UNESCO’s participation in the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP26)
The complexities of climate change require a holistic approach, which UNESCO provides though its longstanding expertise combining science, education, culture, and communication and information. The Organization will organize or participate in a series of events and exhibitions to bring this expertise to the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP26).
Considering the priorities of the Presidency of COP-26 (the United Kingdom), UNESCO supports countries in incorporating climate change related issues into their education systems through two tracks. This includes implementing the education components of the Climate Convention and Paris Agreement and making climate action a core curriculum component and policy support, technical advice and capacity development in support of the UN-Water Global Acceleration Framework for SDG 6. Climate literacy, incorporating hydro climatic monitoring and forecasting, using knowledge sources such as nature-based solutions and sharing of data, and institutional support will be promoted. The role of new technologies, such as AI, both in terms of their effects on the environment and solutions they provide, will also be reflected.
UNESCO events at COP 26
Snow and ice in climate change – how to create resilience against worsening impacts of disasters and changing water availability?
Organizers: UNESCO-IHP, World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), Tajikistan
Together for tomorrow: Education and climate action
Joint meeting of Ministers of Education and Ministers of Environment/Ministers responsible for addressing Climate Change
Organizers: United Kingdom (COP26 Presidency), Italy, UNESCO
Ocean Action Day
Organizers: Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC)
“Climate Change and Water – The Missing Agenda at COP26” Symposium
Organizer: UNESCO Cat. 2 Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science, University of Dundee, Scotland
“UN System Strengthening Synergies & Promoting Transformational Change to Restore Balance with Nature” Interactive panel discussion
Disaster Risk Reduction Day
Organizers: UNESCO-IHP and UNDRR
- Planning for uncertainty through climate-resilient water management approaches
- Climate vulnerability and water resilience in Small Islands Developing States (SIDS)
- Cold regions Warming
- It’s About Life! Man and the Biosphere Programme 50th Anniversary
Changing minds, not the climate; UNESCO’s climate action
While climate change is driven by global processes, the solutions to offset the negative effects of climate risks are particularly dependent on local conditions. UNESCO’s global network of designated sites (1,121 World Heritage sites, 729 biosphere reserves and 169 Global Geoparks) provide local solutions for climate change adaptation. By assessing the impact of climate change, the designated sites are being used as climate observatories on one hand, and as pilot areas for targeted climate change adaptation actions on the other. They protect essential ecosystems; for example the 50 World Heritage Marine sites (in 37 countries) account for 1/3 of all blue carbon assets on the planet despite representing less than 1 percent of the ocean’s surface. Meanwhile, biosphere reserves cover more than 5% of the Earth’s surface, serving as serve as models of sustainable development while rebuilding our relationship with nature.
Indigenous Peoples are custodians of 80% of the world’s biodiversity, and they are mobilizing their in-depth knowledge of the territories that have been the source of their livelihoods for generations in order to address climate change. UNESCO’s Local and Indigenous Knowledge Systems programme (LINKS) promotes local and indigenous knowledge and its inclusion in global climate science and policy processes, including COP26.
Water is recognized as a climate connector. UNESCO has been developing tools to support climate resilient water management, such as the African Flood and Drought Monitor, flood early warning systems, assessment tools and reporting. UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme will follow an ambitious plan to combine transdisciplinary scientific research, together with education and training for its sustainable management (Science for a Water Secure World in a Changing Environment, IHP-IX).
The results of UNESCO’s global conference on Climate-Resilient Water Management Approaches: Application Towards Climate Action and 2030 Agenda will be presented at COP26, to show how new tools and approaches for climate-resilient water management can fit into national plans for climate action.
The ocean plays an essential role in our climate- it absorbs a significant part of carbon and an overwhelming portion of the excess heat. UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) is at the forefront of new research priorities on climate change impacts on the ocean, climate change mitigation through the conservation and restoration of coastal and marine ecosystems such as mangroves and salt marshes – the so-called ‘blue carbon’ – and the overall contribution of the ocean to combatting climate change. IOC is leading the UN decade on Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, which presents a great opportunity to foster ambitious climate action.
Education is an essential tool for effective and sustainable climate action. UNESCO supports countries to incorporate climate change related issues into their education systems through two tracks by:
- implementing the education components of the Climate Convention and Paris Agreement and making climate action a core curriculum component, and
- policy support, technical advice and capacity development in support of the UNWater Global Acceleration Framework for SDG 6.
As part of COP26, UNESCO is organizing a Conference of Ministers of Education and Environment
In parallel, UNESCO supports Youth engagement through dedicated networks, and is setting up the Youth-UNESCO Climate Action Network (YoU-CAN).