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Are Climate Summits a Waste of Time?

Originally published in Inter Press Service here.

The 27th annual UN climate summit is taking place in November. Will it be worth all the time and effort? Professor Felix Dodds and Chris Spence—who have attended many of them—share what they’ve learned.

Next month, the latest annual United Nations climate extravaganza, COP27, will take place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Last year it was in Glasgow. Next year it will be held in (drum roll please) … Dubai!

These big climate events have been around a long time. Since 1995, there has been a climate COP (short for “Conference of the Parties”) every year except 2020, when it was postponed due to the Covid pandemic. Over the years, the COP roadshow has traveled far and wide. From Berlin to Buenos Aires, Kyoto to Cancun, and Bali to Marrakesh, the COPs have criss-crossed the globe with the aim of finessing new agreements to see off the specter of climate change.

These annual summits generate a lot of interest. The most recent in Glasgow attracted tens of thousands of participants. World leaders and celebrities often jet in  and join the throng, while the global media reports every move in the corridors of power and concerned citizens protest outside. And yet the COPs are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to UN-sponsored climate meetings. If you add the several preparatory meetings in the lead-up to the COPs, plus a host of workshops and other events by various expert technical groups, you’re easily looking at several dozen gatherings every year.

Each event is supposed to help us move the needle on climate change, keeping our warming world within the 1.5o Celsius threshold beyond which we face potentially catastrophic consequences. But what, exactly, do all of these many meetings accomplish? Are they really worth all this time and effort?

The climate bandwagon: Roll up for the never-ending world tour!

There are plenty of arguments against letting the climate circus continue its endless circuit. For a start, science tells us that in spite of all the many meetings held, we’re still on a dangerous path. Groups like Carbon Action Tracker estimate that we’re currently on track for somewhere between 1.8-2.7 oC, with the lower number representing their most optimistic—and least likely—scenario. This is clearly well above where we need to be.

Another common complaint is that UN climate COPs are mostly just talking shops; in Greta Thunberg’s words, too much “blah, blah, blah” and not enough action. For all the millions, even billions, of words uttered at these events, theyn often end in acrimony with little of substance agreed. Surely, the money used to hold these summits could be better spent on something else?

Even when agreement is reached, say the critics, there is no guarantee governments and other stakeholders will keep their pledges. History is littered with broken promises and diplomatic treaties that aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.

These arguments are all credible and we don’t disagree with any of them. But here’s the thing. For all their weaknesses and flaws, these summits actually matter a lot.

Like a rolling stone

First, the United Nations climate process has definitely moved the needle when it comes to our response to climate change. When the UN climate treaty was first signed in 1992, it triggered a wave of national laws, policies, and regulations that have rippled out across every country on earth. This process has started to shift almost every aspect of our modern economic system away from 200 years of reliance on fossil fuels.

Take our global energy systems, for instance. From being a niche market in the 1990s that could not compete on cost with coal, oil and gas-generated electricity, in 2020 solar power became the cheapest source of electricity in history. The technology behind both solar and wind have moved on in leaps and bounds since the 1990s, thanks in large part to the flow-on effects of international lawmaking. The much-maligned Kyoto Protocol of 1997, now largely superseded by the 2015 Paris Agreement, brought the private sector firmly into the equation, launching carbon markets and spurring private sector investment that has begun to reshape our global economy away from its reliance on fossil fuels.

From electric vehicles to power generation to building design, the number of changes catalyzed by our international work on climate change are too many too list. Probably the best metric for judging the UN climate summits, however, is their impact on long-term global warming. In recent years, projections for the expected long-term warming have fallen from as much as 4-6C before the Paris Agreement was inked, to around 1.8-2.7C now, assuming we implement pledges made at UN summits. And while anything above 1.5C is still very, very bad and the need for more action remains urgent, it’s not as unimaginably catastrophic as those higher numbers would be.

The worst approach … except for all the others

That’s not to say the UN climate process can’t be improved. Some people would like to see them shrunk back to their size in the early days, when just a couple of thousand people—key negotiators and a smaller number of other stakeholders—met in person. This, they say, would render it more manageable, reduce the carbon footprint, and make it less of a “circus.”

There are arguments on both sides here. While on the one hand it is true that arguably only a few hundred diplomats could handle the haggling over the official UN documents under negotiation, it is worth noting the impact those other participants can have.

