.

However, “we are still knocking on the door of climate catastrophe and must go into the emergency mode to protect lives and livelihoods”, he argued, urging everyone to “get to work and make 2020s a decade to accelerate climate action”.

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