09 September 2018

The Talanoa Dialogue for Climate Ambition — An Opportunity to Have My Say

The United Nations 2017 climate conference (Conference of the Parties or COP23) was hosted by Fiji (though, sadly I'm sure for many attendees, it was held in Bonn, Germany). 

A lasting keepsake of the Fiji talks is the Talanoa Dialogues, to which I contributed yesterday.

Talanoa is a traditional word used in Fiji and across the Pacific to reflect a process of inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue. The purpose of Talanoa is to share stories, build empathy and to make wise decisions for the collective good. The process of Talanoa involves the sharing of ideas, skills and experience through storytelling.

The goal of the Talanoa Dialogue is to help implement and increase ambition in each nation's commitments to emissions reductions and other climate action (their Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs) by asking stakeholders to answer three questions:

  1. Where are we?
  2. Where do we want to go?
  3. How do we get there?
I responded to the first question on behalf of GreenHeart Education (my professional me), and would like to share it with you here. The Dialogue is open for submissions until 29 October 2018, so that input can be compiled before the next UN climate change talks in Katowice, Poland in early December. Go for it if your organization has got something to say!

By the way, you'll see why I laughed at my captcha ("school") when you read my contribution. 

--> Question 1: Where are we?

a) The commitment (planned and/or announced) as well as the actions taken so far that are in line with aims of Paris Agreement, the 1.5/2 degrees’ goal and the transition towards a net-zero emission society by this mid-century [Maximum 300 words]

Where we are is in a climate change emergency, but one we refuse to acknowledge. Where we are is still talking all sorts of numbers when the only number that counts is ZERO – zero carbon, zero combustion, zero emissions of greenhouse gases. Where we are is the poor and the vulnerable being hit by climate diasters first and worst. 

Where we are is smack in the middle of a crisis of imagination and empathy – only compassion and innovation can save us now, but it seems they’re in short supply. Where we are – but we just don’t know it yet – is in the most exciting time ever to be a human being: at the very start of a huge global race to ZERO … or bust. And luckily, because developing countries perhaps aren’t as (politically) entrenched in fossil fuel energy as the so-called developed nations, they all have a headstart in the race to ZERO.

b) Progress made so far against the above commitments, including success stories, case studies and gaps [Maximum 300 words]

Sadly, in many educational circles, climate change is still seen as controversial (thanks to the highly funded and highly successful denial campaign), and therefore barely gets taught. Because human beings have evolved over the last 10,000 into a species dependent on agriculture, and because agriculture depends on a stable climate (which we’ve mostly had for the past 10,000 years), the impacts of a destabilizing climate are threatening food security around the world. 

The Most Important Curriculum
We cannot grow food overnight and nor can we LEARN to grow food overnight, therefore learning food growing skills must become an important part of every school’s curriculum (along with soil building, water collections, and energy generation). While literacy and numeracy will always be part of education, they are of no importance to people who are starving. 

This is one area where we are seeing progress around the world, although we still have far to go. The spread of permaculture, agroforestry, carbon farming, and organic and regenerative agriculture is helping to build resilience in food
systems while we work toward ZERO

greenhouse gas emissions.

c) Quantitative impact so far with respect to mitigation, adaptation, resilience and/or finance [Maximum 300 words]

I’m sorry I don’t have numbers to share. But perhaps this is where 100% (the opposite of zero) should come in, in the form of a global goal to get a learning garden into every schoolyard around the world.

I just received this message re my input:

On 2018-09-12 06:12, Talanoa Dialogue wrote:

Dear Sir/Madam, 

Thank you for your message. In order to inform the Talanoa Dialogue, the COP president invited Parties and stakeholders to the Convention on Climate Change as well as expert institutions to submit input.

We regret to inform you that we cannot publish inputs by individuals.

We would encourage you to affiliate yourself with a non-Party stakeholder to the Convention for submitting your input.

Best regards, 

Talanoa Dialogue Team 

Here's the response I sent:

I'm sorry to hear that you don't consider GreenHeart Education an "expert institution." However, I do appreciate you letting me know. (I'm not sure how far you'll get in the fight to safeguard the future by only listening to those who haven't yet managed to safeguard the future. But there's the conundrum.)

Julie Johnston
GreenHeart Education

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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?