COP28: A Pivotal Moment for Climate Justice Advocacy - Unveiling Global Challenges and Local Realities

COP28: A Pivotal Moment for Climate Justice Advocacy - Unveiling Global Challenges and Local Realities

BY Hamira Kobusingye
09 / 04 / 2024
Image credit: Hamira Kobusingye

Beginning a journey of climate justice advocacy typically entails negotiating uncertainty, hardships, and times of tremendous development. In this blog, I recount my experiences leading up to, during, and after COP28, emphasizing the importance of joint efforts, personal empowerment, and global reality in the battle against climate change. From the learning curve of the New Generation Programme to the highs and lows of the Dubai convention, this reflection captures the spirit of resilience and urgency that drives the communal effort to achieve a sustainable future. Join me as we explore the complexities of climate advocacy, revealing both the accomplishments and the setbacks experienced on the journey to climate justice.

Discovering Support through the New Generation Program

I first learned about the New Generation Program during a meeting with Bread for the World, where Mrs. Sabina recommended that I apply for the opportunity. Initially, I was apprehensive and unsure of what to expect, considering that I am largely self-taught and often have to sift through misinformation on the internet. However, upon being accepted into the program, it felt like I had suddenly gained a supportive family. Information became readily available, and we were well-prepared as young negotiators.

This preparation significantly enhanced my activism, and at COP28, I found myself asking pertinent questions during bilateral meetings rather than simply demanding generic progress. Whenever I encountered challenges, my peer mentor, Adeline Cyuzuzo, my mentor, Camilla More, and the team from the New Generation Program were readily available to assist me. We received regular updates on negotiation progress, which served as both encouragement and a roadmap for how I could contribute, even when I wasn't in the negotiation room but rather participating in panels and bilateral meetings where I could voice my opinions.

It's worth noting that due to having a party overflow badge, I couldn't always contribute during negotiations. Attending COP28 in Dubai was not just about participating in global climate negotiations; it was a journey of growth and empowerment, made possible by the invaluable support of the New Generation Program and partners like Bread for the World. This blog aims to provide insights into my experiences at COP28 and reflect on the outcomes observed.

My experiences at COP 28

COP28 showcased collaboration, youth-driven advocacy, and Climate Justice Africa's unyielding commitment. The momentum generated offers hope for a climate-positive trajectory towards COP29. However, The Dubai convention brought mixed emotions. While a  Loss and Damage fund was established—a significant win—funding fell short. Major polluters contributed minimally, and Global North withdrawals from the adaptation basket hindered Global South development.

The inability of COP28 to prioritize a just transition to renewable energy was particularly concerning given the importance of this transition to the Loss and Damage Fund's success. Neglecting interconnected climate issues risks compounding future challenges, emphasizing the critical need for a shift in focus to sustainable, long-term solutions. The phasing out of fossil fuels is central to this effort, setting the path for an environmentally sustainable and socially just future.

Urgent Call to Action

COP28 showcased the effectiveness of collaborative efforts and youth-driven advocacy in propelling climate justice forward. Looking ahead to COP29, it is crucial to capitalize on the momentum gained and prioritize a just transition to renewable energy. The time for substantial change is upon us, necessitating unified action from all stakeholders. Over the next nine months, significant strides must be made. The Santiago Network for Loss and Damage (SNLD) must play a pivotal role by offering essential technical support to address on-the-ground needs, requiring full funding to carry out its mission effectively.

Furthermore, there is an urgent need to mobilize appropriate global funding to address loss and damage, including strengthening the Loss and Damage Fund. Establishing a distinct sub-goal for Loss and Damage under the New Collective Quantified Goal on Climate Finance is critical to this effort. Developed countries must lead the way and keep their promises by stepping up to provide essential assistance to developing countries and those most vulnerable to climate impacts. We can work collectively to build a more sustainable and resilient future for all through offering comprehensive support on all fronts.

Hamira Kobusingye, a Ugandan climate justice activist and founder of Climate Justice Africa, is a key figure in advocating for sustainable development and gender equality in the climate change space. She focuses on the disproportionate impact of climate change on women, especially in frontline communities. Hamira leverages her strong social media presence to foster discussions on climate change and action. Her initiatives include skill-sharing programs empowering women climate activists and promoting eco-friendly briquettes in Uganda, creating sustainable incomes and reducing fossil fuel reliance. She also leads educational campaigns on climate impacts and advocates for issues like loss and damage, and climate debt. Hamira's efforts have gained international recognition, amplifying African voices in the climate crisis.