For a start, many new pledges and promises are emerging on the sidelines of the official negotiations; “coalitions of the willing” wishing to make progress in specific sectors like, say, green investment, electric vehicles, reducing methane emissions or halting deforestation. These alliances of governments, private companies and other stakeholders are able to make advances in specific sectors where the official UN negotiations—which require consensus among more than 190 governments—cannot. The groups involved in such coalitions choose to network, negotiate, and announce their plans during the COPs because of the public interest in these events.

Attend just one of these COPs and you will soon notice how many connections are made, partnerships are formed, and ideas generated, by participants not involved in the formal UN business of treatymaking. The benefits of these meetings and collaborations are hard to measure, but certainly considerable.  

UN negotiations can often feel glacial. With the scientific community—and the daily news of extreme weather events around the world—reminding us of the need for urgency, it can feel like the discussions are going far too slowly. Obviously, there is much more to be done in a short space of time given that we are still hurtling towards some pretty frightening outcomes without more progress. Still, the UN process has made a difference and started to move the needle, even if is not yet happening fast enough.

And what are the alternatives? No single country or private entity stands a chance of dealing with this threat alone. Neither Amazon nor Google can conjure up an online answer to this type of problem. The US or China can’t “go it alone” and no coalition of governments has been able to deliver what’s needed. It is clear, therefore, that a multilateral, global process involving all governments and stakeholders presents our only chance of containing such a global threat.

Winston Churchill once described democracy as the worst form of government except for all the others. The same applies to multilateralism and climate change. It is flawed, frustrating and at times agonizingly slow. But it is still without doubt our last best hope of success. 

Stepping up

So what needs to happen at COP27 in Egypt? Many are describing it as the “implementation COP” where we begin to turn pledges and well-laid plans into action. There will be pressure for countries to come with bolder measures to reduce their national emissions and for wealthier nations to bring more money to the table when it comes to supporting the developing world. In particular, more support for adaptation, as well as financial help dealing with the loss and damage already wrought by climate change, will need to be addressed promptly.


We will also need to see inspired leadership. In our new book, Heroes of Environmental Diplomacy, we argue that dedicated and committed individuals can make a significant difference at these events. Examples from the recent past, such as the dedication of a handful of scientists and diplomats who helped create the Montreal Protocol and save the ozone layer, show that we can all play our part in turning the tide. More recently Christiana Figueres, the former head of the UN climate office and one of the architects of the Paris Agreement, is an example of the type of leadership that will be required at the next COP. Figueres is an advocate of “stubborn optimism” and the need to blend urgency with action. We agree. Persistence, combined with a belief that there is still time to make a difference, should be our guiding light during this critical time. 

Currently, the UK as hosts of COP26 still hold the climate presidency, which they will hand over officially to Egypt at the start of COP27 in November. Glasgow exceeded many insiders’ expectations, with Alok Sharma delivering a poised performance in spite of the UK’s recent domestic political turmoil. How will the incoming Egyptian presidency step up to the challenge? And how too will the new UN climate chief, Simon Stiell, approach this major meeting?

As we look to COP27 and beyond, we wonder who the heroes of tomorrow might be? With time running out, we need environmental champions now more than ever.

Prof. Felix Dodds and Chris Spence have participated in UN environmental negotiations since the 1990s. They co-edited Heroes of Environmental Diplomacy: Profiles in Courage (Routledge, 2022).

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What Must COP27 Deliver?

With less than two months remaining before the next climate summit—COP27—begins in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, Felix Dodds and Chris Spence assess what needs to happen for it to be judged a success. Published originally on Inter Press Service here

Preparations for COP27 in November are proceeding apace and we are now well past the halfway mark between the preparatory meetings in June in Bonn and the start of the summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. The agenda for Sharm El-Sheikh is complex and challenging. Furthermore, the meeting is taking place during a time of international turmoil. So, what are the factors influencing whether Sharm El-Sheikh can be a success? And what, exactly, does COP27 need to deliver?

Reasons for Optimism

Those looking for positive signs can name several. For a start, the recent passing of the Inflation Reduction Act in the US dedicated some $369 billion for climate and energy action—the largest investment in US history for tackling climate change. This will give the market more confidence to invest in green technology, whether it is solar, wind, microgrids, carbon capture and hydrogen, to name a few. It also shows commitment from the world’s largest economy and second largest polluter.

