COP28: Reflections and Ways Forward

COP28, the much-anticipated climate change conference, has ended. The expectations for this global conference were immense and due to the complexity of the problems and the multifaceted sectors it convenes, there have been substantial criticism in…


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Area of work:

COP28, the much-anticipated climate change conference, has ended. The expectations for this global conference were immense and due to the complexity of the problems and the multifaceted sectors it convenes, there has been substantial criticism in terms of the reach and scope of the outcomes. As important as the arguments are regarding the underdelivery of COP28 in several areas, we aim to cover only a piece of this jigsaw. We aim to reflect on the humanitarian sector’s involvement at this conference, the movement Start Network is committed to, and more importantly, on our steps toward a systemic shift to a more locally led and anticipatory approach to address the impacts of the climate crisis. 

Start Network’s engagement at COP28 reflected a coherent movement for change. Our members provided direction in the narrative, key messages, and policy asks of our campaign. Our COP28 engagement was further strengthened by our participation in the Regional Climate Weeks where our local and national members took part and advocated for change. We were also able to increase our reach by participating in sessions through our partners such as the Risk-Informed Early Action Partnership (REAP), Centre for Disaster Protection, OCHA, the Anticipation Hub, IFRC, Insurance Development Forum (IDF), African Risk Capacity (ARC), Howden, and UNU-EHS, so thank you to all of them as well as our members and donors.

Below is a summary of our engagement:

  • Start Network participated in 11 sessions, including leading a session in the first-ever Humanitarian Hub at COP and we participated as a speaker at the UN Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Early Warning For All initiative. Other sessions were on topics such as anticipatory and early action, pre-arranged financing, insurance, loss and damage, and locally led action.  
  • Start Network endorsed the REAP's "Getting Ahead of Disaster: A Charter on Finance for Managing Risks". The Charter aligns with Start Network’s own work, particularly our focus on providing timely, prepositioned funding to help humanitarian actors and affected communities be better prepared when disasters hit.
  • Minister of the State of the United Kingdom for Development and Africa, Minister Andrew Mitchell, announced new UK funding to boost climate resilience. This was further detailed in a press release which set out a disaster risk financing package and the funding of £7.1 million to Start Network.
  • The Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, announced ECHO’s support of €2 million for Start Ready during the high-level event on the adoption of the Risk-informed Early Action Partnership (REAP) Charter. 
  • Support towards Start Ready was also mentioned by Micheál Martin, Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence, Tánaiste, during a session 'Putting Principles into Practice', that explored locally led adaptation principles. You can find the recording here.
Panel discussion at COP28 with Start Network presentation

Some reflections:

Understanding the difficulties of bringing together diverse actors and multidisciplinary sectors each with their own contribution to the climate conversation, there is a long road ahead to break down silos and work in coordination for a common goal. The challenge that lies ahead is how we continue to bring together these different stakeholders, sometimes with conflicting priorities, for the betterment of people and the planet.

  1. We must listen to each other. COP brings together people from all over the world with varying expertise and lived experience, and COP28 marked the largest conference yet. The climate crisis is bigger than any one of us. We must listen to the stories and perspectives of others to fully understand the issue in its complexity and recognise the wealth of knowledge that we share collectively, in order to tangibly take climate action and address the impacts of the climate crisis.
  2. We must scale up financing to meet needs. COP28 began with the agreement to operationalise the Loss and Damage Fund and commitments to finance it. As humanitarian actors, we welcome these funding commitments to cover the needs of countries that have not contributed the most to the climate crisis but remain so deeply affected by it. It is crucial that this funding reaches affected and at-risk communities. It also needs to be paired with funding to build people’s resilience and equip local and national actors with systems and plans to reduce the impact of disasters, in order to avoid the bill for loss and damage escalating even further.  
  3. We must work collaboratively. Our engagement at COP left us with more questions than answers and an increased appetite for wanting to bridge the gap between humanitarian, development, peace, and climate sectors. These areas are integral to providing better service to the communities we aim to serve.

These are our initial reflections on COP28. We will continue to watch this space to see how the outcomes and commitments are turned into actions for a humanitarian system which is more proactive, locally led, and meets the needs of affected communities.

Read on...