THE U.N Framework convention on climate change UNFCCC





Some background information on the COP for the UNFCCC:

  • The COP stands for the “Conference of the Parties.” It is the supreme decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), opened for signature in 1992 during the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and later entered into force in 1994. Through this instrument, the United Nations has equipped itself with an action framework to fight global warming. After its entry into force in 1994, the UNFCCC Secretariat was established in Geneva. It was then relocated to Bonn in 1995 following the “First Conference of the Parties” (COP1) in Berlin.
  • The COP was created and put in place in order to structure the efforts of the Parties to the Convention as they address climate change. The COP meets annually to review and assess the implementation of the UNFCCC and any other legal instruments the body adopts with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fighting climate change. These annual UN climate change conferences are commonly referred to as COP.
  • Since 1995 there have been twenty-two COPs, with the most recent one organized in Marrakesh from 7-18 November 2016.
    COP23 will be presided over by Fiji and held in Bonn, Germany 6-17 November 2017.
    COP24 will take place in Poland in 2018.

Climate change is a multidimensional issue. At the center of the climate change discussion is water.

The dramatic increase in the Earth’s temperature in recent years due to global warming has shifted and disrupted the planet’s natural hydrological cycle and put our ecosystems under increasing stress. The consequences of these changes are affecting life across the globe; on the most basic level, in the form of extreme weather patterns and their effects - colder winters, more intense floods and dramatic hurricanes, superstorms; severe drought, wildfires and longer and drier summers, melting glaciers and rising sea levels worldwide. These changes will continue to affect our lives if the global community does not have an integrated and unified response.

As a consequence of our changing climate, 2016 was confirmed as the third consecutive hottest year since weather record-keeping began in 1880. In July 2016, according to NASA, the world’s surface reached the hottest it has ever been - in other words, that it the Earth’s surface temperatures were most probably the warmest since the last interglacial period 125,000 years ago. For example, temperatures in Kuwait reached 54 °C on 21st July, which is the highest temperature recorded, apart form California’s Death Valley. Overall, 2016 surpassed the previous year's record bu 0.2°C, and the average global surface temperature approximately 1.3°C above pre-industrial times.

The stated aim of the Paris Climate Agreement at the COP21 in December of 2015 was to keep warming under 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and endeavor to limit it to the more ambitious 1.5 °C.

It is predicted that these current records will be surpassed again and again, as we are on course to pass the limit that we are meant to avoid – 1.5 °C above average pre-industrial temperature – by 2024, give or take a few years.

In addition to this, water experts agree that even if our dependence on fossil fuels is reduced and greenhouse gas emissions are reversed, if we prolong our continued abuse of our planet’s fresh water and its water systems, we will not be able to stop climate change. Thus, in order to tackle the greatest challenge of our age, climate change, we must also appreciate the need to address the world’s multiple water crises from every relative angle - not only the environmental - and consider the larger perspective of corporate, economic, political pressures that are still driving our water governance.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Agreement adopted by world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly on 25 - 27 September 2015 was a powerfully significant and collective action - on poverty, injustice, gender equality, health, global development and environmental sustainability. Each goal agreed upon at the Sustainable Development Summit has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years.

“The global goals provide a unique opportunity to end poverty, reduce inequality, build peaceful societies and fix climate change. All nations and all citizens have a role to play to achieve these global goals. We hope that the message of the goals will reach everyone on the planet..” - U.N. Sec. General Ban Ki-Moon, referring to this universal sustainable development campaign.

Within this vision of ensuring a healthy planet for future generations were pledges on water-related issues:

CLEAN WATER AND SANITATION (Goal #6): “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”

DECISIVE CLIMATE ACTION (Goal #13): “Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts”

LIFE BELOW WATER (Goal #14): “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”

The Paris UN Climate Change Conference COP21 of 30 November - 11 December 2015 was hailed as an agreement that would set the standards of future global political cooperation, agreement and action on impactful climate solutions. It was also regarded as the most important international decision and focused political document on global climate governance in more than 20 years with the aim of preventing major and irreversible damage to our planet’s human and natural systems.

On the final day of this Paris Summit, world leaders from around the world signed a global climate Agreement, a legally-binding treaty for all signatories. President of the Cop21, Laurent Fabius called the agreement a “turning point..and a universal action of peace by 196 countries” in the global process to save the planet. The Agreement however, must also be ratified nationally, and will not become binding to its member states until 55 parties who produce over 55% of the world's greenhouse gas have sanctioned it.