Second, the major weather events of recent months—from heatwaves across Africa, Asia and Europe to the catastrophic floods in Pakistan of the past few days—are a tragic reminder, if any were still needed, of the urgency of the climate crisis and the need for COP27 to deliver some strong, tangible outcomes.

A third, quite different factor may be the caliber of the incoming Egyptian presidency. While there has been some criticism of the host country’s human rights record and treatment of local NGOs in the lead up to COP27, some climate insiders have been impressed by the incoming presidency’s team led by Sameh Shoukry, Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs and COP27 president-designate, and Egyptian Minister for the Environment Dr. Yasmine Fouad, the COP Ministerial Coordinator and Envoy. Their quality has spurred hopes the Egyptian hosts could build on what is widely viewed as a fairly successful COP26 in Glasgow last November.

Dark Clouds Loom

Those are certainly reasons for hope. Yet the skeptics arguably have a stronger case. First, while the world’s climate crisis may have affirmed the need for urgency, the geopolitical and economic situation may be pushing in the opposite direction. The war in Ukraine has badly damaged relations between the West and Russia, while tensions over Taiwan have had a similar (if not so extreme) effect with China. These are hardly good conditions for building mutual trust and understanding—usually a prerequisite for a strong outcome in international negotiations.

One major side effect of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the West’s response, has been the energy crisis now engulfing Europe. There is also a predicted food crisis, not just from the war but also the impacts of climate change on harvests. Will this reinvigorate efforts at COP27 to find solutions or distract Western nations beset by inflation and a looming recession?

Closer to home, the latest round of UN climate talks, the Subsidiary Bodies meetings held in Bonn in June, were not wildly productive. A few procedural outcomes could not mask the ongoing disagreements in key areas like loss and damage compensation (including calls for a new fund), as well as slow progress in talks on adaptation and financing. More recently, a G20 gathering of energy and climate ministers held in late August in Indonesia failed to approve a draft outcome document amid reports of disagreements and a “breakdown” in negotiations. This is a worrying outcome so close to the COP.

Another uncertainty, which may yet prove either negative or positive, is the change in leadership at the UN’s climate secretariat. With Patricia Espinosa stepping down in July, Simon Stiell was named as her successor in August. Mr. Stiell boasts an impressive CV, having held ministerial appointments in his home country of Grenada, as well as executive corporate jobs overseas. An engineer by training, he has been involved in the climate negotiations and knows the characters and issues well. His experience in government at a high level should help him engage with dignitaries and senior officials at COP27 and he will undoubtedly bring energy and vigor to the job at a critical time. Furthermore, coming from a small island developing state should give him greater legitimacy given their vulnerability to sea-level rise, thus ensuring his voice is heard loud and clear.

On the other hand, there is little time for him to get to grips with his new job if he is to have an impact on a COP that starts in early November. The runway for him to achieve liftoff at Sharm El-Sheikh is alarmingly short.

Key Topics for COP27 to Tackle

So what does COP27 need to deliver?  The main criterion should be whether it produces concrete climate action. COP27 has been pitched as the “implementation” COP, where the goals of the Paris Agreement, helped by the rulebook adopted in Glasgow, begin to be delivered. What should this implementation look like?

Nationally Determined Contributions: Keeping 1.5 Alive: Revisiting countries’ nationally determined contributions (NDCs)—essentially their pledges and plans—at COP27 is important. Many feel it is imperative to maintain the pressure to improve the many NDCs delivered in time for COP26. However, only a dozen or so countries have submitted new or revised NDCs since Glasgow. Of these, the new targets by Australia (43% by 2030 from 2005 levels) and India (45% by 2030 on 2005 levels) are noteworthy. But the pre-Glasgow “flood” of ambitious, headline-grabbing NDCs has now reduced to a trickle.

Depending on whether you just take the commitments by governments into account or include those of other stakeholders, we are currently still looking at a temperature rise of 1.8-2.7oC. Of course, this is much lower than estimates prior to Paris (2015), when some predicted a rise of 4-6oC by the end of the century. Nevertheless, those lower numbers still rely on all stakeholders delivering their promises. And they still take us well beyond 1.5oC.

For these reasons, more ambitious NDCs in the lead-up to, or during, COP27, would help deliver a major boost.

Climate Finance: The commitment made in Copenhagen in 2009 for US$100 billion a year for climate finance by 2020 was not achieved. This is particularly disappointing since the $100 billion was intended as a floor not a ceiling. Furthermore, most of the funding that was delivered came in the form of loans, not grants, which recipients would usually prefer. It is evident, therefore, that we are locked in the basement when it comes to climate funding, and that major progress is needed for us to climb out of the hole. 

