In the two years since the signing of the Paris Climate Agreement, what progress has the world made on climate change? This November in Bonn, Germany, the United Nations convened more than 20,000 stakeholders across disciplines and industries to showcase solutions, participate in formal negotiations, and answer this very question at the 23rd United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties (UNFCCC COP23).

The primary outcomes of this year’s COP include: 1) the Paris Agreement Work Programme (PAWP); 2) the Talanoa Dialogue; and 3) the Pre-2020 action and ambition. More about these and other important announcements can be found in the Global Yearbook of Climate Action 2017. Each of these developments helped to identify gaps in current low-carbon solutions – significant as stakeholders are tasked in 2018 with assessing how their collective emissions targets are impacting progress towards the 2-degree global warming limit.

Unlike ever before, non-party actors, (businesses and subnational government representatives), were invited to present best practices and lessons learned to UNFCCC negotiators. The key takeaway: rapid systemic transformation is needed across sectors and from all parts of society to change how we heat our homes, light our nights, and move our goods.

SDSN served as a key contributor to the many discussions within and alongside official COP events. Read on to learn about COP23 side events hosted in partnership with the SDSN Secretariat, as well as our national and regional networks.

Third Installment of the Low-Emissions Solutions Conference

On 13 November 2017, cities, businesses and, researchers gathered in a unique forum to discuss the at-scale implementation of low-emissions solutions. Created by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), SDSN, and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, this was the third Low-Emissions Solutions Conference (LESC) strengthening the connection between a range of climate stakeholders.

The common thread among the stakeholders: recognition that the future needs to be low-carbon. Among the participants were subnational governments and private companies, who are now committing to science-based targets, just like their national counterparts. As Peter Bakker, President and CEO of WBCSD, noted in reference to the COP motto: “The move to a low-carbon society is now inevitable, and we need to collectively work out how to do to it further, faster, together.” SDSN is especially grateful to Enel, for its support of the event. More information can be found here.

Clim-Ex: Climate Change, Extractive Industries, and Resource Efficiency

The Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI), host institution of SDSN’s Thematic Network on Good Governance of Extractive and Land Resources, participated in a COP23 event on the role of extractive industries in a decarbonized world. The event focused on the implications of “stranded” fossil fuel assets for resource-rich developing countries that currently rely on these for revenue and power generation; on the potential of resource efficiency to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and the mineral requirements associated with increasing demand for renewable energy solutions and electric vehicles. More information on the event can be found here.

Youth-led Innovation to Fight Climate Change

On 9 November 2017, SDSN Youth co-hosted the official side event Supporting Youth-Led Innovation to Confront Climate Change: Opportunities for Action. Co-organized with partner organizations CliMatesStudent Energy, and Convergences, the event brought together young innovators with established public and private stakeholders. The support of these stakeholders is essential to amplify youth ambitions and efforts towards sustainable development within governments, international organizations, and financing institutions. Read more about the event here.

Emerging Amazon Conservation Initiatives Launched at COP 23

At an event organized by the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation (FAS), SDSN Amazonia, and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), three initiatives on forest conservation were presented. One project, the Bolsa Floresta Program (PBF) toolkit, helps improve the quality of life of 40,000 inhabitants living on more than 10 million hectares of the Amazon region by decreasing deforestation by 37 percent in the assisted locations. This event, alongside many others, highlighted the vital importance of improving the management and protection of the world’s tropical forests. Read more about the event here.