Non-State Climate Actors World Summit Provides Platform for Concrete Engagement

The Climate Chance Summit, the first meeting of its kind, specifically focused on non-state actors’ contributions to greenhouse gas emission (GHG) reductions and adaptation to climate change, was held on 26-28 September in Nantes, France. Among the 3,000 participants were city governments, sub-national governments, NGOs, the private sector, and universities.

During the three-day summit, a major focus of discussion was the role non-state actors can play in supporting their country’s contributions to the upcoming COP22 climate change talks in Marrakesh, Morocco, and how cities could contribute to low carbon development initiatives emerging out of HABITAT III in Quito, Ecuador.

Ségolène Royal, President of COP21 and French Minister of the Environment, together with governmental officials of the city of Nantes and Morocco as well as David Nabarro, Special Adviser of the UN Secretary-General on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development held opening speeches at the event.

Betsan Martin from RCE Waikato in New Zealand coordinated the organization of the workshop “Leaders in Transformative Education: practices for sectoral and thematic integration” on the  RCE model for multi-stakeholder engagement around Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) as it relates to climate change. The RCE concept was showcased as a model for non-state actors to initiate climate change education programmes on low carbon development and lifestyles. RCE Iskandar, Malaysia and RCE Skåne, Sweden co-designed the workshop.

The presentations of this workshop are summarized below:

  1. Introduction of the global RCE Network as a multistakeholder model for ESD and as a networking ground for different actors – Philip Vaugher, Researcher, UNU-IAS, ESD Programme
  2. Curriculum development and teacher education in South Africa under the challenges associated with ESD – Shepherd Urunje, SWEDESD
  3. Multi-stakeholder consultation as a way to tackle climate change and to facilitate learning of different actors – Adrian Macey, Victoria University, New Zealand
  4. Low carbon education initiatives with city and state governments and the concept of Eco-Schools, Irina Safitri Zen, RCE Iskandar
  5. How a city government supplies learning spaces and education programmes on climate change for youth, students and citizens - Monika Månsson, RCE Skåne
  6. Meaningful change requires the engagement of all actors, including indigenous people.  There is a need to transform the structure of education - Betsan Martin, RCE Waikato
  7. How multi-stakeholder learning and governance around water connects to climate change - Grace Leung, Wellington Regional Government

Many of the other workshops focused on how non-state actors, with great emphasis on cities, could simultaneously tackle other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by engaging with low carbon development initiatives. Most non-state actors that participated in the conference were from Europe and Africa, with a few representatives from Asia, the Americas, and the Pacific region.

“We would recommend that RCEs engage with municipal governments, whenever possible if they are not already doing so, given the tremendous amount of reach many municipal governments have for their citizens,” said Philip Vaughter. “Multi-stakeholder networks such as RCEs could be used as a platform to tackle some of these challenges, with actors from different sectors learning from each other in a region.”

Another highlight of the summit was the panel discussion on city to city cooperation chaired by Christopher Doll (UNU-IAS). Phil Vaughter, UNU-IAS spoke on city to city learning, and how the RCE model could facilitate such an activity.

After the workshops, participants discussed, in smaller groups, what challenges they faced in implementing climate change education in their regions, focusing on both formal and non-formal education sectors. Common challenges identified were (1) teachers were expected to augment an already over-crowded curriculum with climate literacy programmes, (2) city governments should use the correct communication channels to educate on climate friendly behavior, and (3) the focus on knowledge as opposed to action in climate change education.

The local-global connection was made through the plenary sessions with references to climate change issues within the Sustainable Development Goals, paralleling the work of many RCEs with the SDGs.

Further documents of interest:

Nantes Declaration: Strengthening concrete action to bridge the gap between current commitments and the objectives of the Paris Agreement