The reality is that we need trillions, not billions, to address climate change and that government aid will not be enough. Still, progress by government negotiators on a new collective quantified goal on climate finance is needed. While this goal is not supposed to be agreed until 2024, COP27 will need to show significant progress and demonstrate we are heading firmly in the right direction.

Outside the government negotiations, observers will also be looking for progress by other stakeholders. For instance, the launch in 2021 of the Glasgow Finance Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) as a coalition of the willing will need to play a critical role. GFANZ represents two-fifths of the world's financial assets, $130 trillion, under the management of banks, insurers and pension funds that have signed up to 2050 net-zero goals including limiting global warming to 1.5oC. This includes targets for asset managers (halve emissions by 2030), asset owners (by 2030 net zero aligned portfolios covering emissions reductions), banks (net zero emissions from all activities and portfolios by 2050) and insurers (by 2030 net zero aligned investment, insurance and reinsurance underwriting portfolios). The realignment of the market is critical to achieving our 1.5oC goal. The state of play with GFANZ and what transparency systems have been set up should be critically reviewed by NGOs and other stakeholders at COP27, with clear signs that these goals are real and not just empty promises.

Article 6--the Carbon Market: Another outcome from Glasgow was adoption of the rulebook covering Voluntary Carbon Markets under the Paris Agreement. This should open the door to billions of dollars of investments (in 2021 it was $2 billion). Furthermore, the rules agreed in Glasgow were generally seen as fairly stringent. This is important because demand is set to grow for carbon offsets (removing/reducing emissions in one place to compensate for emissions elsewhere). Yet if these offsets are of poor quality—as some currently are—then we will not have a chance of staying within our 1.5oC goal.  To be successful, this market will need to improve its approach. For instance, certification should ensure that tree planting and other similar efforts address both climate change and biodiversity as an integrated set of challenges. More broadly, COP27 will provide an opportunity to assess early progress as we move towards implementing Article 6.

Loss and Damage: Given the number of extreme climate events recently, a long-term issue for negotiators—compensation for loss and damage caused by climate change—has developed into a major, pressing challenge for COP27. While developing countries in particular are looking for rapid progress, the Glasgow Loss and Damage Dialogues in Bonn in June did not set a well-defined narrative. Clear disagreement could be discerned around the use of existing funding arrangements to address the issue versus the creation of a new loss and damage financial facility, which many developing countries favor. Progress on this issue will be important at COP27.

Global Goal on Adaptation: The development of the objectives and modalities for this goal to support the implementation of the Paris Agreement was discussed in Bonn in June. While it is still early days in this discussion, COP27 should recognize the different levels of development countries are in and the challenges they face and how this might inform the Global Stocktaking process in future.  There was also a commitment in Glasgow to double adaptation funding by 2025. This should raise the amount to US$40 billion annually. Again, COP27 provides an opportunity to give some early signals this goal will be achieved.

A Voice for Africa: With Egypt hosting this meeting, COP27 provides an opportunity to amplify regional voices from Africa in the conversation and to highlight issues of global justice and equity. A successful COP would, in our view, show a growing solidarity between the Global North and South on issues such as financing and loss and damage. 

Navigating Complexity

Clearly, COP27 faces some significant headwinds given the current geopolitical situation. Nevertheless, we believe the Egyptian presidency has an opportunity to build on a solid COP26 and that its efforts to focus on implementation and secure some tangible outcomes is the right choice. With the United Arab Emirates set to hold the Presidency for COP28, it will be fascinating to see whether this triad of presidencies—the UK, Egypt, and UAE—can help guide this complex and critical period in the negotiations to some positive conclusions.

Felix Dodds and Chris Spence are co-editors of the new book, Heroes of Environmental Diplomacy: Profiles in Courage (Routledge Press, 2022). It includes chapters on the climate negotiations held in Kyoto (1997), Copenhagen (2009) and Paris (2015).

 

 

 

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Book launch of Heroes of Environmental Diplomacy - a book that can help you explain to your family what you do :-)

On Wednesday the 13th of July. Heroes of Environmental Diplomacy - Profiles in Courage was launched. It can be viewed on facebook here. It can be bought on amazon here.

