COP26 was a momentous moment in 2021 and it arrived with the call to refocus international attention and resources where they are most needed – to take action on climate change. The Alliance’s goal was to promote nature as our best, fastest and most effective solution because the solutions we need are already known, and are already underway. Our biggest message was to show that action is being taken and what we now need is diverse sectors to step up and take that action from local to global.
COP26 kicked off with our first event, A New Phase for AFR100: Accelerating Africa’s Land Restoration Movement with the World Resources Institute, AFR100, The International Union for Conservation of Nature, and the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD). Joining the event were heads of states from African governments, implementers, and representatives from investors such as the Bezos Earth Fund, Green Climate Fund and the African Development Bank. Joining them was Alliance Director Karen Fawcett, and amidst investments announced by others, the Alliance announced that there would be a partnership launch of US$150million in the days to follow . The aim was to show that with diverse sectors across the world, we are taking action to scale up.
“Along with African governments, NGOs from around the world and the private sector, I am very pleased to say we are stepping up,” said Alliance Director, Karen Fawcett in her speech.
On day 6 of COP26 Alliance Ambassador, Irene Ojuok was invited to speak by the Marrakech Partnership at the Land Use Action event where she gave a powerful speech about putting communities in the “driving seat” and insisting that “empowering local communities as champions for land restoration is really fundamental”. Irene closed her speech by making a big announcement on behalf of the Global EverGreening Alliance. That announcement was that Climate Asset Management was investing $150 million dollars into the Global EverGreening Alliance’s Restore Africa Programme. This is a partnership that will help restore 2 million hectares of degraded land and improve the livelihood of 2 million small-holder farming families across six African countries.
Appearing on Sky News, Alliance Director Karen Fawcett said, “this is real action on the ground to help people”.
She was joined by Head of Natural Impact Strategy at Climate Asset Management, Martin Berg, who said, “what’s really innovative about this project is that we are using the carbon market in order to provide the upfront financing to make the necessary changes on the ground.”
As part of this announcement, a series of summits to be held in 2022 were also launched. In partnership with the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100) the summits will bring together stakeholders to develop a roadmap that will include commitments and targets for scaling up restoration, augmenting biodiversity, and improving livelihoods for rural communities.
Following the announcement, the Alliance hosted a launchpad at GLF Climate where the Global EverGreening Alliance, Climate Asset Management and AFR100 representatives took to the stage for Restore Africa: Connecting communities to the carbon market. Our launch video was premiered and was followed by a panel discussion, where audience members had the opportunity to ask questions.
On our final day at COP26, the Global EverGreening Alliance, as a partner initiative of Race to Resilience, had the opportunity to send one of our representatives into a roundtable talk with former US President Barack Obama. Ambassador Irene Ojuok represented the Alliance in a closed door discussion where he urged everyone to find simple solutions to complex challenges.
“In his parting shot, he challenged us to seek simple ways to solve the complex challenges we face in our time, reiterating that these options may look stupid but could be the best way out of this climate emergency. He also urged us to stay committed and consistent in our pursuit for a better world for all of us,” Irene reflected.
“It was extremely overwhelming and humbling to shake hands with Mr. President as I introduced myself to him and having to hear him speak Swahili and our mother tongue “Luo” made me feel really nice and proud to be Kenyan. I have always been inspired by President Barack Obama, but in the least of my expectations, I had never imagined I could even come close to him.”
As the two weeks drew to a close, meeting President Obama was a surreal experience for Irene and to have the opportunity to represent communities on the ground and the work of the Alliance was a highlight of COP26. Throughout the two weeks, we saw commitments and accountability, but it doesn’t stop there. We now have a challenging task ahead, to take action and create sustainable change. The next decade is where we write the narrative for our future generations and change the course of climate change.
Want to read more? Catch up on the Alliance’s COP26 daily blogs here.