My name is Vicky and I am a forest engineering student at Laval University. Last November, I participated in the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22) on climate change that was held in Marrakech, Morocco, as a representative of the International Forestry Student Association (IFSA), a worldwide not-for-profit association of forestry students that is connected with the United Nations.
Conference of the Parties
Various political, environmental, social and scientific stakeholders from around the world attended COP22. It was a highly effective international forum for discussing discoveries and projects related to climate change.
This year’s agenda focussed on achievement of the Paris Agreement (COP21) objective of limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius. The related financial aspect was also touched upon, as it had not been covered in depth last year. The Paris Agreement was ratified by 55 countries (including Canada) that are responsible for 55% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Africa’s fight against climate change
Since the Conference of the Parties was held in Morocco, the discussions focused on projects and issues in Africa. Although the African continent generates only 4% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, six of the continent’s countries are listed among the ten countries most affected by climate change.
Water is already difficult to obtain in many parts of Africa and climate change is exacerbating the problem. Faced with this difficulty, innovative green technologies have been developed, such as collecting fog to convert it into water for people living near mountains; recovering and recycling plastics and electronic products (a previously underdeveloped aspect in Africa); and distributing solar panels to people in small villages who cook with wood in order to limit wood removal from neighboring forests.
Canadian forestry and climate change
Canada, in addition to investing $2.56 billion to support developing countries, will devote $1.8 billion to encouraging Canada’s private sector to use renewable, green energy sources. During the conference, the Canadian government acknowledged the importance of fighting climate change and promoting the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Investing in a greener future today may generate a competitive edge tomorrow.
The REDD+ project to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries was undertaken by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to help developing countries protect their forests. Interested countries submit a formal application through a non-governmental organization (NGO). Many of the world’s NGOs participate and help to boost awareness among forest dwellers and find alternatives to harvesting wood, such as the use of solar panels.
Gender, justice and climate
The presentations about African women and climate change also drew my attention because, very naively, I did not see any correlation. I soon understood. In Africa, women’s rights are far from being as advanced as in western nations. Women are particularly affected by the lack of viable wells as they are responsible for finding water for their entire family. This is hard work: it takes about three and a half hours to obtain just 30 litres of water, which may or may not be drinkable. Even young girls are assigned to this labor, and the fact that they are increasingly young – owing to climate change – interferes with their access to education.
As a member of a youth delegation, I hope to promote education, especially about forestry and the forest environment. I also want to encourage young people to participate in decision making and important events, and to empower them. Remember that 50% of the world’s population consists of young people. The best way to make sure that today’s resolutions are fulfilled is to bring young people on board: they are the future.
In conclusion, I encourage you to use the links below to learn more about the topics that interest you.
Canada’s national statement at COP22
Canada and climate change
Article on COP 22