The event was opened by Mayer Nasser the Director of the Outreach Division in the United Nations Department of Global Communications. It was moderated by Chantal Line Carpentier who currently serves as Chief, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) New York office of the Secretary-General. 

The speakers at the launch were Felix Dodds (co-editor and who wrote on the hero Maurice Strong), Irena Zubcevic (who wrote on the hero Paula Caballero)and Patrick Ramage (who wrote on the hero Sidney Holt

Here is Felix's comments at the book launch:

I am only one part of the team that put this book together the other part is Chris Spence unfortunately in New Zealand and so couldn’t join us.


This book is his inspiration and he hassled me to come along for the ride which to begin with I told him I didn’t have time as I was finishing another book ‘Tomorrow’s People and New Technology’ but the idea of Heroes and Profile in Courage was just too delicious an idea not to do.

So what makes a hero?

On our screens and in books it is often their appearance—their clothes and gear—that give them away. Some slip on shiny, skin-hugging lycra as they take to the skies, on their way to defeat the supervillain and save the day.

Others carry wands or swords, or sonic screwdrivers.

Real life is different and—in our view—more interesting. Real life heroes can’t call on unearthly powers.

Real-life heroes are just like you and me. They rely on ordinary, everyday skills—intelligence, persistence, persuasion, even humour—to achieve the extraordinary results.

And yet, their task is no less important than their fictional peers. Even without superpowers, many real-life heroes are doing their utmost to save the planet.

This book is about environmental heroes. It tells the stories—some for the first time—of people who have played a global role in taking on an environmental challenge that is larger than their organization or their country. In so doing, they have helped improve our world.


Our work draws inspiration from President John F. Kennedy’s book, Profiles in Courage.

Updating this for the modern era, our book goes beyond national borders and takes a global perspective.

Each chapter tells the story of an individual who has played a significant role in securing global agreement or landmark treaty on a major environmental threat.

We scratch beneath the surface to figure out what kind of person each hero was. What were they like?

What motivated them?

How did they beat the odds and achieve some sort of success?

And what is their legacy today?

Interestingly, we uncover a range of characteristics and attributes. No two were the same.

Some of our heroes were humble, while others were larger-than-life figures.

Some were excellent listeners, while others were consummate talkers.

Some were ferocious in their single-minded will to succeed, taking no prisoners along the way, while others forged friendships and alliances.

All were persistent, refusing to give up even when their situation seemed hopeless.

Every one of them recognized that international diplomacy—and persuading the world’s governments to take an issue seriously—was the only way to address an environmental challenge that is global in nature.


From saving the whales to protecting our ozone layer, from championing a more sustainable way of life to combating climate change, these heroes were determined to make a difference.

Each has a unique, fascinating and, at times, even shocking life story.

Heroes of Environmental Diplomacy: Profiles in Courage tackles a different topic—and a different hero—in each chapter.

In each story, we review the political and environmental situation the world was facing at the time.

We provide insights on each hero’s character and motivations, explain how they helped bring the issue to an international audience, and reveal how the situation was resolved.

Why did we write this book?

First, we want to show the impact individuals with courage can play in bringing about global change.

Each person featured in the book has advanced an international response to a pressing environmental challenge—in the shape of a global treaty or agreement—that has changed the world for the better.

Often, they achieved this in spite of daunting hurdles and obstacles.

Secondly, we hope these stories will serve as an inspiration for the next generation of leaders as our global community seeks to face down the latest—and largest—wave of environmental crises in the 2020s and beyond.

Finally, we want to show that international engagement—diplomacy and negotiations—actually works.

Yes, the world is beset with difficulties. But the only way we can deal with global threats is by coming together as a community at a planetary level. Many problems we face today, from climate change to biodiversity loss, are too big for one single country to deal with alone.

We can only do this by working together.

We three here today only represent three of the authors and three of the heroes.

My hero was Maurice Strong the father of sustainable development secretary general of both the 1972 Stockholm Conference and the 1992 Rio Earth Summit and the first Executive Director of UNEP.

A man who grew up in the Great Depression, dropped out of school at 14.

His father never got another full time job after the depression hit.

Maurice modified the date on his birth certificate from 1929 to 1924 to fight in the Second World War, he hitched rides on freight trains to Vancouver – then was a stowaway on a merchant ship that was under contract to the US Army to transport troops to Alaska – ended up working as a dishwasher on the ship.

Two years later working for the Hudson Bay Company which brought him in contact with the Inuit and his lifetime support for the causes of indigenous peoples.

