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Why we need diverse voices to speak up about climate change at COP27

24 October 2022

ICE member Blessing Danha explains why we need to hear from diverse voices at COP27.

Why we need diverse voices to speak up about climate change at COP27
COP27 is taking place in Egypt this year. Image credit: Shutterstock

It's less than a few weeks to COP27, the climate change conference which is being hosted in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in November 2022.

I’d like to share, as an engineer with African roots, why I am excited about this upcoming conference, and some of my hopes for it.

1. We need to hear the voices of Africa’s young

Voices like climate activist Vanessa Nakate, who has been as vocal as Greta Thunberg on issues relating to climate justice.

Africa has the world’s youngest population, and the young are more exposed to their lives being devastated by climate change than those of us sadly now a bit older (not necessarily wiser!).

COP27 being held in Africa is an opportunity for us to hear from Africa’s young minds and understand some of their country specific challenges, and learn from them.

2. We need to shift towards climate justice

Traditionally, developed nations, who are the major polluters, have had the biggest platforms and voices in the climate change space.

Despite accounting for the smallest share of global greenhouse gas emissions, at just 3.8%, the African continent is increasingly experiencing the effects of climate change as highlighted in the State of the Climate in Africa 2019 report.

Shifting towards climate justice, where people and communities most vulnerable to climate impacts are at the heart of the discussion and solutions in Egypt would be a step change in the right direction.

And we need developed nations who are disproportionately responsible for global warming to date, to shoulder a large share of the costs.

3. We need new thinking

We have seen many changes in the world in the 11 months since COP26: Russia’s war in Ukraine, turmoil in global markets, and energy insecurity in Europe to name but a few.

This has put pressure on some of the climate commitments in the pacts from COP26, as nations and organisations shift priorities.

Dealing with the fallout from the unpicking of some of the commitments requires new thinking, imagination, and co-operation.

This can only be achieved by having as many diverse voices around the table as possible with representation from developing nations.

4. We need to lean into opportunities on the African continent

The African continent can be a catalyst for innovation.

Africa does not suffer from being burdened by legacy systems and infrastructure so does not have the same issues associated with retrofitting green technologies.

Therefore, it presents multiple opportunities for more agile and innovative solutions that are not always possible elsewhere.

This is exciting for its 54 countries and a growing population of 1.4 billion!

It presents opportunities for climate leaders to work with African engineers, technologist, and scientists towards a range of climate change solutions.

I look forward to seeing commitments that are stretching, ambitious and inclusive coming out of Egypt next month.

ICE at COP27

ICE will be at COP27 as a founding partner the International Coalition for Sustainable Infrastructure (ICSI).

ICSI will be hosting some panels at the climate change conference, including:

    • Addressing innovation barriers in energy and mobility entrepreneurship | 15 November, 14:00–15:00 (GMT+2)
    • (With Build Change) Tackling cascading risks, losses, and damages in heavily interconnected systems | 15 November, 15:30-16:30 (GMT+2)
    • (With Conservation International) From gray to green: integrating nature-based solutions in the infrastructure lifecycle | 16 November, 17:00-18:00 (GMT+2)
    • Engineering the vision for climate resilient transport | 16 November, 10:30-12:00 local time, 8:30-10:00 GMT

Register now

  • Blessing Danha, senior director at Ankura