No topic is receiving more global attention in this century, so far, than sustainability, or how we as more than 7 billion people in this planet can balance our future needs, with energy security and climate action. This could mainly be because we are the fortunate generations- the most learned, connected and technologically advanced generations that walked the earth, with a younger generation that is making it clear that they are aware that the traditional way we have been consuming the earth’s resources needs improvement. One way nations have been working on turning this common goal into collective action is through global gatherings dedicated to the future of energy and climate.
The Sultanate of Oman has been active in participating in United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC’s climate summits and conferences. The UNFCCC is the leading organization for the global climate conferences such COP26 in Glasgow, United Kingdom and the upcoming COP27 in Egypt and COP28 in the United Arab Emirates. Recently, during the period March 28-31, the Sultanate participated in the Middle East North Africa Climate Week- MENA CW strategically hosted in our region, in Dubai, by the Government of the UAE. In this conference, hundreds of experts and you’re the representatives from the public, private, and civil society sectors debated and negotiated over bottlenecks where agreements need to be reached in areas such as: Climate finance, Sustainability Development Goals or SDGs, climate technology and innovation, resilience and adaptation in addition to youth and gender issues.
While gathering in this conference was positive progress in the roadmap towards agreeing on the Paris Agreement climate action goals, such as having the world’s Green House Gas or GHG emissions by 2030 it left more to be desired. First, while climate finance has been recognized as one of the most significant means by which our nations will be able to achieve their Nationally Determined Contributions not more than five global financial and banking institutions offered any initiatives in this regard, with only the World Bank Group- WBG and HSBC taking to the stage to share about the climate finance products. Second, while innovation, diversity, and inclusion are among the main topics few concrete alliances were operationalized that are led by youth or by cross-sector groups. Moreover, leveraging emerging climate technologies such as carbon removal could have received more attention given the breakthroughs in these technologies over the past decade.
As the conclusion of this conference declared “the window for climate action has not yet closed”. We have a responsibility to embark on a paradigm shift and leverage international gatherings in a way that engages our most significant stakeholders- our youth. Youth are more impressed with down to earth, authentic and original initiatives and ideas that are designed with them in mind than by costly and cumbersome global events that produce more talking points. May the rest of this decade not only be a time for “building back better”, but also the time for building forward better.