He interned in the UN Pass Office and realized with his lack of education he would need to come back to the UN in a different way than just progressing through the ranks.

He would be an Under Secretary General of the UN seven times in his life the first time as the Secretary General of the 1972 Stockholm environment conference.

He was disappointed in the implementation of the conference outcomes and this chapter focuses on what he did about that when he became the secretary general of the Rio 1992 Earth Summit twenty years later.

He had recognized that governments alone would not deliver global agreements that he would need the support of other key stakeholders and identify over the process of the preparatory meetings for the Earth Summit nine stakeholder groups.

He knew that industry, trade unions and local government would be added as major implementers,


That there was a need for women to ensure a gender perspective and that the next generation would also need their space, 

That all the key environmental processes need to be built on science, that food with a growing population would need the involvement of farmers.

That Indigenous Peoples so often forgotten by politicians needed a space for their voices and their knowledge to be heard and finally that NGOs who would monitor and help put pressure on governments to deliver what they promised needed to be at the table and as important many NGOs were implementation agents for governments decisions.

Underlying this approach was his theory of change

“that involving stakeholders in the decision making process will make better informed decisions and that those stakeholders then will be more likely to individually or in partnership help implement those decisions”.

The development and implementation of the SDGs is the best example of that theory of change. When researching this chapter nearly everyone I spoke with didn’t appreciate at the time what and why Maurice was doing this.

Secretary general Kofi Annan said of Maurice

“If the world succeeds in making the transition to truly sustainable development, all of us will owe no small debt of gratitude to Maurice Strong.”

The book is in four sections:

  1. Protecting Nature: Geoffrey Matthews, Luc Hoffmann, Eskandar Firouz and Sidney Holt
  2. 2.Chemical Threats: Mostafa Tolba and Franz Perrez,
  3. 3.Climate Change: Raúl Estrada-Oyuela, Barack Obama and Christiana Figueres and,
  4. 4.Sustainable Development: Maurice Strong, Maria Luiza Viotti and Paula Caballero 

Finally, we end the book by reflecting on our heroes’ profiles.

What can we learn from them? What characteristics did they all share? What, collectively, did they achieve? And could they have done it all on their own, or were they all really part of a wider circle of friends and allies?  -

Maybe one or two of you here today and online will be a heros of tomorrow – as we try and secure a more sustainable, just and equitable future for all. 

Final thoughts

There are many other treaties and processes we could have included but did not, for a variety of reasons.

In many cases, we did not feel the story was ready to tell, either because we believe more progress is needed or the timing just isn’t quite right.

They may form the basis of a second book sometime in the future.

As for the people we featured, we want to emphasize that success is never down to one person.

Every story featured in this book required many people to bring it about. It is always a collective, team effort, even if individual roles are highlighted here.

Then there are many politicians from all stripes who have made a difference, not to mention scientists, diplomats and stakeholder activists.

For those who fully deserve to be featured in the pages of such a book as this, we apologize that we could feature only a small number of the many heroes of environmental diplomacy.

Perhaps a future book might tell more of these stories?

And what might a future edition look like?

We know this book is a product of its time.

With stories ranging from the 1960s through to the 2020s, it may not be a surprise that most of the chapters—seven of the ten—are about men.

We believe—and firmly hope—that were this book to be updated in 5 or 10 or even 20 years, more of the heroes would be women.

Indeed, it is interesting to note that, of the four stories set after 2010, three of our four heroes are women.

We hope you will buy a copy today and many more copies fin the future for your families and friends who don’t understand what you do at these meetings.  This book we hope will go a little way to help you explain it.

Id like to thank the UN bookshop staff who have made this possible Mayer and Chantal line for introducing and moderating our session and Chris Spence for the vision of this book and the authors who have contributed to telling the amazing stories of how environmental diplomacy works and how to recognize some of our heroes. And for all of you who came out during a busy HLPF.

 

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Global Connections TV - interview of Felix Dodds on his new book Tomorrow's People and New Technology and a review of UNEA

The interview can be found here where i discuss the UN Environment Assembly outcomes and then discuss the new book Tomorrow's People and New Technology which can be bought here.

