The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Egypt concluded on Sunday November 20 after extended negotiations. The most significant outcome of the summit was the long overdue agreement for a Loss and Damage fund. After thirty years, the fund will provide much needed support to those on the front line of the climate crisis already suffering its impacts. While keeping global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels was reconfirmed as the global goal, the final text did not provide for any phase out of fossil fuels ever increasing the risk of breaching the 1.5C threshold. Nathalia Lawen from the Seychelles, who joined Peace Boat’s Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassador Programme in 2019 and is studying Climate Change and Economics at Aberwystwyth University in Wales, was part of Peace Boat’s delegation to COP27. In an interview by BBC Wales at the summit, Nathalia said she was pleased that Loss and Damage had made it onto the agenda. “I really appreciate that we’re having this conversation as I think countries really need to listen to us because the playing field is not level and we should acknowledge that,” she stated.  

“Youth as Key Leaders Transforming Climate Promises into Inclusive Action”

Building on the work with youth from Large Ocean States in our Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassador Programme, Peace Boat organized several events inside the UNFCCC administered Blue Zone focused on youth engagement.  “Youth as Key Leaders Transforming Climate Promises into Inclusive Action”, a UNFCCC side event on November 9 co-organized by Peace Boat with Future Leaders Network which coordinates the Youth Negotiators Academy and Care About Climate, focused on the role of youth in climate action and decision making processes. The youth panel included Julieta Marino Tartaglino and Ruth Hollands of youth-led organization, Care About Climate, Heeta Lakhani, co-founder of the Youth Negotiators Academy which delivers training for youth to participate in negotiations to create a diverse pipeline of effective young negotiators and Christian Fernandez Davia, a youth negotiator from Peru. Jevanic Henry from St Lucia who participated in the Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassador Programme in 2019 with Nathalia and was attending COP27 with the Commonwealth Secretariat asked how easy was it for young people to be part of a COP. “Compared to how it was before the Paris Agreement we have made progress”, he said, “but the climate change space is so dynamic it is important that we remain actively involved in moving the needle in the right direction to make sure that we continue to actively participate”. 

The youth panel at “Youth as Key Leaders Transforming Climate Promises into Inclusive Action”

“Connecting Large Ocean States for Climate Action and Youth Empowerment”

Peace Boat’s event at the Moana Blue Pacific Pavilion on November 11, “Connecting Large Ocean States for Climate Action and Youth Empowerment” was co-organized with Alliance for Future Generations – Fiji and the Sustainable Ocean Alliance with the support of the Permanent Mission of Palau to the United Nations.  Nathalia Lawen spoke about the value of meeting youth from other large ocean states including in the Pacific onboard Peace Boat, and how it was interesting to see the similarities and differences in culture as well as the impacts of the climate crisis. Dylan Kava representing the Pacific Islands Climate Action Network (PICAN) spoke also about his work with the Pacific Climate Warriors/ and with the ‘Uto ni Yalo‘, a Fijian canoe which sails to advance sustainable sea transportation by rejuvenating traditional boat building, navigation and voyaging, connecting. Liam Koka’ua,  Trustee of the Blue Cradle Foundation, Filmmaker and Representative of Sustainable Ocean Alliance Pacific Hub based in Aotearoa spoke about the shared heritage of the Pacific Islands and the value of places like the Moana Blue Pacific Pavilion for island youth at COP. Davila Talemaimaleya representing Alliance for Future Generations- Fiji said it was only through the power of local networks that policies on climate action could actually be implemented. Peace Boat Founder and Director, Yoshioka Tatsuya closed the event sharing his reflections on a poem by Ocean and Climate Youth Ambassador Selina Leem from the Marshall Islands on the dual catastrophes for the Pacific of the climate crisis and nuclear legacy. 

Speakers at the Moana Blue Pacific Pavilion

Peace Boat hosted a session at the UNFCCC Capacity Buliding Hub together with OceanHub Africa and the Youth Negotiators Academy on November 14. Co-moderated by Emilie McGlone of Peace Boat US and Pravallikha Samuthirarajan, the session focused on the importance of storytelling. Herland Cerveaux from OceanHub Africa spoke about Captain Fanplastic, a social enterprise which leverages storytelling in schools to encourage children to act against plastic pollution. Initiated in South Africa it has recently scaled in several large ocean states across Africa (Cape Verde, Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Sao Tome and Principe) and Maldives. Liam Koka’ua focused on the power of film to amplify indigenous voices sharing the trailer for his documentary Moana Irakau which highlights the impacts of seabed mining. Sivendra Michael from Fiji who shared a poem from his 8 year old daughter about protecting the Moana (ocean) spoke about the Kioa Climate Emergency Declaration which draws on real life experiences of people in the Pacific, and the importance of bringing these stories to the UNFCCC Processes including in the negotiating rooms by referring to the declaration in the negotiations.

Herland Cerveaux from OceanHub Africa on Storytelling and Large Ocean States at the UNFCCC Capacity Building Hub

The Ocean Pavilion

Yoshioka Tatsuya was a panelist together with Nathalia Lawen in “Leveraging the Ocean Decade to Build the Next Generation of Ocean Professionals” organized in partnership with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the Ocean Policy Research Institute (OPRI) of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation at the first Ocean Pavilion at a COP on November 10.  Peace Boat’s Ecoship was also featured at the Ocean Pavilion in an event “Integrating Ocean Policy and Ocean Science to Accelerate Ocean-Based Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation” organized by OPRI on November 8 as well as in Peace Boat’s own event in the Virtual Ocean Pavilion on the decarbonization of the Maritime Sector on November 16, at the SDG Pavilion and in a keynote speech on sustainable tourism at the Ocean and Climate Summit organized by Oceanic Global on November 11. 

The first Ocean Pavilion at a UN Climate Change conference highlighted the connections between ocean and climate

The outcomes of COP27 have received a mixed reaction from civil society and negotiators alike. The Loss and Damage fund is a victory for negotiators from the most vulnerable countries and campaigners who have repeatedly called for climate justice. The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) statement said “We have shown those who have felt neglected that we hear you, we see you, and we are giving you the respect and care you deserve. Now we must solidify our ties across territories. We must work even harder to hold firm to the 1.5C warming limit, to operationalize the loss and damage fund, and continue to create a world that is safe, fair, and equitable for all”. Climate Action Network-International (CAN) is the world’s largest environmental network of over 1,800 non-governmental organisations in over 130 countries fighting the climate crisis.  Peace Boat is a member of CAN-Japan.  Executive Director of CAN, Tasneem Essop said  “This decision, taken on African soil brings hope for vulnerable impacted peoples and communities not just in the continent, but for the entire Global South. While COP27 begins to address the consequences of the climate crisis, it failed to commit to phasing out fossil fuels, which are at the root of the climate crisis”.