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Editorial: COP29 in Baku needs to be also a summit of peace

Editorial: COP29 in Baku needs to be also a summit of peace

The nexus between “climate change, peace and security” has been at the centre of attention for many years. It is not only about how climate change is exacerbating environmental conditions, increasing the prospects for conflict on owning and sharing resources, and accentuating already existing problems, such as for example water shortage in the Sahel, but it is also about how conflicts are contributing directly to a worsening environmental situation, increasing the gravity of climate change. With major climatic incidents now a regular occurrence across the world, and from which no one is spared, minds have recently become more focused. At COP28 in Dubai in December 2023, the UAE took the initiative to bring the discussion within a COP context. Here again, there was no consensus, with Russia, China and some of the countries in the Global South resisting, But the UAE persisted, and found a way through which they could do three things: insert the theme in the proceedings of COP28; establish a dedicated day during the COP summit where the focus was peace, and push for the adoption, even if not by consensus of the “COP28 declaration on Climate, Relief, Recovery and Peace“. This was a big achievement, but only a start. It is clear that what was achieved in Dubai needs to be consolidated and developed in Baku in November 2024. The Azerbaijan government, host of COP29 was initially reluctant to go too far in the inclusion of the peace agenda in COP29 but they have now warmed up to the idea. Over the weekend, the Presidential Foreign Policy Advisor, Hikmet Haciyev, spoke about the possibility of having a COP truce during the Baku summit. There are more than a hundred ongoing armed conflicts in the world. Securing a cease-fire in even one of them would be positive and welcome, but may be very difficult to achieve. A COP29 cease-fire may be an aspiration, but the focus should be on more tangible objectives, and particularly on building on what has been already achieved in COP28 This can include: Having the theme Climate Change, Peace and Security as a theme of COP29; More specifically in Baku the focus should be on water scarcity; food insecurity and landmine contamination and the linkage between conflict and environmental degradation • Having a dedicated day of peace in the COP29 programme, with the participation of the UN Secretary-General, and a gathering of Nobel Peace Price winners • Adopting a new declaration, building on the one agreed in Dubai in November, which would also have the possibility of signatories presenting packages that could be practical tools for moving forward some of the ideas contained in it. All this is doable. There are then other issues on which work needs to be done, but which are also achievable. Will COP29 be historic also because it would be the first time an Armenian leader visits Baku since the long conflict of the last three decades? Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan does not shy away from difficult decisions. He can very well see the value of this gesture, particularly since in Baku he will not only be welcomed by the leader of Azerbaijan, but by the biggest gathering of world leaders ever to gather in the South Caucasus. President Aliyev and Prime Minister Pashinyan can co-host a special event at the dedicated Peace Day. Imagine the significance of that! All the ingredients exist to make COP29 in Baku a historic summit of peace and it should not be missed. But there is much work to be done yet, and the negativity of the malcontents needs to be overcome.
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Bonn Dialogue Meeting calls for the theme "Climate Change, Peace and Security" to be included in the agenda of COP29

Bonn Dialogue Meeting calls for the theme "Climate Change, Peace and Security" to be included in the agenda of COP29