As we witness a series of social, political, cultural, and economic changes/disruptions this book examines the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the way emerging technologies are impacting our lives and changing society. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is characterised by the emergence of new technologies that are blurring the boundaries between the physical, the digital, and the biological worlds. This book allows readers to explore how these technologies will impact peoples’ lives by 2030. It helps readers to not only better understand the use and implications of emerging technologies, but also to imagine how their individual life will be shaped by them. The book provides an opportunity to see the great potential but also the threats and challenges presented by the emerging technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, posing questions for the reader to think about what future they want. Emerging technologies, such as robotics, artificial intelligence, big data and analytics, cloud computing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, the Internet of Things, fifth-generation wireless technologies (5G), and fully autonomous vehicles, among others, will have a significant impact on every aspect of our lives, as such this book looks at their potential impact in the entire spectrum of daily life, including home life, travel, education and work, health, entertainment and social life.

Providing an indication of what the world might look like in 2030, this book is essential reading for students, scholars, professionals, and policymakers interested in the nexus between emerging technologies and sustainable development, politics and society, and global governance.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is characterised by the emergence of new technologies that are blurring the boundaries between the physical, the digital, and the biological worlds. This book allows readers to explore how these technologies will impact peoples’ lives by 2030. It helps readers to not only better understand the use and implications of emerging technologies, but also to imagine how their individual life will be shaped by them. The book provides an opportunity to see the great potential but also the threats and challenges presented by the emerging technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, posing questions for the reader to think about what future they want. Emerging technologies, such as robotics, artificial intelligence, big data and analytics, cloud computing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, the Internet of Things, fifth-generation wireless technologies (5G), and fully autonomous vehicles, among others, will have a significant impact on every aspect of our lives, as such this book looks at their potential impact in the entire spectrum of daily life, including home life, travel, education and work, health, entertainment and social life.

Providing an indication of what the world might look like in 2030, this book is essential reading for students, scholars, professionals, and policymakers interested in the nexus between emerging technologies and sustainable development, politics and society, and global governance.

  • Created on .

Global Connections TV - interview of Felix Dodds on his new book Tomorrow's People and New Technology and a review of UNEA

The interview can be found here where i discuss the UN Environment Assembly outcomes and then discuss the new book Tomorrow's People and New Technology which can be bought here.

As we witness a series of social, political, cultural, and economic changes/disruptions this book examines the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the way emerging technologies are impacting our lives and changing society. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is characterised by the emergence of new technologies that are blurring the boundaries between the physical, the digital, and the biological worlds. This book allows readers to explore how these technologies will impact peoples’ lives by 2030. It helps readers to not only better understand the use and implications of emerging technologies, but also to imagine how their individual life will be shaped by them. The book provides an opportunity to see the great potential but also the threats and challenges presented by the emerging technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, posing questions for the reader to think about what future they want. Emerging technologies, such as robotics, artificial intelligence, big data and analytics, cloud computing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, the Internet of Things, fifth-generation wireless technologies (5G), and fully autonomous vehicles, among others, will have a significant impact on every aspect of our lives, as such this book looks at their potential impact in the entire spectrum of daily life, including home life, travel, education and work, health, entertainment and social life.

Providing an indication of what the world might look like in 2030, this book is essential reading for students, scholars, professionals, and policymakers interested in the nexus between emerging technologies and sustainable development, politics and society, and global governance.

 

 

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is characterised by the emergence of new technologies that are blurring the boundaries between the physical, the digital, and the biological worlds. This book allows readers to explore how these technologies will impact peoples’ lives by 2030. It helps readers to not only better understand the use and implications of emerging technologies, but also to imagine how their individual life will be shaped by them. The book provides an opportunity to see the great potential but also the threats and challenges presented by the emerging technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, posing questions for the reader to think about what future they want. Emerging technologies, such as robotics, artificial intelligence, big data and analytics, cloud computing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, the Internet of Things, fifth-generation wireless technologies (5G), and fully autonomous vehicles, among others, will have a significant impact on every aspect of our lives, as such this book looks at their potential impact in the entire spectrum of daily life, including home life, travel, education and work, health, entertainment and social life.

 

Providing an indication of what the world might look like in 2030, this book is essential reading for students, scholars, professionals, and policymakers interested in the nexus between emerging technologies and sustainable development, politics and society, and global governance.

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My contribution to the High-Level Leadership Dialogue: Looking Back on UNEP@50

This has been a great session on the last 50 years, and I particularly found Achim’s insight something we should all reflect on.

My brief comments will focus on three things.

