Macron's Paris Peace Forum to tackle global climate issues with an eye on Cop28

France says it wants to show that international co-operation continues despite conflicts

The Nordenskiold glacier melting, near Pyramiden, in Svalbard, Norway. There will be a special focus  on the world's fast-melting glaciers and ice sheets at the Paris forum.  AFP
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Global leaders gathered in Paris on Friday to kick-start the sixth edition of the Paris Peace Forum, a two-day gathering that aims to tackle the root causes of global challenges including climate change, carbon market reform and preventing online hate speech.

In his opening speech, French President Emmanuel Macron said that he wants to consolidate initiatives launched in the past year, which include a new global financing pact launched in June in Paris, with an eye on the coming Cop28 summit, which will take place between November 30 and December 30 in Dubai.

The global financing pact represents “a real evolution in practice and in volume of our collective investment”, said Mr Macron. “I took the commitment to follow-up and here we are.”

The Paris summit is however overshadowed by world conflicts, including the Israel-Hamas war which was the subject of a meeting on the sidelines of the forum on Thursday. The rise in tensions was highlighted by Pope Francis in a message read by the Apostolic Nuncio to France, Celestino Migliore.

“This year, the forum is being held in an extremely painful global context as we helplessly witness the multiplication of armed conflicts with their procession of sometimes irreversible suffering and injustice,” the Pope said in his message. “Peace is not built with weapons, but through patient listening, dialogue and co-operation.”

The aim of the annual forum, which was launched in 2018 by Mr Macron, is to “avoid future crisis” with “more international solidarity and co-operation,” an Elysee adviser said in the lead up to the meeting.

There will be a special focus on the world's fast-melting glaciers and ice sheets and the ensuing rise in sea level, which is expected to affect up to a billion people globally.

The expected disappearance of two thirds of the world's glaciers by 2100 will have major effect on access to drinkable water, said another Elysee adviser.

Scientific experts convened by Mr Macron have been working on the topic for the past three days before a high-level meeting on Friday that includes the French President and Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store, who leads intergovernmental forum the Arctic Council.

Representatives from other affected countries including Nepal, Kirghizistan, China, and India, will also be present.

But one of the world's most prominent Arctic states, Russia, is absent from the forum due to its full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year. This has raised questions about successful scientific co-operation on climate change in the world's arctic regions.

“Russia is not present for the simple reason that it is difficult for us to co-operate with a country that invaded Ukraine,” said the second Elysee source.

“But this is not something that will stop other countries from co-operating. Russia has not been a party to the Arctic Council for some time for the same reasons.

“Our strategy is also to send clear signals, that is to say that we will not let Russia take us hostage."

Updated: November 10, 2023, 11:13 AM