By Amayaa Wijesinghe
(C) Creative Commons
Talanoa is a form of inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue followed in the Pacific Islands to inform better decision-making and leadership. The Talanoa Dialogue 2018 is a part of the UNFCCC process inspired by this tradition, whereby unprecedented opportunities are available for both party and non-party stakeholders to the Paris Agreement to share their stories.
2018 is considered a pivotal year for the Paris Agreement and for global climate action, because it will be the start of the momentum that needs to build for higher ambitions in terms of curbing temperature rise. The Paris Agreement calls for “stocktakes”, or progress assessments, to take place every five years, to ensure that parties (countries) turn their commitments into actions. Although the next global stocktake is scheduled for 2023, this process will start with the Talanoa Dialogue, which is an initial stocktaking exercise. This process will examine how much more needs to done in order to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement, and this will be done mainly by enhancing the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) using the learnings of the Talanoa Dialogue. The current NDCs put the globe on a trajectory that leads to a 3-degree rise in temperature by 2050, which is simply not good enough.
The Talanoa Dialogue is a significant outcome of COP23, whereby the world of negotiators and the world of observers and non-state party actors fused together, in order to have input that is more inclusive in future.
Three guiding questions form the basis of the Talanoa Dialogue:
Where are we?
Where do we want to go?
How do we get there?
Addressing these questions, party and non-party stakeholders can share their own stories of successes and challenges when it comes to climate action. There is an online portal dedicated to this task, which will be active from 2 April to 29 October. Then the Talanoa Dialogue itself will take place in May. In addition to these, throughout the year, stakeholders are invited to organize various events “in support of the Talanoa Dialogue”, in order to build the desired momentum.
In May, at the round table discussions addressing these three questions, the entire plenary will be split into three after the opening discussion, each section addressing one question. Under each question, several working groups will be formed (the exact number is yet to be determined). Each working group will have a majority representation of party stakeholders, and (for the first time), a quota set aside for non-party stakeholders to give voice to their concerns as well. These non-party stakeholders include cities, states and regions, the private sector and businesses, civil society groups, financial institutions and investors, multilateral organizations, subnational authorities, vulnerable communities (indigenous peoples, migrants, children and persons with disabilities) and international institutions.
The summaries of all working groups are to be discussed at the closing plenary, and the summary of the entire proceedings will be available online. At the end of October, the synthesis report, of both the Talanoa Dialogue in May as well as the online submissions made throughout the year, will inform the political phase of the Talanoa Dialogue, which will take place at COP24 in Poland.
The non-party stakeholders must decide which stories need to be shared immediately, and the Talanoa Dialogue (both the online platform and the sessions in May) provides an open platform for stories of resilience, adaptation and communal climate action to be shared. Political leaders will be able to give voice to these initiatives, successes and challenges at COP24. It could range from the role that children play in climate action, to an organization’s struggle to convert a city to solar energy. Many such narratives can come together, under the themes set by the three overarching questions. This is the spirit of trust, storytelling and sharing propagated by Talanoa.
The world needs to aim higher when it comes to climate action, and meeting the stipulations of the Paris Agreement. The Talanoa Dialogue will be a critical launching pad in this process.
Amayaa Wijesinghe works as a research assistant at SLYCAN Trust. She studied Biological Sciences at the Department of Zoology and Environment Sciences of the Faculty of Science, University of Colombo. Her research interests lie in the role that natural ecosystems can play in helping the planet face climate change, and is currently carrying out research on policies for adaptation and mitigation.