The UNFCCC Virtual Regional Workshops on Gender and Climate Change 2020
By Mariama Williams
In the last week of November 2020, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)’s Gender and Climate Team presented its hallmark Global Gender Event as part of the virtual United Nations (UN) Climate Dialogues 2020 (Climate Dialogues). The Climate Dialogues provided “a platform for Parties and other stakeholders to showcase progress made in 2020 and exchange views and ideas across the subsidiary bodies and COP agendas mandated for 2020”. They were held in lieu of the annual meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) previously slated to take place in the United Kingdom in December 2020. The virtual Global Gender Event held on November 26, 2020 occurred in two parts. Part 1, Acting on the gender and climate GAP: progress and reflections highlighted progress and reflections made at the regional workshops on gender and climate change held by the Gender team earlier in the year. Part 2, Women for Results: showcasing women’s leadership on climate change showcased women’s leadership on climate change including the five winning projects of the 2020 UN Global Climate Action Awards.
This Semester Report summarizes the activities undertaken by the South Centre during the period 1st July to 31 December 2020. It is intended to provide information, organized by themes, about recent developments in the areas covered by the Centre’s Work Program, meetings organized or co-organized by the Centre to examine particular issues or provide analytical support for negotiations taking place in various international fora, and conferences and other meetings where the Centre has participated. It also informs about publications made.
Webinar Series: Powering Africa after Covid-19: Options for Energy
Webinar 1: Carbon Trading: Panacea or Placebo for Africa’s Energy and Climate Policies?
Building on the first webinar series that took place in July 2020, this next series will focus on identifying the various energy and development options that are present for African policymakers, drawing on the policy
and technical expertise of African and international experts and policymakers.
The first webinar “Carbon Trading: Panacea or Placebo for Africa’s Energy and Climate Policies?” will investigate various perspectives about the potential use of carbon pricing and carbon trading mechanisms in Africa as part of its energy, climate and development policy mix. Experts from Africa and around the world will be invited to look into the challenges and opportunities that carbon pricing and carbon trading policies may have for Africa, drawing on previous experiences with respect to REDD+, the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism, and other experiences, and on on-going policy discussions with respect to Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. Invited speakers for this webinar will be from the African Development Bank, African climate change policy implementors and civil society, and European and Chinese experts in their respective carbon trading regimes.
South Centre Semester Report, 1 January to 30 June 2020
This Semester Report summarizes the activities undertaken by the South Centre during the period 1st January to 30 June 2020. It is intended to provide information, organized by themes, about recent developments in the areas covered by the Centre’s Work Program, meetings organized or co-organized by the Centre to examine particular issues or provide analytical support for negotiations taking place in various international fora, and conferences and other meetings where the Centre has participated. It also informs about publications made.
Coronavirus pandemic: the vaccine as exit strategy
A GLOBAL HURDLE RACE AGAINST TIME WITH A SPLIT JURY
By Francisco Colman Sercovich
Sars-CoV-2, a novel pathogen, submits a stern warning, a clarion call, on the huge human costs of shortsightedness, inaction and lessons lost in the face of common predicaments at the global level. Yet, a number of key actors remain oblivious, including ethically-challenged politicians seeking to elbow their way to the front of the queue at the expense of the poorest and most vulnerable nations and communities. Contrary to expectations being formed, a safe and effective vaccine for the Covid-19 strain once, if ever, attained, is the best way out but unlikely to do as a silver bullet in the midst of the complexities and unknowns at play.
As a result of the harmful impact of the pandemic and ensuing policy aftermath, the world runs the risk of squandering the gains barely made in the fight against poverty over the last few decades – a looming scenario of egregious global governance failure, in view of the eight close calls recently received (three flu epidemics or near-flu epidemics, two Sars episodes, one Mers episode, Zika & Ebola). A promptly and universally distributed vaccine promises to prevent future disease outbreaks. However, many scientific, economic and distributional hurdles stand in the way. Whilst each day counts, the survival of hundreds of millions of lives hangs in the balance as health issues and those pertaining to livelihoods, nutrition, schooling and deprivation are so closely interdependent. Can we rule out the need to resort to internationally sanctioned legal remedies as an inescapable response?
Pathways for leapfrogging to reconcile development and climate change imperatives in Africa
By Smail Khennas and Youba Sokona
A just energy transition toward low carbon emissions pathways is increasingly a priority not only to cope with the adverse impacts of climate change but also for achieving more sustainable economic and social development of the African continent. Fortunately, to optimize its energy mix for development according to sustainability criteria, Africa can take advantage of a rapid energy transition, thanks to its huge and largely untapped renewable energy potential and its abundance of a less polluting fossil fuel, namely, natural gas. Moreover, the fact that most of the infrastructure for energy systems in Africa is not yet built, particularly in sub-Saharan countries, offers these countries a good opportunity for leapfrogging. This Policy Brief explores guiding principles and pathways for a low carbon energy transition, including leapfrogging opportunities, energy system design and social innovation.
Webinar Series: Energy for sustainable development in Africa in the post-COVID19 world – looking for the New Normal
Webinar 2: Sustainable Energy for Africa: transition through growth. How to boost output, improve access and reduce impact on the nature and society? Technologies, scenarios, strategies, sources of finance and business models.
Africa, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, has generally low levels of socio-economic development and energy usage. The COVID-19 outbreak and its consequent economic downturn present additional challenges and pose questions requiring urgent answers. Success of the pandemic measures depend upon, among other elements, on a strategic vision reflecting current situation and future uncertainties; and aligning interests of all stakeholders. In order to build such strategic vision, we have invited leading experts in our webinars to facilitate information gathering and to generate ideas for further work on strategies development and stakeholders’ engagement necessary for the continent’s energy transition in the post-COVID-19 world.
COVID-19 Economy vs. Human Rights: A Misleading Dichotomy
By Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky
While COVID-19 is a threat to the rights to life and health, the human rights impact of the crisis goes well beyond medical and public health concerns. The health crisis itself and a number of state measures to contain it-—mainly isolation and quarantine-—are leading the world into an economic recession. States and others need to take preventive and mitigating measures urgently to contain the pandemic and these must entail global cooperation and coordination. Just as the health crisis response must be rooted in human rights law, so too must national and international responses to the drastic economic downturn.
Will post COVID-19 pandemic lead to a climate compatible, more just, resilient and sustainable society?
By Youba Sokona
As a result of the economic shutdown and physical lockdown triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, greenhouse gas emissions, in particular CO2, have decreased and air pollution levels have seriously dropped. However, the temporary reduction of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the pandemic is not to be celebrated as it is not a result of deliberate climate and sustainable development policy. People who are the most vulnerable, most marginalized, and least empowered are the hardest hit by both COVID-19 and climate change. Both crises require robust scientific, evidence-based, accurate information in order to inform adequate policies and actions. They are global in nature and as such need global participation at all levels as well as strong international cooperation and transparency for their resolution.