Action For Climate Empowerment: New Drive For Society-Wide Climate Action

UN Climate Change News, 10 May 2021 – A new project to empower all members of society to engage in climate action, particularly non-Party stakeholders such as youth or gender-based stakeholders, has been launched by a partnership led by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Climate Action.

The Action for Climate Empowerment Innovation Project (ACEAT) initiative intends to raise the visibility of non-Party stakeholders’ efforts, as well as to empower all members of society to engage in meaningful climate action. To this end, the project will serve as a strategic space to share knowledge and visions about how to best address climate change across all of society. It currently has thematic focus areas on youth, gender, and climate action in African countries.

Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) youth constituency focal points, Heeta Lakhani and Marie Claire Graf, welcomed the initiative, highlighting that ‘young people are really driving the change’ and that climate action is ‘impossible without engaging everyone’.

Under the Paris Agreement, ACE refers to climate change education, training, public awareness, public access to information, public participation, and international cooperation on these issues, with children and youth a cross-cutting focus. The implementation of all six elements is essential for achieving the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global average temperature increase to 1.5C by the end of the century. Yet, the benefits that ACE brings to climate action are not necessarily widely understood or valued.

The new ACEAT project, launched at a recent multi-stakeholder dialog event Stepping Up Action for Climate Empowerment, aims to counter this by strengthening ACE beyond the negotiating process to empower all members of society, specifically non-Party stakeholders, to engage in climate action. The project is funded by Austria and will be implemented in partnership with UN Climate Change, alongside ECOS, IAAI, and ICLEI.

With the understanding that social networking, knowledge management, access to technology, capacity building and resource mobilisation are vital for society-wide climate action, the project has planned multiple virtual webinars and meetings on these themes throughout the summer, details of which can be found here.

In delivering her key messages at the launch event, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa highlighted that the ‘toolbox that ACE offers’ is essential in driving momentum on climate action, drawing attention to the need for all citizens to be ‘equipped and empowered to drive the transition to low-carbon, just, and climate-resilient societies’.

Also speaking at the event, Austrian Minister for Climate Action Leonore Gewessler highlighted the importance of informed, empowered citizens and strong collaboration to move towards a ‘climate-resilient and climate-neutral society’, and how ACEAT aimed to deliver this.

Andrés Landerretche, Chilean Presidency Coordinator of the 2019 climate change conference (COP25), remarked that due to the COVID-19 Pandemic and the use of technologies to connect, ‘2020 inadvertently became the year of ACE’ and acknowledged the need for ‘wide ranging engagement and consultation with civil society, academia, the private sector’ and many other areas for the development of any climate strategy. Chile will unveil its national strategy for ACE for public consultation this year, and Mr. Landerretche cited the importance of public participation in this process. Ghanaian Minister for Environment Kwaku Afriyie reinforced the importance of ACE in accelerating climate action.

Salka Sigurdardottir of the in-coming UK COP26 Presidency provided closing reflections, reinstating how ACE is ‘essential for delivering on climate commitments of the Paris Agreement and the UNFCCC’, and looking forward to COP26 and the creation of a new work programme for ACE.

A diverse range of stakeholders were represented at Stepping Up Action for Climate Empowerment, with panelists from NGOs such as Citizen’s Climate International, Global Youth Development Initiative and Earth Day. Climate educators representing the Education, Communication, and Outreach Stakeholder Community (ECOS) highlighted the importance of climate education for all of society. Representatives from the United States, Italy, Chile, the Dominican Republic, South Africa and the Maldives ensured an inclusive dialogue considering ACE in both Global North and South contexts.

The Stepping Up Action for Climate Empowerment event was streamed on the UNFCCC YouTube channel, alongside the Facebook pages and YouTube channels of the co-organisers and can be viewed here.

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