Although the Paris Accord was seen by many as insufficient to halt global warming, falling far too short of what was hoped for, including a lack of mechanism to ensure that countries enforce the measures, it has been established that it is a good start when compared to the past attempts. With this action, governments, businesses, experts, advocates, civil society and citizens worldwide did finally officially recognize the universal nature of climate change, marking a pivotal moment in modern environmental history, and a significant shift in global perception on climate progress.

"WATER DAY" at the COP21: During the Paris Summit, the World Water Council and over a dozen members of the international water community came together in a collective effort represented by the #ClimateIsWater initiative, with the shared objective of elevating the recognition for water and climate at the political level, and in the climate change discussions from one COP to the next. The need to place water issues at the heart of climate discussions was stressed, as the reality is that water does not adequately or explicitly appear in the official agenda - although all impacts of climate change are manifested through water.  In 2016 the World Water Council plans to build on the momentum of the #ClimateisWater campaign, including at the COP22 scheduled to take place in Marrakesh in November 2016.

“It is through water that we can measure both the severity and the acceleration of global warming; however, we can also see that, through water, solutions can be found.” - Ségolène Royal, France’s energy and environment minister at the COP21 'Climate is Water' event. 

Nonetheless, water-related issues did appear in the Paris agreement through the following elements:

In reference to the post-2015 Sustainable Development Framework, in which water is a specific objective in Global Goal #6.
In reference to human rights in the preamble; that the right to water and sanitation was recognized as a fundamental right in 2010.
Through the importance given to adaptation and its financing, in which water is a central issue.
Through the emphasis on the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, in which water is the first priority for adaptation.

U.N. Resolution on Human Rights to Water and Sanitation: On 17 December 2015, the United Nations General Assembly passed and adopted a Resolution on the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation, recalling the 28 July 2010 resolution, which recognized the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights. With this renewed measure, the U.N. recognizes the distinction between the human right to water and that of sanitation; the two issues remain related and both are derived from the right to an adequate standard of living. The text was adopted by consensus, so all UN Member State have now agreed the following:

That everyone is entitled “to have access to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic use”.
That everyone is entitled “to have physical and affordable access to sanitation, in all spheres of life, that is safe, hygienic, secure, and socially and culturally acceptable and that provides privacy and ensures dignity”.

These United Nations SDG and COP21 Agreements of 2015 will together potentially begin shaping global efforts to address some of the world’s most pressing future challenges, reconcile the economic and environmental goals of the global community, and hopefully inspire future decisive and meaningful action for people and the planet - to safeguard the integrity of our vital ecosystems for a liveable climate, for clean air and for pure water.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
Update 22 April 2016:
The first step of the Paris Agreement had been its backing by 196 countries on Dec. 12, 2015.
The second step was a signing ceremony at the UN headquarters that took place on 22 April, 2016 International Earth Day, where more than 155 countries committed to sign the Paris Agreement; the period for signatures remains open for one year, so that all parties can sign, in order to validate the Paris Agreement.
In the third and final step, each nation must unilaterally ratify the agreement, which in many cases, will involve passage by national legislatures.

Update August 2016:
Since the Paris agreement opened for signatures in April, only 24 of the 197 nations have ratified it (accounting for 1.08% of global emissions).
When the 71st U.N. General Assembly that opens on Sept. 21, there will be a special meeting to encourage the signatory nations to complete the domestic legislation necessary to formally ratify the agreement. If the required 55 countries (which account for 55% of global emissions) approve the deal by 7th Oct., it will go into effect before the next global meeting in Marrakech, for the COP22.

This 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties, and the 12th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 12) will be held in Bab Ighli, Marrakech, Morocco from 7-18th November 2016.

Update 3 September 2016:
At the G20 Leaders Summit in G20 in Hangzhou, China,
the world’s two largest greenhouse gas emitters, China and the United States officially ratified the climate agreement reached last April. With this gesture, the two countries move the Paris Agreement a major step toward taking effect this year. These actions now bring the number of countries that have ratified the agreement to 26. With the addition of the U.S. and China, this accounts now for nearly 40% of global emissions - about three-fourths of the required total, bringing momentum for the UN General Assembly planned for 21st September.

Update 5 October 2016:
At the European Parliament session on the Paris agreement - also attended by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon - the European Union’s ratification bumped up national participation to the necessary threshold needed to put the climate deal into effect. By the next day, a total 73 countries including Canada, India and Nepal had ratified the agreement -  countries that account for nearly 57% of the world's carbon emissions. The climate deal will enter into force in the following 30 days - 4 November 2016 - less than a year after it was first reached, making now an official agreement, and a major improvement over its predecessor, the Kyoto Protocol.

