Youth Climate Action Summit & Expert Group Meeting for Beijing +25

A Paradigm Shift for the United Nations: from Negotiations to Action Summits

Last week, Betty Barkha, PhD candidate at Monash GPS, attended the first United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York, along with youth and world leaders. The summit was a call by the UN Secretary General, António Guterres for world leaders to come with concrete, realistic plans to enhance their nationally determined contributions by 2020, in line with reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent over the next decade, and to net zero emissions by 2050.

“This is not a climate talk summit. We have had enough talk, this is not a climate negotiation summit. You don’t negotiate with nature. This is a climate action summit."

- UN Secretary General, António Guterres

The Summit brought together governments, the private sector, civil society, local authorities and other international organisations to develop ambitious solutions in the following areas:

  • A global transition to renewable energy;
  • Sustainable and resilient infrastructures and cities;
  • Sustainable agriculture and management of forests and oceans;
  • Resilience and adaptation to climate impacts; and
  • Alignment of public and private finance with a net zero economy.

Following massive rallies around the world for climate action on 20 September, young people highlighted plans to mobilise and accelerate action ahead of the Climate Action Summit. The Youth Climate Action Summit on 21 September provided a platform for young leaders to showcase their solutions and meaningfully engage with decision-makers prior to the global leaders summit. It was a monumental moment for young people, as 1000+ youth gathered for the first and biggest gathering in the United Nations dedicated for young people and their #ClimateAction.

The climate summit was a chance for all present in New York or not, to reflect and recommit to commitments that could accelerate action in this time of climate crisis. It was also an opportunity to reflect on our role in this ecosystem of change. In our collective efforts of resistance, we needed opportunities to persistently reimagine and meaningfully engage in reformation processes that would impact future action.

And while there was much to celebrate at the action summit, there were still narratives that were traditionally unchallenged. As thousands marched one side of New York, thousands more came up online in an attempt to undermine efforts of a young climate activist; and as many from affected communities entered the privileged space of the UNHQ to voice their challenges and concerns, their plea for action remain unheard by leaders of the largest emitting nations.

To read further about the Summit:

Expert Group Meeting (EGM) in preparation for Beijing +25 anniversary in 2020

Professor Jacqui True, Director of Monash GPS Centre, took part in an Expert Group Meeting (EGM) in preparation for Beijing +25 anniversary in 2020, which aims to produce an expert report and inform the Secretary General's report on Beijing +25 and the themes of the Commission of the Status of Women in March 2020.

The EGM’s objective was to assess what has changed over the last 25 years in the pursuit of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, and women’s and girls’ human rights, and how those changes are impacting on future prospects for achieving the objectives of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA) and the SDGs from a gender perspective. To this end, it focused on four cross-cutting themes:

  • Democratic backsliding and backlash against women’s rights
  • Gender equality implications of the digital revolution
  • Gender equality and generational perspectives: young women in the struggle for economic, social and climate justice
  • The future of the peace, security and humanitarian agenda from a gender perspective

The concept note can be viewed here.

Prof. True contributed to the fourth theme and her expert paper "The Women, Peace and Security Agenda 25 years After Beijing: What Difference Could a Feminist Political Economy Perspective Make?" along with Anne Marie Goetz, Madeleine Rees and Hana Tabbara can be viewed online. The EGM report will be published by the end of November and the Secretary General's report in February 2020.

Prof. True also attended the Launch of the Global Alliance of Regional Networks of Women Mediators at the United Nations. This event was supported by PRIO Centre on GPS (Norway) amongst others. The Indonesian Foreign Minister, Retno Marsudi, spoke along with foreign ministers from Algeria, Argentina, Italy, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, UK and USA, as well as several experienced women and men mediators from around the world.