NGO UNESCO Liaison committee

NGO International Conference

NGO UNESCO Liaison committee - NGO International Conference

Minutes of the working group for the preparation of the Forum NGO UNESCO on Climate Change 20 June 2017

The Forum will take place at UNESCO Headquarters on December 7 and 8 2017 and should highlight NGOs good practice on the implementation of UNESCO strategy in its action to fight against climate change. The purpose of the meeting was to define how the team will work on the preparation of the Forum. It was agreed to build upon the Final draft for an updated UNESCO Strategy for Action on Climate Change (document 201EX/5 part 1 (B)) that Peter Dogse, programme specialist within the UNECO Sciences Sector, made a presentation.

He explained that it is important to promote the interdisciplinary collaboration between UNESCO Headquarters and field offices.

Thus, since the COP 15 in 2009 (which did not succeed in making a decision), there has been a strong mobilisation on the issue of climate change. The COP 21 was a success and culminated in the Paris Agreement. UNESCO has been able to mobilise NGOs.

The Final draft for an updated UNESCO Strategy for Action on Climate Change will be submitted for approval by the 39th Session of the UNESCO General Conference (30 October -14 November 2017).

Objectives of the strategy (4 thematic Action Focus Areas):

-          supporting Member States to develop and implement climate change education and public awareness programmes ad policies

-          promoting interdisciplinary climate knowledge and scientific cooperation for climate  change mitigation and adaptation

-          promoting cultural diversity and cultural heritage safeguarding for climate change mitigation and adaptation

-          supporting inclusive social development, fostering intercultural dialogue and promoting ethical and gender mainstreaming principles in relation to climate change mitigation and adaptation

A slogan was created for this purpose: « Changing Minds, not the Climate »

It was also recalled that it is important to work with other UN agencies in particular on:

- World Heritage Sites

- Biosphere reserves

- Geological parks

It was also recalled that it is important to work with NGOs in order to facilitate its implementation (reading of the paragraph made during the meting).

COP 23 (6-17 November 2017) will take place at Bonn where challenges will be discussed. UNESCO wants to attend it and has already booked for.

Concerning the forum, Victoria, asked to see on what we already have work through an internet questionnaire. A basis has already been provided: the three themes will be divided into three parts.

We already began to think about the themes below:

- Oceans

- Indigenous peoples and cultural heritage

- Biosphere reserves

- Impact on societies

Marie-Claude recalled the theme of the group “Impact of Climate Change on Civil Society”. She proposed to work on “Education, social inclusion and solidarity for a climate justice” related to the SDG 4.7 and recalled that Ethics (rights and duties) underpin action in the fight against climate change.  It is important to try to interconnect all the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It was also recalled the global priorities of UNESCO: women, youth and Africa.

There was a question and answer session on the UNESCO strategy to Mr Dogse.

Question / Comment: (World Federation of Scientific Workers):

The Strategy proposes to assist Member States in the implementation of the Paris Agreement. How and on which?

Answer: The Paris Agreement stipulates that each country will a national plan. UNESCO will focus on this plan.

Question / Comment: (Marguerite for Pax Romana) the strategy has to involve different stakeholders. Is it your strategy to compensate for the United-States withdrawal?

Answer: the issue of the United-States withdrawal is interesting in the international debate. It is considered as unfair and raises the issue of justice.

Question / Comment: (Alain for AIEP)

The first international Conference devoted to protecting oceans held in New-York from 5 to 9 June 2017. Has UNESCO been involved?

Answer: UNESCO has been strongly involved and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO) has published an Ocean State Report. Taking into account oceans is essential for our actions.

Sabina Colombo added that the UNESCO 2001 Convention on the protection of the underwater cultural heritage has been involved in the UN Oceans Conference. She also mentioned the initiative concerning the decade for oceans that was favourably welcomed and that may be submitted for approval by the next UNESCO General Conference.

Question /Comment: (Gloria for AIEP…): Noted that the role of civil society will be more important due to the United-States withdrawal. Furthermore, the role and position of women, and gender equality should not only be regarded as goals but must transcend the proposals.

Question / Comment: (Josette for World Federation of Scientific Workers): mentioned that at least 70 countries are seriously threatened. Time is against us. We should work on reducing greenhouse gas. It is necessary to work on binding legal instruments. She also mentioned the March for Science that recently started in United-States and wants civil society to be more active.

