The Environment Council met on 4 October, to discuss the upcoming UN climate change conference COP25 in Madrid on 2 December, and adopt conclusions setting out the EU position for the conference, followed by a policy debate on the EU's strategic long-term vision for a climate neutral economy.
The recent UN Climate Action Summit helped bring the issue of climate change to political attention and public scrutiny. The Council stresses that it is now even more important both to work hard to make COP25 a success and deliver concrete results.
As the Environment Council convened in Luxembourg, the second session of Climate Diplomacy Weeks 2019 comes to an end, a global commitment during which the EU has been actively raising awareness on climate change in all corners of the world, and taking climate action in various forms, big or small, every little bit matters.
During Climate Diplomacy Weeks, EU Delegations and embassies of several EU Member States around the world hold various events to foster dialogue and cooperation on climate change, showcase success stories and inspire further action. Climate Diplomacy Weeks 2019 took place between 27 May - 9 June, and 24 September - 6 October, and most of this year’s activities centred around youth, the theme for 2019.
The beach clean actions, taking place also under the umbrella of the increasingly successful annual #EUBeachCleanUp campaign, hit a high of well over 80 participating countries this year, with hundreds of thousands of volunteers!
Besides the beach cleans, EU Delegations all over the world have been engaged in several different environmental activities, both inside and outside their offices. Cycling was quite the highlight for some Delegations, from cycling to work to citywide marathons. This, besides several discussions on climate change awareness, green workshops and environmental projects, competitions, exhibitions, film screenings and more, bringing together young people and local and international partners and civil society groups.
A look into some climate actions across the globe
Many cities throughout the United States and Europe have been pioneering innovative technologies and new solutions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and becoming “smart cities.” In the first session of Climate Diplomacy Weeks the EU in the US organised a half-day event on cities of the future emphasizing the role of US and European cities in delivering on the Paris Agreement.
Rwanda organised a Global Goals Jam (GGJ) 2019 on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), together with a local civil society organisation, the Green Fighter. The GGJ tackled SDGs 1, 4, 8, 10, 12, 13 and 17. The most critical local challenges discussed were water and climate change, migration, electronic waste, and sustainable development for people and the planet. The event aimed to create groups of people that will develop projects related to the aforementioned SDGs and their issues.
During a meeting with high school students and professors of UNAM National Preparatory School, the EU Delegation in Mexico held presentations on EU climate actions and the role of children and young adults in the climate movement. The Delegation also took part in a visibility event with a presentation of the EUROCLIMA+ projects in Mexico.
In BurundI, the Delegation organised a debate between young bloggers and special guests on climate change and environmental protection. They also held a climate-themed drawing competition for kids as young as six to 15-year-olds.
Meanwhile a disaster preparedness presentation related to climate change was held in Guyana.
Because the #EUBeachCleanUp campaign is not only about cleaning beaches the Delegation in Botswana, took part in cleaning the Gaborone dam together with the old Naledi community, Water Utilities Corporation and the Department of Sanitation and Pollution Control, also in the context of the Climate Diplomacy Weeks. Together with Botswana Climate Change Network, the Delegation will also participate in a Youth Climate Change Festival.
Furthermore, in Cambodia community outreach actions were organised to educate a small fishing community living on Tonle Sap River to not throw their plastic waste into the river as well as to help them collect it. The upcoming Green Weeks Clean-up Day, is expected to gather between 200 to 300 people cleaning the riverbank, the sidewalks and the place where the fishing community lives. And their activities are not over yet. Cambodia will also be taking part in a Plastic Conscious Campaign during a Water Festival in November.
In Indonesia, besides stimulating discussions on “Countering the Climate Crisis: Youth for Forest Conservation”, "Palm oil for the future," and on how smart cities can help tackle climate change, as well as a pratical workshop on how to process plastic into fuel, we have several examples of how awareness and action can also be achieved through games and fun, engaging kids at a young age. Several young people took part in activities like a student photo exhibition; a Climate Rangers Empowerment Program for kids; a cleanup day, "Green Games" with Danish Youth Ambassadors for the Environment; an EU-WikipediaID Writing Competition in support of Climate Action, and last but not least a cooking demo!