A dialogue meeting on the topic: “Climate Change Peace and Security – COP 29 and Beyond” was held at the Bonn University Club in Bonn, Germany, on Friday, 3 May 2024. Representatives of various state-parties to the Climate Convention and of the UN Climate Secretariat, joined participants from around 30 academic institutions, think tanks and civil society organisations to review the work done on this topic at COP28 in Dubai in December and chart a way forward for ensuring the continuation of the process at the COP29 meeting in Baku in November. At the opening session, the meeting was addressed by HE Hana al Hashemi, the United Arab Emirates COP28 Chief negotiator, HE Nigar Arpadarai, the UN High-Level Champion for COP29 in Azerbaijan, and Mr Markus Hicken, Director for Energy Foreign Policy, Climate and Security at the German Federal Foreign Office. Also speaking at the opening session was Ms Maria Paloma Noriega Jalil, representing the UN Climate Secretariat. There followed an intensive one-day of discussions on the current state of the COP process, and the on-going debate on the nexus of Climate Change, Peace and Security within the COP process. The meeting was addressed by world-class experts from leading think tanks and academic institutions, including Chatham House, the German Council on Foreign Relations, ADELPHI, the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, Heidelberg University, The Hertie School in Berlin, amongst others. The meeting positively assessed the steps taken in COP28 in Dubai in December, including the inclusion of climate change, peace and security as a theme of the meeting, the holding for the first time of a day on peace in the deliberations, and the “COP28 Declaration on Climate, Relief, Recovery and Peace”. It was felt that it was important that this momentum will not be lost, and similar actions are also included as part of the COP29 meeting in Baku in November. Whilst it was recognised that the nexus between Climate Change Peace and Security was now widely recognised internationally, inserting this in the COP process remained an issue under discussion. During the meeting three aspects of the Climate Change, Peace and Security agenda were highlighted, namely water scarcity; food insecurity; and landmine contamination and environmental degradation resulting from conflict. Participants called on the State Parties to the Climate Convention meeting in the context of COP29 to ensure proper discussion and action on these themes that affect millions of people and thousands of communities across the world. In his concluding remarks at the end of the dialogue meeting, HE Ambassador Elshad Iskanderov, advisor to the COP 29 presidency, said that Azerbaijan was positive to the idea of having Climate Change Peace and Security as a theme at COP29. Ambassador Iskanderov reminded that the decision to hold COP29 in Baku was taken unanimously, and was an unprecedented confidence-building measure in the context of the South Caucasus.  Azerbaijan wanted to build on what had already been achieved in Dubai. He said that these decisions did not depend on Azerbaijan alone since COP was a multilateral process where the 198 state parties had the final say. Ambassador Iskanderov underlined the readiness of the Azerbaijani COP29 presidency to continue the dialogue on this issue with academia, think tanks and civil society as the preparations for COP 29 progress. He highlighted the fact that the discussion needs to focus not only on the potential that climate change will fuel more conflict and insecurity, but also on the impact of conflicts on climate change and environmental degradation Concluding the Bonn Dialogue Meeting, Dr Dennis Sammut, Director of LINKS Europe Foundation, who together with Candid Foundation and ReStart Initiative hosted the Bonn event, said that a lot of work needs to be done between now and November, and particularly the dialogue with the COP Troika countries, the UN Climate Secretariat and interested state parties needs to be continued and intensified. As a concrete step, LINKS Europe will set up an ad hoc working group with other interested non-state actors, to ensure that the conversation continues, and tangible results are achieved.

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Editor's choice
Editorial
Editorial: COP29 in Baku needs to be also a summit of peace

Editorial: COP29 in Baku needs to be also a summit of peace

The nexus between “climate change, peace and security” has been at the centre of attention for many years. It is not only about how climate change is exacerbating environmental conditions, increasing the prospects for conflict on owning and sharing resources, and accentuating already existing problems, such as for example water shortage in the Sahel, but it is also about how conflicts are contributing directly to a worsening environmental situation, increasing the gravity of climate change. With major climatic incidents now a regular occurrence across the world, and from which no one is spared, minds have recently become more focused. At COP28 in Dubai in December 2023, the UAE took the initiative to bring the discussion within a COP context. Here again, there was no consensus, with Russia, China and some of the countries in the Global South resisting, But the UAE persisted, and found a way through which they could do three things: insert the theme in the proceedings of COP28; establish a dedicated day during the COP summit where the focus was peace, and push for the adoption, even if not by consensus of the “COP28 declaration on Climate, Relief, Recovery and Peace“. This was a big achievement, but only a start. It is clear that what was achieved in Dubai needs to be consolidated and developed in Baku in November 2024. The Azerbaijan government, host of COP29 was initially reluctant to go too far in the inclusion of the peace agenda in COP29 but they have now warmed up to the idea. Over the weekend, the Presidential Foreign Policy Advisor, Hikmet Haciyev, spoke about the possibility of having a COP truce during the Baku summit. There are more than a hundred ongoing armed conflicts in the world. Securing a cease-fire in even one of them would be positive and welcome, but may be very difficult to achieve. A COP29 cease-fire may be an aspiration, but the focus should be on more tangible objectives, and particularly on building on what has been already achieved in COP28 This can include: Having the theme Climate Change, Peace and Security as a theme of COP29; More specifically in Baku the focus should be on water scarcity; food insecurity and landmine contamination and the linkage between conflict and environmental degradation • Having a dedicated day of peace in the COP29 programme, with the participation of the UN Secretary-General, and a gathering of Nobel Peace Price winners • Adopting a new declaration, building on the one agreed in Dubai in November, which would also have the possibility of signatories presenting packages that could be practical tools for moving forward some of the ideas contained in it. All this is doable. There are then other issues on which work needs to be done, but which are also achievable. Will COP29 be historic also because it would be the first time an Armenian leader visits Baku since the long conflict of the last three decades? Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan does not shy away from difficult decisions. He can very well see the value of this gesture, particularly since in Baku he will not only be welcomed by the leader of Azerbaijan, but by the biggest gathering of world leaders ever to gather in the South Caucasus. President Aliyev and Prime Minister Pashinyan can co-host a special event at the dedicated Peace Day. Imagine the significance of that! All the ingredients exist to make COP29 in Baku a historic summit of peace and it should not be missed. But there is much work to be done yet, and the negativity of the malcontents needs to be overcome.
Editor's choice
News
Bonn Dialogue Meeting calls for the theme "Climate Change, Peace and Security" to be included in the agenda of COP29