Answer: The situation is alarming. We need civil society. It was recalled that Paris Agreement requests Member States to propose their own national plan. It was also recalled that women and gender equality are UNESCO global priorities.

Question / Comment: (Monique for International Alliance for Women) noted that in many cities, there is a Sustainable development day. For example, the city of Saint-Cloud, a specific unit is dedicated to it. A number of schools have also launched interesting initiatives that should be listed such as oceans cleaning.

Answer: The educational aspect is important for UNESCO (good practices, educational tools for youth). Furthermore, some projects dedicated to the safeguarding of culture are at risk of disappearing.

Concerning the design of the NGO – UNESCO forum on climate Change


Sabina Colombo recalled that the forum will take place at the same moment as the General Conference. This is the perfect time to give to the Forum another dimension (not just only a brainstorming meeting) and to see what kind of synergy to develop with civil society.


Genuine situation for:

- A strategy

- Adoption of an action plan

- A synergy extending UNESCO’s actions

Question / Comment: (Renée) noted that the notion of ecological transition could be defended and also noted that China would work on further changes.

Question / Comment: (Mireille) it is important to sound the alarm. With the United-Sates withdrawal, it may be appropriate to create a commission aims to oblige states to think about different possibilities, agreements and to make proposals through this forum.

Question / Comment: (Christelle): noted that the writing of a universal declaration was discussed.

Answer: The Social and Human Sciences sector of UNESCO will have a meting on climate change between 27 and 30 June. It may be appropriate to contact directly the Sector. It was also recalled that denunciation is not the purpose of the forum.

Sabina Colombo: General Conference follows the standard process and should present the strategy during the next session. Furthermore, a proposal for consultation was made in the newsletter sent to the NGOs.

Answer: These important themes have split Member States into three groups (for, against and undecided). Concerning the creation of binding instruments, we first need to identify existing instruments. Concerning China, China has been investing a lot in renewable energy.

Question / Comment: How do we ensure that NGOs are more involved?

Answer: At UNESCO, a Task force works on climate change. NGOs could be in touch with them. We should invite representatives to meetings.

Patrick Gallaud added that a web platform will be shortly created in order to give voice to NGOs.

Question / Comment: (Monique): Will we work in groups as before? It is more fruitful to meet and exchange.

Answer: (Marie-Claude, Victoria, Richard): we need both. But we have to work together. We have to involve all NGOs, including those unable to travel to Paris.

Victoria recalled the three main parts of the Forum.

Marie-Claude precised that we need to think about the third group on ethics and civil society. Danielle Levi   noted that civil justice must be taken into account, that we have to integrate the binding aspect, but we also have to take into account the incentive side and awareness.
Marie-Claude proposed to work on training and capacity building.

Concerning the organisation of the forum,

NGOs are invited to consider how organize parallel events.  The provisional budget dedicated to the forum is around 15.000/20.000 EUR. The amount currently available is 3.500 EUR. Interpretation will be in English and French. NGOs are kindly invited to provide assistance.

Josette mentioned that the debate must be opened up. How do we see the consequences? What do we want to do? Good practices must be observed.

Gloria agreed with Philippe regarding the use of new technologies such as streaming so that as many NGOs can participate in the forum.

Monique added that it is important to change the way of working. The representatives of the NGOs are asked to verify that the emails are well distributed. Martine also mentioned the Marie Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice, which it would be interesting to contact.

Claude adds that at the Forum it is important to show what is going well, what is wrong.

Philippe Beaussant: Asked NGOs what they have done through the use of the platform. Martine mentioned the Youth Conference that took place just before COP21.
Also, it would be interesting to contact them. Victoria added that it will be all the easier to contact them because many young people are from our NGOs.
A questionnaire should therefore be sent with very few and precise questions (about 3) and very precise.

Richard: Requested that a surveymonkey on the forum’s results be sent and also noted that the sectors are getting to know us. This is the result of a decade of work. It is extremely important to work closely with them. The next forums on migrants and science were mentioned. Information is relayed via newsletters that also relay information on international days. We must make a call for contributions from foundations, etc.

 The Chair closes the meeting at 4.30 pm.