Youth Reflection on the Outcomes of the Bonn climate change conference 2023


After two weeks of intense negotiations, the Bonn Climate Conference also referred to as the SBs, which opened on June 5th, drew to a close late in the evening on June 15th. The SBs are a critical platform for assessing progress since the previous Conference of Parties (COP 27 Egypt) and setting the stage for the upcoming COP (COP 28 UAE). During This year’s Bonn intersessions, Civil society and youth climate activists held high hopes for substantial advancements in critical areas, including the Global Stocktake (GST), Loss and Damage, and the phasedown of fossil fuels in addition to discussions around critical topics such as Finance, Adaptation, and Mitigation.

However, it is unfortunate to note that the general feeling among activists and civil society is one of disappointment, as the two weeks of negotiations failed to significantly address the critical issues at hand. Once again,  we’re leaving the UNFCCC process with frustration and dissatisfaction as parties demonstrated a lack of ambition and persistence in delaying significant decisions to combat climate change. 

On Loss and damage, the biggest disappointment remains that parties could not choose between the Caribbean Development Bank and the UNDRR – UNOPS (United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction – United Nations Office for Project Services) for the host secretariat of the Santiago Network on Loss and Damage. Until late on the closing day, negotiators met in formal consultations to untangle the deadlock, but the outcome is to continue consultations at SB59 in Dubai ahead of COP 28. Additionally, outside the negotiation rooms, activists warned against the narrative that put funding arrangements ahead of the fund, stressing the need to operationalize the Loss and damage fund, not only funding arrangements”. The second Glasgow dialogue, which convened at Bonn, was meant to inform the work of the transitional committee, which is to meet for the 3rd and fourth time in the following months before COP 28. Yet, there are still many unresolved questions regarding the Loss and damage fund; indeed, the transitional committee and delegates at Bonn have heard echoing voices of youth demanding to fill the fund. 

Another crucial highlight during the SB58 was the parties’ inability to adopt the agenda through the two weeks. The reason for the block is related to the Mitigation Work Program and implementation. Developed countries purposefully excluded debate over finance for mitigation, while developing countries legitimately claimed that any debate on mitigation should include finance. Finally, despite numerous outside demonstrations to demand delegates to ‘put mitigation on the agenda,’ an agreement was reached on agenda items but without mitigation figuring in it. 

Last, the Fossil fuel phase-down was massively present at talks outside the negotiations venues. Youth activists unified their voices to demand a phase-out of fossil fuels and a just transition to renewables. Fiji is among the latest countries that join the movement to support the demand for a just transition. Developed countries, on the other side, are keeping their positions ambiguous. Despite the UAE COP 28 president’s declaration that a phase-out of fossil fuel is inevitable, there are no clear steps from the presidency and parties toward an agreement at COP 28.

It’s all about Finance…

Loss and damage is happening at a severe level at the moment. Those who have the least caused the climate crisis are the ones who bear the brunt of it. Developed countries that are historically responsible for the climate should pay for it by providing the necessary finance and technical support to developing countries. Yet, they fail to endorse this responsibility for many years, blocking any negotiations progress. Unfortunately, developed countries have not fulfilled any of the commitments or pledges regarding climate change, especially the 100 billion for adaptation agreed upon at the Paris COP. Today, Loss and damage cost trillions of dollars to developing countries, and not even one-third of the cost of climate change is gathered. It’s so unfortunate when we know that each year the same developed nations spend billions on fossil fuel subsidies which, in turn, make billions of profit to the detriment of the climate. 

Today, we’re off to reach the target of 2 degrees because of this inaction and continuous delay in decision-making. The next COP 28 in Dubai, G20 meetings, and IMF spring meetings are occasions for a global reprioritization of climate change and address transformative financial mechanisms to global climate change commitments and bring efforts in building equal and multilateral solid cooperation. 

Why should we keep coming…

Finally, despite the keen interest it raised this year, the Bonn Climate Conference ended the same as the many UNFCCC processes in the last years. It’s a repeat of the same habits to delay climate action again. The thing we can bring from SB58 is the continuously growing youth interest in the Bonn intersessional. At COP 27, its evident youth mobilization in the last years to bring Loss and damage in the mainstream, especially at COP 26 in Glasgow, has been fundamental in establishing the Loss and damage fund. This year, along with advocacy to fill the Loss and damage fund, young people are pushing hard to see a phase-down on all fossil fuels. Leaders might delay their decision, but they cannot ignore it anymore 

Note: These are the reflections of Mamadou Sylla and do not reflect the stand of the Coalition.

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