What are the next steps post COP26? 

Ms Rebecca Goodman, is the outgoing ABCG Director

What you need to know:

We will continue to draw attention to the deforestation commitment, climate finance developments, and other COP26 outcomes.

COP26 can be viewed as a partial victory at the top-level and comparatively more successful, in terms of some of the one-off accomplishments from the first week of the Summit that impact African biodiversity objectives. 

 The Glasgow Climate Pact was reached late in the COP26 process on November 13, and it has had a mixed reception so far.  If we look at Glasgow from a glass half full perspective, the Pact is forward progress – signed by 197 countries, and technically the first climate agreement to include ‘coal usage reduction’ by name.

 Understandably so, the perceived failures of COP26 have quickly become a rallying call for stronger climate action. Many have pointed to a minor revision in the language that revised “phase out” coal to “phase down” late in the negotiations as a core failure.

But we remain optimistic that the agreement embodies a commitment to re-visit emission reduction plans in 2022 to try to keep the 1.5 °C Paris Agreement target achievable.

Are we on the right track?  Cautiously, yes, I think we are on the right track.  But there is a lot more to be said about what was accomplished early at COP26, in the shadow of the more tentative commitments within the Glasgow Climate Pact. As a network, our ABCG members have a huge stake in some of the less visible, but still notable, victories.

 Overall, there are now new opportunities for countries to deliver on what they know must be done to avoid a climate catastrophe. But unless they sharply pivot to implementation and show substantial results, they will continue to have their credibility challenged. We believe that the UN Climate Change Conference and subsequent meetings are necessary and worthwhile to helping achieve some of ABCG’s biggest objectives, including mainstreaming biodiversity considerations into economic development at the community level in African countries, reaching women and youth. We are particularly encouraged by private sector commitments, as well as climate financing, pledged to advance the roles and rights of indigenous peoples and local communities.

In Africa, we need to increase support for community-led conservation, a model through which communities are supported to more sustainably manage their natural resources for the benefit of both people and nature. Equipping communities with additional natural resource management capacity and opportunities for improved livelihoods from conservation can improve habitat, reduce carbon emissions from deforestation, and boost communities’ resilience to the effects of climate change.

We must also emphasize the contribution that nature-based solutions have in increasing the resilience of the most vulnerable and meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. All this must be done with local nature stewards, especially indigenous people and pocal communities, front and center leading on this agenda. The nature-based solutions concept was removed from the final text in Glasgow and needs to be taken-up at COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh.

Next steps on the heels of COP26 are to align the specific commitments discussed earlier with the objectives of key stakeholders to raise awareness.  Of particular interest are African Governments, local communities (including youth), investors and business leaders, and other NGOs. 

African countries must take a pragmatic and holistic approach to the climate crisis, and it must have buy-in from every level of African society. ABCG will work collaboratively with our member organizations and broader conservation community to communicate opportunities and take advantage of new initiatives arising at COP26 for climate finance stemming from large donors and private companies expressing interest and new commitments to net zero portfolios by 2050.

Ms Rebecca Goodman, is the outgoing ABCG Director