IFMSA @ COP22: Last Days

Here we are at the end of COP22, reflecting back at all that has transpired and looking forward on what is yet to come. During the last few days of COP we made good use of all the contacts we have gained to put the health message out there, and IFMSA did a webinar, an interview and a press conference.

For the second year in a row, IFMSA was invited by La Ruta del Clima, a Peruvian NGO, to conduct a webinar in Spanish about climate and health. The webinar took place on Wednesday evening. Here, Skander did the webinar where he got to practice his Spanish and talk about the reason IFMSA is prioritizing climate and health, and our work during this COP.

On Thursday, Line was interviewed by Swiss Youth for Climate. They have made several small interviews focusing on different aspects of Climate Change, and we are happy to see that more and more organizations now recognize health as one of the major topics to be dealt with at COP. Line both gave examples on the link between climate change and health, talked about health in the Paris Agreement, as well as updated on the work of IFMSA. The short interview can be seen on Swiss Youth for Climates Facebook page here.

Viktor from Swiss Youth for Climate interviewing Line about the links between climate change and health, and what the role of IFMSA at COP is.
Viktor from Swiss Youth for Climate interviewing Line about the links between climate change and health, and what the role of IFMSA at COP is.

Press Conference: Children’s Rights and Climate Change
November 17 was commemorated as Climate Justice Day, and keeping with this, a Press Conference was organized by collaborative efforts of the YOUNGO working groups on Health and Human Rights. Aruna represented IFMSA and spoke about the issue of Children’s right to Health, seeing the momentum of tackling this issue in adapting to the impacts of climate change at different levels. Intergenerational equity does not receive adequate attention in the negotiations concerning the Paris Agreement, and the Press Conference was one step in addressing that.
Aruna represented IFMSA and introduced the connection between health and climate change, highlighting why children are regarded to a be a particularly vulnerable group and at greater health risks. Subsequently, she highlighted the adverse impacts of climate change on children and gave the 3 concrete calls that are imperative to adapt to these adverse impacts. These include increased intersectoral collaboration, health guidelines to be formulated by present and future health professionals and the placement of health at the center of National Adaptation Plans.

You can watch the press conference here, and learn more about Children’s health, rights and climate change.

From left to right: Max Forshaw (Moderator; member of UKYCC), Aruna Muthumanickam (IFMSA), Dr. Rhys Jones (University of Auckland), Jay Ralitera (CliMates), Mr. Benjamin Schachter (Office of High Commission of Human Rights).
From left to right: Max Forshaw (Moderator; member of UKYCC), Aruna Muthumanickam (IFMSA), Dr. Rhys Jones (University of Auckland), Jay Ralitera (CliMates), Mr. Benjamin Schachter (Office of High Commission of Human Rights).

Morocco optimistically named COP22 The COP of action – not unexpectedly, this turned out to be an overstatement. To say it lightly, the parties didn’t make much progress in implementing the Paris Agreement, but the momentum remains somewhat intact, and after the recent U.S. election many countries, most noteworthy China, came out and said that no matter the influence the U.S. election will have on U.S. climate policy and participation in the UNFCCC, they will remain committed to the Paris Agreement. 11 countries ratified the Paris Agreement during the meeting, bringing the total number at the end of COP22 up to 111.

The COP22 saw the birth of a new document, entitled the Marrakech Action Proclamation. Many countries expressed discontent at the procedure with which the document came to be; it is largely made by the Moroccan Presidency with little to no input from countries. However, the parties did end up agreeing on it in the end. This one-page document reaffirms the commitment of parties to the Paris Agreement and the $100 billion goal, calls for increased ambition, increased finance, increased cooperation, and also, in a colorful language, sums up what COP22 at Marrakech should mean to us with regard to Climate and Sustainable Development, but to our disappointment, there is still no mention of any liability with regards to the Paris Agreement, and overall the document is little more than pretty words. Read the whole document here.

Future work
Much of the actual work was postponed – it was decided to expand the APA (Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement), which will work mainly on the rulebook on how to implement the Paris Agreement, to also convene in May, where one of the other bodies of the UNFCCC – the Subsidiary Body for Implementation, SBI – will meet in Bonn, Germany. The future of the Adaptation Fund is also currently scheduled to be decided here; started under the umbrella of the Kyoto Protocol this is a separate thing from the $100 billion Green Climate Fund described in the Paris Agreement, often favored by recipients for its readiness to support small projects. Many parties, especially the small island states, pointed out that funding for adaptation cannot wait much longer, and it is thus a major concern that this topic is addressed adequately at the intersessional meeting in Bonn. Some of our delegates had a meeting with the SBI chair, who is very focused on participation of civil society, so we are hopeful with regards to meaningful participation at this coming meeting!

This also means that we will get very familiar with the layout of the World Conference Center in Bonn, as COP23, scheduled for November 6th-17th 2017, is also being held here. Fiji is the official presidency of the next COP, but it will be held in Bonn for practical reasons. We can look forward to a few years of cold COPs, as COP24 is already scheduled, and will be held in Poland in 2018.

2018 will be a particularly interesting COP-year; the Facilitative Dialogue and the first Global Stocktake, which was mandated by the Paris Agreement, will take place here. The facilitative dialogue will review progress towards the long-term goal to peak emissions and achieve net-zero emissions, and based on the outcome parties will either submit new mitigation contributions or update existing ones. The aforementioned rulebook is also to be ready by then, in order for it to be finalized and approved at COP24. Thus, it will probably mark the next big COP year, building anticipation for concrete action, much like we’ve seen (with varying end-results) from COP15 in Copenhagen and COP21 in Paris.

Final remarks
As previously, the IFMSA delegation have collaborated actively with other health professionals and stakeholders – namely the World Medical Associations (WMA) Junior Doctors Network (JDN), WHO, and the other member organizations of the Global Climate and Health Alliance (GCHA). We have had regular meetings to update each other on side events and news from the negotiations pertaining to health, and have strategized as well for the future. For every year the collaboration in the climate and health movement grows, and we have discussed meeting in the lead-up to COP23 to discuss and possibly align advocacy priorities – after all, together our voice is stronger!

All in all, we’ve had a tough, busy and immensely fun and interesting couple of weeks with IFMSA at COP, where we have profiled IFMSA as a strong actor on climate change and health, talked with negotiators, met with professionals from different backgrounds and learned a lot. We all return to post-COP22 reality with more knowledge, new opportunities for IFMSA, higher motivation – and a lot of new Facebook-friends.

(Oh, and P.S. – we never did find Leo. Guess he wasn’t there. We did go to an Akon concert, though – however, we are still missing the celeb-selfie. A mission for next years team)

Enquire now

Give us a call or fill in the form below and we will contact you. We endeavor to answer all inquiries within 24 hours on business days.