COP26 and the way forward for Small Island Developing States (SIDS)

COP stands for Conference of the Parties and is the United Nation’s annual climate change conference where governments get together to make critical decisions on what to do about the climate crisis. COP26 held in Glasgow in November 2021 brought together global parties to accelerate actions towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The reflections on COP26 have been mixed. Some people appreciated the agreements made while others were left disappointed.

The initial aims of the negotiations were to obtain commitments between participating nations to not significantly exceed the 1.5oC increase in global temperatures. This would limit the most drastic effects of climate change on our world. However, the current business as usual trajectory for climate change ranges between 2.4oC to 2.7oC increase which would be catastrophic for many of the earth’s inhabitants.

The key agreements at COP26 were to bring forward more ambitious emissions reduction pledges to 2022 and for more advanced economies to support those countries that are less well off. There were also high-level commitments to phase down the use of coal and reverse deforestation by 2030. There were agreements by private institutions e.g. banks and pension funds to invest in clean technology and enable progress towards Net Zero targets. Like all targets of course the challenge is with implementation. Countries must develop credible plans and strategies for implementation. Globally, people and organizations must be equipped to lead the change towards a sustainable future.

For the Caribbean region and other Small Island Developing States (SIDS) which are disproportionately affected by a crisis which we have not predominantly created, SIDS experience extreme vulnerability to sea level rise and environmental disasters. SIDS must now complete the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) which are country-level plans to reduce emissions and also strengthen our international collaboration in financing to accelerate climate change adaptation initiatives.

Global engagement continues post COP26 with progress being made in many places but not at the speed or scale required. 2020 marks the start of the UN’s Decade of Action up to 2030 for accelerating sustainable solutions to the world’s greatest challenges like climate change. All sectors of society must mobilize on three levels; Global Action, Local Action (country level) and People Action (youth, civil society, media, academia and other stakeholders) to deliver the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

All of us are called to action; now!