Gender Equality and Human Capital: Let's Value People, rather than their Economic Contributions

The sun has just set on day four of the IMF & World Bank Annual Meetings here with the Global Voices delegation. As usual, we have had an engaging, diverse, chaotic, exhausting, and rewarding day. Today marked International Day of the Girl. It was an incredible day to watch discussions, summits, launches and panels discussing the importance of addressing and investing in women and children, particularly girls.

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COP22: Wrap Up Week 2 (Days 7 & 8)

By Samuel Edge, Murdoch University 

Meeting with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop following Australia's recent signing of Because the Ocean declaration, blue carbon and the recent ratification of the Paris Agreement.

Meeting with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop following Australia's recent signing of Because the Ocean declaration, blue carbon and the recent ratification of the Paris Agreement.

The second week of our conference started on an elevate note, the $100 Billion target had been reviewed and agreed upon: the Warsaw Mechanism’s review had reached its conclusion. A surprise, given the expectation that talks would continue well into 2017. This was progress. Not the sort of ground shattering, earth-rendering change that the conclusion of Paris was said to be, but things were progressing.

The best ideas presented at the COP so far have tended to come from the side events – away from the politics. Following my research on Finance, I found a number of highly informative sessions held by the Parties in their respective pavilions. One such example was a talk on financing South-South Cooperation projects and the likely direction for the region, in light of current and ongoing climate talks. Included in this group were directors from the Asian Development Bank, Inter-American Development Bank and researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology, each providing a unique insight to the likely direction for development in the region, where the financing was expected to be sourced from and how public financing (from the UNFCCC Mechanisms) could assist in creating the space for private investment.

It has been interesting seeing how diplomats, civil servants and politicians appear to conduct themselves differently, with variances in style and motivation. Where the Ambassador and his/her associates will meet with stakeholders or interested parties for candid talks and light speeches, a Minister or Elected Representative will organise events for political gain and media attention. For example, many would consider gathering a number of engaged young delegates to discuss their views with various Environmental, Youth and Economic Ministers, an excellent opportunity to inform current leaders of young desires and nurture the development of future policy-makers. However, when such an event follows a script, the youth voices pre-selected from a chosen few and those who do speak are handed the microphone with reluctance, one questions the sincerity of a ‘commitment to climate change’ when those most effected have no voice.

The following day saw a number of high-level meetings of note. The first, with the CEO of 1 Million Women, Natalie Isaacs, who provided an excellent narrative on the capacity for a small change individual to enact a larger, national response. The second meeting was with Minister for the Environment and Energy, Josh Frydenberg, and his staff. Finally, my first (hopefully of many) cocktail event with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Minister Frydenberg and members of DFAT, for the various invited Australian stakeholders attending the COP and organised by the Carbon Market Institute.

Global Voices met with Minister Josh Frydenberg in Marrakech. The delegates discussed their research papers as well as Australia's recent ratification of the Paris Agreement. 

Global Voices met with Minister Josh Frydenberg in Marrakech. The delegates discussed their research papers as well as Australia's recent ratification of the Paris Agreement. 

As we've moved through the conference we've learned the ins and outs of COP22 and are beginning to more naturally offer our business cards to new and interesting people. Hopefully it will bear fruits – either way, we’ve enjoyed the ride. As we conclude this whirlwind adventure of unimaginable access and exposure to international affairs and diplomacy, I must say a massive 'Thank You' to the Global Voices team and our respective universities for creating this opportunity.

COP 22: Wrapping Up the first few days

By Samuel Edge, Sir Walter Murdoch School of Public Policy and International Affairs

COP22: Lights, camera… action?

The COP22 delegates pictured here with Janos Pasztor (Senior Advisor to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and Senior Fellow at Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs) discussing his current role examining geoengineering governance and his experiences at the United Nations.

The COP22 delegates pictured here with Janos Pasztor (Senior Advisor to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and Senior Fellow at Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs) discussing his current role examining geoengineering governance and his experiences at the United Nations.

The buzzword for COP22, ‘Action’. We entered into a new world, one brimming with hope, aspirations and questions, for the Paris Agreement had come into effect but much earlier than expected. The onus was now on the parties to ensure they were developing their respective Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), well ahead of the anticipated 2020 date set during the Paris talks of COP21.

What did this mean? Well, it meant the delegates seemed just as uncertain on a specific target or tangible objective as we were about navigating the numerous meetings, events and exhibits. Like any convention, there is a myriad of small things to see and hear yet, unlike a typical convention, many of these were only available on the day. Fortunately, we arrived with members of the Global Voices team, Matt & Riley, who not only provided an extensive list of possible events to attend but also pointed us towards the first significant meeting of the trip: Mr Nedal Katbeth-Bader, Climate Advisor from the Palestine Ministry of the Environment, who highlighted Palestine’s efforts in recent years and the difficult journey ahead for developing countries like his. Our opening days were followed by a meeting with Mr John Connor from the Climate Institute, who spoke on continuing to drive the narrative that was started last year at Paris but to be aware that the agreement was not the only point of significance.

Aside from the meetings, I took the opportunity to attend a side event of particular interest to my paper on Risk Insurance. The talk, hosted by the Munich Climate Insurance Initiative (MCII), discussed many of the points I had found researching the merits of Risk Insurance and its capacity to provide developing countries the finances and facilities to mitigate and recover from the effects of climate change. However, questions from the audience also brought to light how carefully designed such a form of adaptation must be, as countries like Malawi had been denied the sort of immediate relief after flooding because of a minor technicality on the ‘trigger’ for insurance payouts.

These key points seemed to be reflected in the growing wealth of knowledge afforded by COP veterans: action is what is now needed but there is neither one single answer nor a silver bullet for climate change. Being a part of the UNFCCC does not ensure an end to the problem and neither do any of the methods or mechanisms. However, much like our journey, this is but the beginning of a long process.