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  • Judy Ndiritu

Discovering Inspiration at COP28: Lessons for a Sustainable Future



COP28 took place in Dubai, where world leaders such as U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, the United States’ special climate envoy, John F. Kerry and Sultan Al Jaber, the president of COP28, gathered. These leaders, activists and forward-thinkers were present to address climate change, a concern that affects everyone. Thought-provoking conversations took place, revealing the significance of working together and introducing new ways to tackle this urgent issue.


The ongoing discussions were poised to influence the trajectory of international efforts to address the pressing issue of climate change.


Key Themes and Discussions


Lesson 1: Strength in Diversity

COP28 underscored the power of unity amidst diversity. Representatives from diverse nations, cultures, and backgrounds converged, highlighting the common goal of combating climate change. This collective commitment serves as a powerful reminder that transcending borders and working together is key to overcoming formidable challenges.


In a demonstration of this unity, just hours into COP28, nations approved an unprecedented fund to help vulnerable countries facing climate emergencies. Pledges include $245 million from the European Union (including $100 million from Germany), an extra $100 million from the United Arab Emirates, and a commitment from the United States, through special climate envoy John F. Kerry, to work with Congress and pledge $17.5 million.


Lesson 2: Ambition Fuels Innovation

One of the profound takeaways from COP28 is the transformative impact of ambitious goals. The push for more rigorous climate targets has inspired innovation across various sectors. From renewable energy solutions to sustainable practices, the ambitious pursuit of climate goals is driving a wave of creativity, promising a cleaner, greener future. The Climate Innovation Forum opened with an address by His Excellency Omar Sultan Al Olama, the UAE’s Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, and Director General of The Prime Minister’s Office.


His Excellency Omar Sultan Al Olama said, “We are confronted with two distinct paths - one of hope and opportunity and the other of potential catastrophe. The potential for a technological revolution underpinned by environmental responsibility could lead us to a carbon-neutral future, reshaping our utilization of Earth’s resources to achieve progress and preservation simultaneously.”


Lesson 3: Inclusivity Amplifies Impact

COP28's inclusive nature extended beyond the conference halls, actively incorporating the voices of youth, indigenous communities, and marginalized populations. This inclusivity broadened perspectives and magnified the impact of climate action. The conference exemplified the transformative power of inclusive decision-making.


Ahead of COP28, the Global Conference on Gender and Environmental Data called for urgent action to boost the collection and use of such data globally. Over 200 participants, including representatives from Parties, international and local organizations, and academia, gathered for the event hosted by UN Climate Change, UN Women, WEDO, GEDA, and IUCN.


The call to action urged leaders at all levels to:

  • Prioritize ethical production of gender and environmental data.

  • Accelerate its use for decision-making, program development, monitoring, research, and advocacy.

  • Invest in gender and environmental data production and application.

  • Ensure inclusivity in data governance processes.

  • Strengthen multi-stakeholder partnerships for gender and environmental data.


The full programme of Women and Gender activities at COP28 is available here.


Lesson 4: Nature as a Partner, Not a Resource

A notable shift at COP28 is the acknowledgement that nature is not merely a resource but a crucial partner in our journey towards sustainability. Emphasis on nature-based solutions, biodiversity conservation, and sustainable practices signifies a commitment to coexisting harmoniously with the environment.


THE UNFCCC COP28 Presidency, CBD COP15 presidency, Chairs of The Undersigned Partnerships, Initiatives and Coalitions, and endorsing member countries issued the following joint statement on climate, nature and people:


  • Recognizing that the growing and projected impacts of climate change critically threaten biodiversity and the billions of livelihoods dependent on high-integrity ecosystems;

  • Noting that continued loss and degradation of nature increases climate vulnerability, contributes to significant greenhouse gas emissions, and impedes sustainable development;

  • Acknowledging that efforts which promote sustainable land management, drought resilience and ocean health provide cross-cutting benefits to action on climate change, biodiversity loss, and sustainable development;


Click here for the complete joint statement.


Lesson 5: Youth as Catalysts for Change

COP28 highlighted the youth as catalysts for change. The passion and dedication of young activists and leaders injected fresh energy into climate discussions. The lessons learned underscored that the architects of our future are not waiting; they are actively shaping it.


To foster broader youth engagement in climate policy-making, the COP28 Presidency UAE introduced the International Youth Climate Delegate Program. This initiative selected 100 delegates, with a priority for those from Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Indigenous Peoples, and other marginalized groups.


Led by COP28 Youth Climate Champion Her Excellency Shamma Al Mazrui in partnership with YOUNGO, the program is a groundbreaking effort, providing comprehensive capacity-building and other crucial climate negotiation milestones. This initiative set a new standard for inclusive youth participation in COP processes. Explore the profiles of the selected delegates: click here


Lesson 6: Resilience Amid Challenges

COP28 teaches us about resilience in the face of challenges. While climate change poses a complex threat, the resilience displayed by nations and communities demonstrates the indomitable human spirit. These lessons inspire perseverance and determination to adapt to a changing world.


One of the Declarations on Climate, Relief, Recovery and Peace was, “contributing to strengthening the evidence base on the effective delivery of climate action in countries or communities affected by fragility or conflict, leveraging the experiences and knowledge generated by humanitarian, peace, disaster risk management, and development actors, as well as researchers and academics, and building on community and indigenous knowledge”.


Lesson 7: Tomorrow's Solutions Are Forged Today

It is evident that decisions made today shape tomorrow's solutions. The urgency of climate action demands decisive steps now to secure a sustainable and thriving future. The lessons from COP28 lay the groundwork for a resilient and environmentally conscious world.


Here is a moving statement from His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan:


 “AS COP28 CONCLUDES IN THE UAE, I THANK ALL THE PARTICIPATING DELEGATIONS THAT WORKED TOGETHER TO ACHIEVE THE HISTORIC UAE CONSENSUS TO ACCELERATE CLIMATE ACTION. I ALSO COMMEND THE LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL TEAMS THAT CONTRIBUTED TO THE SUCCESSFUL ORGANIZATION OF THE EVENT.”


In conclusion, COP28 served as a powerful reminder of our collective strength, resilience, and capacity for positive change in the face of global challenges. Let these lessons guide our commitment to creating a world where the beauty of our planet is cherished and protected.


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