Photo credit: Jenna Phillips
By Jenna Phillips, MAGG student
I am more than halfway through my internship with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. At the beginning of June, I travelled to the UNFCCC Office in Bonn, Germany to attend and support the 58th sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation of the UNFCCC (SB 58 for short). The SBs are an annual climate change conference that takes place between the end-of-year Conference of the Parties (COPs) that are more publicly known.
The SBs build on the mandates from the previous COP (in this case, the decisions that emerged from COP27 in Sharm-El Sheikh in 2022) while laying the groundwork for the upcoming COP28 in the United Arab Emirates. The SBs draw in thousands of participants from around the world, including government representatives (“Parties”), UNFCCC secretariat staff like myself that host and participate in events, and non-Party Observers like civil society organizations, environmental groups, Indigenous organizations, and women and youth groups.
As per the mandated or required events outlined at COP27, diverse events and negotiations took place. These included panels, dialogues, and press conferences on the global stocktake (i.e., understanding our progress and barriers towards global climate action goals), establishing a global goal on adaptation, just transitions, climate loss and damage, mitigation, and more. As part of the Gender and Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) Teams, I supported events that promoted gender parity, youth climate action, and climate literacy. I attended the first week of the conference in-person and supported the second week remotely.
For the gender team, we hosted three mandated events: a dialogue with UN Women and other stakeholders about progress towards the UNFCCC Gender Action Plan; a dialogue between the Chairs of Constituted Bodies (basically working groups in the UN system) on progress in integrating a gender perspective into constituted body processes; and an expert meeting on gender-responsive budgeting and gendered climate finance. You can see the outcomes, presentations, and recordings from our events on the UNFCCC website.
The ACE team hosted a mandated dialogue on ACE progress and an “academy” with national focal points that act as liaisons between the UNFCCC and federal governments for implementing ACE domestically. We hosted a poster gallery where youth organizations showcased their work, an orientation session for youth to learn about the activities they could participate in, and a three-day youth hub with a hackathon methodology for skills building and networking. You can learn more about these events and their next steps on the ACE website.
With so many events occurring, often simultaneously, it was a VERY busy week with numerous highlights. In addition to the excitement of meeting my team in-person and taking in the views of our ninth-floor office over the Rhine River, it was enriching to meet committed changemakers. A few of those connections include the previous ACE intern who now negotiates with the Norway government, the Canadian ACE delegates, a federal government representative from Senegal, youth delegates from the COP28 Presidency, and impactful senior leaders in the UNFCCC. Greta Thunberg was also in attendance! I am grateful to BSIA for funding this priceless experience.
I am now back home in Waterloo. While the conference may be over, the team is already busy preparing for Regional Climate Weeks that commence in August, as well as COP28 in November and smaller-scale events like a webinar series we are co-hosting with UNESCO.
My next and final blog post will be written as I wrap up my internship. By that point I hope to reflect on the key things I have learned throughout this experience and how it will shape my trajectory as a young climate leader moving forward. In the meantime, if you are interested in gender and our ACE and climate change, I encourage you to join our Gender and ACE LinkedIn groups! You can network with like-minded climate leaders from all around the world. Likewise, sign up for our newsletters to stay up-to-date on progress made towards our key international climate agreements, gender equality, and community action on climate change.