First, I would like to pay tribute to Maurice Strong not only as has been said the first director of UNEP but so much of what we do builds on his vision.

Without his personal push in 1992 for the Rio Earth Summit there would not be the nine chapters of agenda 21 that gave rights AND responsibilities for the stakeholders we have engaged at UNEA

Second, I would like to mention the enormous work of Mostafa Tolba Executive Director for nearly 20 years and whose commitment to building up UNEPs science base and starting to facilitate much of what we now see as the Multilateral Environmental Agreements landscape.

Particularly his work around Montreal Protocol. But also, the work on climate change. 

It was first mentioned in the Stockholm Conference outcome. Under Mostafa’s leadership working with WMO the two World Climate Conferences created the foundations for the UNFCCC and established the IPCC.

I had the pleasure of working with UNEP to help facilitate the launch of the first three Global Environmental Outlook reports in London the first under Liz Dowdeswell’s directorship of UNEP. It is great to see how far GEO has come and how well respected it is and is the flagship science report of UNEP.

Third, I want to commend the work that was started under Klaus Toepfer and then realised under Achim Steiner on the clustering of conventions.

The creation of the super COP for chemicals and waste is a great first stage for ensuring better coordination and for addressing gaps. Hopefully the mercury convention and the to be negotiated plastics one will find a home there.

A version of this with the biodiversity conventions could be achieved in the next couple of years building more coherence and linking better to UNEP would be a great achievement.

A final reflection.

The decision to hold UNED 6 in 2024 will mean that there is no major ministerial input to next year’s Heads of State Midterm review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and their Sustainable Development Goals nor the review of the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience.

This worries me a lot.

Member states could call a special session of UNEA to address this early next year or a hybrid member state hosted meeting but if Ministers do not have the opportunity to give a coherent environmental voice, then it will be diminished at a vital time when it should be heard. Thank you.

 

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Felix Interview on Inside Ideas on the new book Tomorrow's People and New Technology

I am delighted to welcome back Professor Felix Dodds as my guest on the Inside Ideas podcast. The episode can be found here.

An Adjunct Professor at the University of North Carolina and an Associate Fellow at the Tellus Institute, he was listed one of the world’s top 25 environmentalists ahead of his time in 2011. The same year, he chaired the United Nations DPI 64th NGO conference ‘Sustainable Societies Responsive Citizens’, which put forward the first set of indicative Sustainable Development Goals.

Professor Dodds has also authored or edited over 20 books, including co-writing ‘Negotiating the Sustainable Development Goals’ with Ambassador David Donoghue and Jimena Leiva Roesch, and ‘Only One Earth’, with the father of sustainable development, Maurice Strong.

His latest book ‘Tomorrow’s People and New Technology′ explores the impact the Fourth Industrial Revolution will have on peoples’ lives by 2030 and asks how technologies, including AI, biotechnology, IoT, and big data will come to shape every aspect of it.

“One of the things we need to do is to look at 2030 and to then look back,” he said. “What is 2030 going to be like and the book indicates some of it. What are the policy implications now, in 2022, 2023 that we need to address. What are the things that need to be done to advance many of the green technologies?”

He continued: “We list a number of what we call the jobs of the future: garbage designers, where you’re taking garbage and making it into things that people might want; or a personal data broker; weather modification police; or classroom avatar manager. As I think some of the interesting things in the classroom will be the use of virtual reality and hopefully some of these tools will make our students more knowledgeable, more understanding of culture as we move forward.”

In books predicting what a future defined by emerging technologies might look like, it is the worst case scenarios that often take centre stage but not in this one.

“The book was trying to make the future not seem scary,” Professor Dodds said. “There are so many books out there that talk about the technology advance and it being a scary world, and talk about the challenges as opposed to the positives.”

He added “We’re trying to help people to think ‘wow — so this is what my kitchen would look like, this is what my bathroom would look like. To ask: what would travel look like in 2030?’ What would entertainment look like? What about fashion? It may be that you’re 3D printing your fashion at home, or it may be that you decide to send to ask for something to be delivered by Amazon, or the equivalent, the next day and there’s a 3D printer in the shopping mall that prints out clothes for you — that’s less waste and transport than if you were getting it from possibly India, or China, or Vietnam and having it brought over. Less waste is good because we need to conserve, and we need to create much more of a circular economy for all of our things.”

Sound good?

Take a deep dive with me and Professor Dodds for more on the exciting futures that can be unlocked by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

 

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