International Order & Conflict

From UNGA to COP26 & Beyond: The Future of Climate Governance

The recent Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows that the world has little chance to achieve agreed climate change mitigation targets in our lifetimes given the continued degradation of the environment.

The climate action timelines of many nations are not ambitious enough and current global governance approaches remain weak, lack accountability mechanisms, and are fragmented and siloed. Against this backdrop, this UNGA side event will discuss what new approaches and governance innovations might the international community wish to consider, as a matter of priority for climate action? And what strategies can be considered to ensure that these innovations are implemented?

Welcome Remarks

Maria Fernanda Espinosa, President of the 73rd UN General Assembly and former Foreign and Defense Minister of Ecuador


Maja Groff, Convenor, Climate Governance Commission

Richard Ponzio, Senior Fellow and Director, Global Governance, Justice and Security Program at the Stimson Center, and Member of the Climate Governance Commission (presenting the Stimson Center’s report “Building Back Together & Greener: Twenty Initiatives for a Just, Healthy, and Sustainable Global Recovery”)

Jimena Leiva Roesch, Senior Fellow and Head of Peace and Sustainable Development at the International Peace Institute, and Member of the Climate Governance Commission

Dhabia Al-Mohannadi, Professor, Texas A&M University at Qatar

Katharine Rietig, Associate Professor in International Politics at Newcastle University, and Member of the Climate Governance Network

Michael Collins, Executive Director for the Americas at the Institute for Economics and Peace

Magnus Jiborn, Head of Research, Global Challenges Foundation, and Member of the Climate Governance Commission

Moderated by

Arunabha Ghosh, CEO at the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, Member of the Climate Governance Commission

Co-Sponsors: Climate Governance Commission⎯Global Challenges Foundation, the Stimson Center, Global Governance Forum, Global Governance Innovation Network, Group of Women Leaders for Change & Inclusion, CIVICUS, Doha Forum, Council on Energy, Environment and Water, Plataforma CIPÓ, Baha’i International Community, International Environment Forum, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung New York Office, We The Peoples Campaign, Together First, ACUNS, Common Home of Humanity, the Institute for Economics and Peace, Foundation for Global Governance and Sustainability (FOGGS), and the Coalition for the UN We Need.

The United Nations (UN) Secretary General has urged all nations to declare a state of climate emergency, and has also called the recent Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) ⎯which  reports  the  worsening  unprecedented,  unequivocal  and  irreversible  (for centuries  to millennia) effects caused by human-induced global heating ⎯ a “Code Red for Humanity.

Against the backdrop of the multi-faceted global pandemic recovery, among other global challenges, the gravity  and  urgency  of  the  planetary  climate  emergency  is  becoming  more  widely  understood,  and increasingly  acknowledged.  Science  is  showing  that  the  civilization-nurturing  climatic  conditions  of  our planet –stable for the past approximately 12,000years –are profoundly threatened, and serious changes are  happening  more  quickly  than  predicted.  For  example,  a  range  of  the  earth’s  known  biophysical systems  which  regulate  the  global  climate  are showing  signs  of  instability  earlier  than scientists  had predicted and may foreshadow the crossing of dangerous and mutually reinforcing tipping points. Such developments telegraph the seriousness of current conditions and the need for rapid action by national governments and the international community to stabilize and protect the earth’s climate system.

Unless  we  rapidly  and  radically  shift  course,  the  world  is  heading  for  catastrophic  climate  change  and possible  ecological  collapse.  Some  have called  our  present  predicament  a  survival  crisis  for  humanity –and certainly for human civilization and for populations as we currently know them –depending on the course of action we collectively choose. Paradoxically, even though solutions exist to mitigate the most devastating  effects  of  the  climate  crisis –including  global  governance  solutions –they  are  not  being implemented at a pace and scale commensurate with the magnitude and the urgency of the challenge.

Even with this sharpening scientific understanding, the vast majority of the world’s emitters are not yeton track to meet their pledges of emission cuts. It has been observed that the timelines of many nations are  not  ambitious  enough  (e.g.,  focusing  on  mid-Century  targets),  and  current  global  governance approaches  remain  weak,  lacking  in  accountability  mechanisms,  fragmented  and  siloed. What  new approaches  and  governance  innovations  might  the international  community  wish  to  consider,  as  a matter  of  priority?  And  what  strategies  can  be  considered  to  ensure  that  these  innovations  are implemented?

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