It has been a couple of weeks now since we returned from Paris. Bags are unpacked and we are fully enjoying the holiday season; however, daily reflections continue from the conference.
To begin, it is reassuring for nations such as Kiribati to return home to their islands and to their people with assurance – assurance that the world hears their plight and that the global community has not given up on them but will remain with them. The inclusion of loss & damage for adaptation initiatives within the Paris Agreement is a win for Small Island Developing States. Moreover, the language used within the text is strong and assertive; which is a positive representation of the concerns these nations face. But where do we go from here?
There is increasing evidence daily that climate change is real and affecting many counties, including those in the Global North. For example, just a couple of days in New York City, it was 22 degrees Celsius, which is unheard of. Instead of celebrating Christmas with knitted sweaters, New Yorkers could have entertained holiday dinners in shorts! In our previous post we identified the themes the accord highlighted but much of its action remains to be seen. While the Paris Agreement is a turning point in discussing climate change, there may still be political risk of failing to act on the promises made earlier this month.
Photo from New York Times: New Yorkers playing outdoor volleyball this month.
It is now time for individual countries to work on their national strategies aligned with this agreement. In April, 2016 ambassadors will reconvene in New York at the UN headquarters to sign on behalf of their countries. We are all eager to see what happens next.
Vidya Nair is a first year Master of Development Practice candidate at the University of Waterloo and will be attending COP 21 as part of the Republic of Kiribati’s delegation, a small island nation located in the South Pacific. Her research interests include clean water, education, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), economic development, gender and development and resource management.