Bonn Dialogue Meeting calls for the theme "Climate Change, Peace and Security" to be included in the agenda of COP29

A dialogue meeting on the topic: “Climate Change Peace and Security – COP 29 and Beyond” was held at the Bonn University Club in Bonn, Germany, on Friday, 3 May 2024. Representatives of various state-parties to the Climate Convention and of the UN Climate Secretariat, joined participants from around 30 academic institutions, think tanks and civil society organisations to review the work done on this topic at COP28 in Dubai in December and chart a way forward for ensuring the continuation of the process at the COP29 meeting in Baku in November. At the opening session, the meeting was addressed by HE Hana al Hashemi, the United Arab Emirates COP28 Chief negotiator, HE Nigar Arpadarai, the UN High-Level Champion for COP29 in Azerbaijan, and Mr Markus Hicken, Director for Energy Foreign Policy, Climate and Security at the German Federal Foreign Office. Also speaking at the opening session was Ms Maria Paloma Noriega Jalil, representing the UN Climate Secretariat. There followed an intensive one-day of discussions on the current state of the COP process, and the on-going debate on the nexus of Climate Change, Peace and Security within the COP process. The meeting was addressed by world-class experts from leading think tanks and academic institutions, including Chatham House, the German Council on Foreign Relations, ADELPHI, the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, Heidelberg University, The Hertie School in Berlin, amongst others. The meeting positively assessed the steps taken in COP28 in Dubai in December, including the inclusion of climate change, peace and security as a theme of the meeting, the holding for the first time of a day on peace in the deliberations, and the “COP28 Declaration on Climate, Relief, Recovery and Peace”. It was felt that it was important that this momentum will not be lost, and similar actions are also included as part of the COP29 meeting in Baku in November. Whilst it was recognised that the nexus between Climate Change Peace and Security was now widely recognised internationally, inserting this in the COP process remained an issue under discussion. During the meeting three aspects of the Climate Change, Peace and Security agenda were highlighted, namely water scarcity; food insecurity; and landmine contamination and environmental degradation resulting from conflict. Participants called on the State Parties to the Climate Convention meeting in the context of COP29 to ensure proper discussion and action on these themes that affect millions of people and thousands of communities across the world. In his concluding remarks at the end of the dialogue meeting, HE Ambassador Elshad Iskanderov, advisor to the COP 29 presidency, said that Azerbaijan was positive to the idea of having Climate Change Peace and Security as a theme at COP29. Ambassador Iskanderov reminded that the decision to hold COP29 in Baku was taken unanimously, and was an unprecedented confidence-building measure in the context of the South Caucasus.  Azerbaijan wanted to build on what had already been achieved in Dubai. He said that these decisions did not depend on Azerbaijan alone since COP was a multilateral process where the 198 state parties had the final say. Ambassador Iskanderov underlined the readiness of the Azerbaijani COP29 presidency to continue the dialogue on this issue with academia, think tanks and civil society as the preparations for COP 29 progress. He highlighted the fact that the discussion needs to focus not only on the potential that climate change will fuel more conflict and insecurity, but also on the impact of conflicts on climate change and environmental degradation Concluding the Bonn Dialogue Meeting, Dr Dennis Sammut, Director of LINKS Europe Foundation, who together with Candid Foundation and ReStart Initiative hosted the Bonn event, said that a lot of work needs to be done between now and November, and particularly the dialogue with the COP Troika countries, the UN Climate Secretariat and interested state parties needs to be continued and intensified. As a concrete step, LINKS Europe will set up an ad hoc working group with other interested non-state actors, to ensure that the conversation continues, and tangible results are achieved.
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News
The carbon footprint created in the first 60 days of the war in Gaza alone surpassed the annual emissions of 20 small countries, according to a recent study