Update 18 November 2016:
During the Marrakesh conference, 11 more governments ratified the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement – Australia, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Finland, Gambia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan and the UK; the total needed for the agreement to become law was 55 nations representing 55% of global emissions. By the conclusion on COP22 which was attended by over 200 negotiators, 111 nations had joined the Agreement. Although the Paris Agreement was a complete document that proposed the goals and framework for international climate action, it was decided that two sessions of 2017, that will be held in Bonn, will to serve to refine and define the Agreement and create a blueprint or 'rulebook', until the next major meeting of talks in 2018.

Update 1 June 2017:
This landmark Paris climate deal to cut global carbon emissions lost one of the world’s biggest polluters, the U.S., after its President Donald Trump decided that the country will no longer participate in the agreement. While the decision means the United States will cease actions to meet its commitments under the agreement, fully withdrawing from the accord will actually take close to four years.

Update 18 May 2017:
Fijian Prime Minister and incoming President of COP 23, Frank Bainimarama addressed delegates in Bonn and presented Fiji’s vision is for the upcoming COP and anticipated advances to the Paris Agreement, such as accelerating climate action for all vulnerable societies. Offering the perspective of a Pacific Islander, he addressed the vulnerability of Small Island Developing States, and other low lying nations and states or threatened cities in the developed world like Miami, New York, Venice or Rotterdam. For all global citizens, whether it is the rising seas, extreme weather events or changes to agriculture, threats to our way of life, no one will escape the impact of climate change.

Update 17 November 2017:
As was the case at the Marrakesh COP22, the negotiations of the Bonn COP23 centered around attempts to make significant progress on developing technical rules and processes needed to fulfill the 2015 Paris Agreement’s ambition, with countries negotiating the finer details of how the agreement will work from 2020 onwards. Other key highlights in Bonn included the announced withdrawal of the USA under the presidency of Donald Trump, and Syria's commitment that it would sign the Paris Agreement, leaving the USA as the only country in the world that does not intend to honor the landmark deal. Also, 19 countries committed to the phasing out of coal use. The primary outcomes of this UN session was to set a deadline for the drafting of implementation guidelines for next year’s COP in Poland, set to be held in December 2018.

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People's climate march - 29 November 2015

JOIN THE MOVEMENT: On 29 November, hours before world leaders meet at the Paris Climate Summit, Global Climate Change marches took place in over 2000 cities around the world to ask political leaders to make a bold commitment to action to solve the planet’s climate change crisis. People around the world joined the Marches to set out their demands on climate justice. These public events marked the start of two weeks of actions that had been planned to take place over the duration of the summit, to build global mobilization and a united effort by individuals everywhere who striving for a future that benefits people and planet alike. The Climate March events culminated in a mass demonstration in Paris on 12 December.


The Cyprus People’s Climate March was organized by the environmental NGO Friends of the Earth Cyprus, a member group of
Friends of the Earth Europe and Friends of the Earth International.

ACTIVATE’s continuing water initiative shares the desire to inform the world of the water crisis within its larger context and to contribute to the ongoing collective momentum to push potentially world-saving policies into meaningful action, for the future that we all deserve.

We inhabit a water planet, and maintaining everything from our seas and oceans, to clean water and proper sanitation is necessary for the basic building blocks of a healthy life. In recent years civil society groups, concerned citizens, scientists and socially-engaged artists have come to champion the worlds water crisis by supporting climate change and environmental actions, and becoming part of a broader movement for change around the many water issues of our time.

At this acutely critical moment for the environment, all of our waters, vital for existence, must be preserved and safeguarded against our continued abuse of our planet’s fresh water and its water systems. It has become urgent to address the entire water cycle: access, quality, efficiency, the just management of water resources and related ecosystems, in order to ensure that all of our planet’s natural life continues to thrive despite the
realities of:

pollution, privatization, profiteering and politics.

By contributing this message in solidarity with the goals of the COP for theUNFCCC and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals pertaining to water as one of the critical targets of its proposed universal agenda, we reaffirm its aim of ‘stimulating future action in areas of critical importance for the humanity and the planet’ and to ‘support the well-being of present and future generations’. By doing so we we might help to publicly, and aesthetically begin to reclaim water in its simplest form:

as a basic human right.

Anyone can play an active role regarding these issues, and only our actions as an aggregate can make a difference in achieving these goals.
Water is a resource that belongs to everyone. So first and foremost, protect the water resources in your own neighborhood.