Cop28 will show world how to move from promises to action on climate, says expert

Nickolay Mladenov, director general of the Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy, anticipates valuable partnerships at global conference under UAE presidency

Nickolay Mladenov is the director general of the Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy. Khushnum Bhandari / The National
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Cop28 will be a global stage for the UAE to show its commitment to help lead the way in advancing the climate agenda, said a former envoy and head of a leading diplomatic academy.

Nickolay Mladenov, director general of the Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy, said action would be a focus at the Cop28 UN climate change conference, which promises to be the most inclusive yet.

“The approach the UAE is taking with Cop28 is to make it as inclusive as possible, to allow many different voices to be heard, whether from industry or indigenous people and to focus on the partnerships that emerge from outside diplomatic negotiations,” Mr Mladenov told The National this week after the launch of a centre for climate diplomacy in Abu Dhabi.

“It is these partnerships that will contribute to our effort to save the planet.”

Nickolay Mladenov, director general of the Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy, says the UAE will make Cop28 an inclusive event. Ruel Pableo for The National

The climate conference in Dubai later this year will include indigenous people, climate advocates, start-ups, youth and local leaders as well as policymakers and heads of governments.

“It is important to note that the UAE is no longer just a bridge builder but a partner and a contributor,” he said, regarding the Emirates' role in forging alliances in food security, transport, infrastructure and sustainability.

“We need to get outside of the negotiations and we need to see partnerships emerge at Cop28 that actually bring governments, industries and civil societies together in different configuration over specific initiatives that will be implemented quickly and effectively to tackle the effects of the rising temperatures.”

Bringing people and countries closer

He spoke of the UAE recognising the voice of developing countries that form the Global South.

“The biggest challenge will be to move from words to action and that means we need to see specific amounts and procedures put in place for loss and damage for countries that are less developed,” Mr Mladenov said.

“We need to see changes in how international financial institutions work in order to take on board the challenges of climate change much more actively.”

The loss and damage fund was a historic commitment at the Egypt Cop27 summit agreed on by richer countries to help developing countries recover from the economic losses caused by climate-related natural disasters, from severe floods to drought. The amount countries will get, and by when, is yet to be decided.

Dr Sultan Al Jaber, President-designate of Cop28, at a launch event this year at Al Wasl Plaza at Expo City Dubai, where the conference is to take place this year. Pawan Singh / The National

The conference is an opportunity to bring people together, Mr Mladenov said.

“There are many dividing lines in this world we live in, and this is an opportunity to reach beyond those lines and bring everyone together over a common agenda,” he said.

“[We need] to be able to bridge the gaps between different sectors of society, different industries, countries, the North and the South.

“If we are not inclusive and if we are not specific in what we are announcing and committing to we will be failing at our task.”

His words echo the words of Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Cop28 President-designate, who has pledged a “Cop of solidarity” that will be transformational.

Ambitious engagements

Mr Mladenov was hopeful of further collaborations at Cop28 given the UAE's history of multilateral partnerships.

“Firstly I’m hopeful because this country is very ambitious in the goals that it sets not just for itself but for the Cop presidency,” said Mr Mladenov, who was formerly undersecretary general of the UN and foreign and defence minister of Bulgaria.

“The unique announcement of the India-Middle East-Europe corridor at the G20 would not have been possible without the efforts of this country.

“It would not be possible without the vision and the courage that the UAE had in signing the Abraham Accords, in establishing the I2U2 partnership between India, the UAE, Israel and the United States.

“That is the type of engagement we want to see when it comes to climate change.”

This was in reference to the pivotal role the UAE played in the India-Middle East-Europe economic corridor announced at the G20 in New Delhi recently.

US President Biden thanked UAE President Sheikh Mohamed for his role in securing the milestone rail and ports deal linking the Middle East, South Asia and Europe.

The UAE is also part of the I2U2 grouping with the US, Israel and India working on tie-ups in infrastructure, maritime security and food security.

The landmark Abraham Accords signed in 2020 by the UAE, Bahrain and Israel opened up co-operation in trade, health and tourism.

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Updated: September 15, 2023, 9:47 AM