The carbon footprint created in the first 60 days of the war in Gaza alone surpassed the annual emissions of 20 small countries, according to a recent study

Whilst attention is at the moment rightly focused on the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza resulting from the Israeli assault on the territory ongoing since October, the heavy price for the environment is now also becoming obvious. Wars cause lasting damage to the environment in the form of emissions, pollutants, and the destruction of habitats. The war in Gaza has been no exception. Since the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack on southern Israel, the Gaza Strip has come under intense Israeli bombardment, pulverizing buildings, demolishing sanitation services, lacing the earth with explosive remnants, and leaving the air thick with smoke and powdered concrete. Experts say the conflict has contributed to increased air and water pollution and the degradation of ecosystems, according to a report carried by the leading Gulf English language newspaper, Arab News. According to a study conducted by Queen Mary University of London, Lancaster University, and the Climate and Community Project, the carbon footprint created in the first 60 days of the war in Gaza alone surpassed the annual emissions of 20 small countries. Published by the Social Science Research Network on Jan. 9, the paper, titled “A multitemporal snapshot of greenhouse gas emissions from the Israel-Gaza conflict,” found the impact of the war was comparable to burning at least 150,000 tonnes of coal. Much of this was generated by Israeli fighter jets during bombing raids and by armored vehicles used in the ground invasion. Other contributors were the US military, flying supplies to Israel. Less than 1 percent of the emissions were caused by Hamas rockets.  Responding to the study’s findings, Rana Hajirasouli, founder and CEO of The Surpluss, a Dubai-based global climate tech platform, told Arab News, that “this does not include indirect emissions such as energy-intensive production of military equipment, infrastructure construction, and post-conflict reconstruction efforts.” 
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Editorial
"COP28 Declaration on Climate, Relief, Recovery and Peace" lays a solid foundation for future work

"COP28 Declaration on Climate, Relief, Recovery and Peace" lays a solid foundation for future work

At the COP28 summit held in Dubai last November, for the first time a day dedicated to peace was marked, during which the "COP28 Declaration on Climate, Relief, Recovery and Peace" was launched. The declaration, endorsed by more than a hundred countries and international organisations, highlights a commitment by the international community to act on the vital impact of climate change "in situations of fragility, conflict or severe humanitarian needs". The declaration lays a solid basis for future work on the nexus between climate change, peace and security. There is an increasing need for the international community to develop a shared and enhanced understanding that climate change and environmental degradation lead to spiralling instability and conflicts, and vice versa, as well as to human suffering, resource scarcity including water and food insecurity, internal displacement and forced migration, as was stated in a recent statement by the Council of the European Union. It is now necessary, on the basis of the "COP28 Declaration on Climate, Relief, Recovery and Peace" for the international community, working with non-governmental stakeholders, to develop a road-map for future action. Work in this direction must be done ahead of the COP29 meeting in November in Baku.
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News
UAE president, Mohamed bin Zayed, in Baku for talks with Aliyev (Updated)

UAE president, Mohamed bin Zayed, in Baku for talks with Aliyev (Updated)

A high level delegation from the United Arab Emirates, led by President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, travelled to Baku on Monday afternoon (8 January) for talks with president Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan. On Tuesday, President Mohamed bin Zayed and his delegation held talks with the president of Azerbaijan and other Azerbaijani officials. The official website of the Azerbaijani president also listed a number of documents agreed by the two sides that were signed in the framework of the visit. At the start of the visit, Sheikh Mohamed laid a wreath at the tomb of Heydar Aliyev, the founder of modern Azerbaijan, as well as at the Eternal Flame monument, according to UAE state news agency, Wam. The President was accompanied by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Vice President, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Presidential Court; Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed, Ruler's Representative in Al Dhafra Region; Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad, Adviser for Special Affairs at the Presidential Court; Ali Al Shamsi, deputy secretary general of the Supreme National Security Council; Dr Anwar Gargash, diplomatic adviser to the President and former minister of state for foreign affairs; Suhail Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure; Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology; Mohamed Al Suwaidi, Minister of Investment; Ahmed Al Sayegh, Minister of State; and Mohammed Al Balushi, ambassador to Azerbaijan. President Aliyev later in the evening hosted an official dinner for the Emirati guests. No information has been released regarding the nature of the talks under discussion, but for sure Azerbaijani is keen to learn from the experience of the UAE in hosting COP28 in December, as it prepares to host COP29 in Baku later this year. COP29 will be the biggest international event ever held in the South Caucasus.