More fun in Mozambique as students of an Environmental Club performed in a theater play at a Primary School, and others drew paintings about environment and climate change. While Sierra Leone held an Arts Competition in 10 secondary schools on the theme of climate change and its negative impacts on our daily lives.
Papua New Guinea planned a "BILUM making" and movie competition in high schools. The "bilum" is a string bag made by hand in Papua New Guinea. This competition aimed to promote both culture and a no plastic bag policy.
Australia cycled their way through the first session, and in the second session they planned a site visit to a ‘bioreactor’ with a group of local 16-18 year-old students together with EU HoMs and diplomats. Also under Climate Diplomacy Weeks rubric, they planned to screen: “The Chocolate Case” a film about sustainable production and consumption.
In Kyrgyzstan an EcoFarm Festival took place with the EU support to promote the benefits of environmental protection, conscious consumption, organic rural agriculture and EU green policy.
Besides a ‘Green Ideas Contest’ among youth, Nicaragua organised a practical digital awareness campaign: ‘Together for Nicaragua in the protection of the environment,’ illustrating how making small adjustments in our everyday actions can contribute to the protection of the planet. Engaging the public by asking “And you, how do you adapt to climate change?”
Kazakhstan too supported Climate Diplomacy Weeks by posting videos about eco-conscious life examples. They also launched an Instagram contest for youth #GoGreen, on how to use eco-life principles in practice.
Following a photo exhibition about air pollution in Myanmar for the first session, the Delegation supported a public service announcement against plastic pollution starring a renowned Myanmar actress for the second session.
The EU Delegation to Costa Rica won the Bandera Azul Award: As an office they have been awarded with an ecological recognition for their efforts recycling and reducing their footprint.
In their offices in Senegal, the EU Delegation implemented a collection and recycling mechanism for used batteries and printer cartridges, in collaboration with a French/Senegalese start up in circular economy.
Also within their office the Delegation in Hong Kong makes every promotional material sustainable to help protect the environment; publications are made with sustainable ink and recycled paper; fans are made of bamboo; and bio pots from eco-friendly bamboo fibre. Every material must be useful and reusable. The office has hired a collecting point for the entire building to recycle plastic bottles and show support for environmental education.
Zambia introduced waste separation and a recycling programme in the Delegation offices, and also went outside the office to a community school in Lusaka, where they took to tree planting.
Timor Leste went to a small village near Dili, where they also participated in tree planting with 100 students. The planting site was a refugee camp 20 years ago. The EU is also financing the reforestation of Dare giving hope and job opportunities to the communities. With a contribution of 560.000 euro, the European Union aims to strengthen the capacity of the target communities of Dare to adopt climate-smart practices in mountain farming and improve food security for families by increasing and diversifying agricultural production.
The Democratic Repubic of Congo organized a Science week and tree planting with schools. In Ghana tree planting also took place at schools in Accra and Kumasi, as well as workshops and discussions on re-greening and reforestation.
Keeping in mind 'youth' as the main topic for this year's Climate Diplomacy Weeks, Kosovo's actvities consisted of screenings of climate change films, followed by discussions, competitions, as well as mural paintings, panel discussions, lectures and workshops, with active participation of schools at all levels of education, interactive educational activities, street performances and also planting trees.
And what better way to end the week than a stop at the pub for some climate action! The Delegation to Iceland's busy agenda started with a harbour clean-up, and went on to planting no less than 500 trees. Iceland signed up to planting trees every year, to both offset its office carbon emissions, and help with its major reforestation programme. They held a seminar on the role of young people in fighting climate change and how the business community can do more to contribute to this greatest challenge of our time. Their work was rewarded by winning a climate-themed pub quiz, organised to publicize the Reykjavik Climathon, also sponsored by the Delegation, which will bring young people together for 24 hours to discuss climate issues and take part in a competition to develop the best climate change-themed project.