What is COP27, and why is it important?

COP27 (the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference) is the 27th annual United Nations Climate Change Conference, and will take place between the 6th and 18th November 2022 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. The annual COP conferences are where key decisions regarding global climate goals are made, with governments and other key stakeholders coming together to set targets. 

Last year’s COP26 in Glasgow was met with criticism for its lack of stronger commitments to reducing emissions and a failure to agree loss and damage financing for countries that are most vulnerable to climate change, which are disproportionately impacting low and middle income countries such as Afghanistan. 

What does COP27 hope to achieve?

This year, the conference will focus on:

  • Mitigation: strengthening country's individual pledges to avoid and reduce greenhouse emissions to ensure warming does not exceed 1.5°C;
  • Adaptation: helping vulnerable communities to increase their resilience to the impacts of the climate crisis alongside other efforts in sustainable development.
  • The importance of finance for progress, specifically financing for adaptation and "loss and damage" reparations for the most vulnerable who are not protected by mitigation and/or adaptation efforts;
  • The topics of water and agriculture will also be a central focus.

Success at COP27 will be highly dependent on goodwill and collaboration between all parties, but the current global geopolitical context means positive, meaningful outcomes may be challenging to achieve.

Afghanistan and the climate crisis

It is beyond the capacity of countries like Afghanistan to cope with the impacts of climate change on their own, yet the long-term challenges the climate crisis poses for Afghan communities are life-threatening. The international community must not forget countries like Afghanistan on the frontlines of this crisis. Urgent financing must be mobilised to help countries least capable of adapting to global warming.

- Guru Naik Charan, Afghanistan Resilience Consortium Manager and Deputy Director at Afghanaid

Though the impact of the climate crisis is experienced globally, it disproportionately affects Afghanistan. Afghanistan emits 0.2 metric tons of CO2 emissions per capita, per year, ranking joint 3rd lowest in the world. Yet, Afghanistan ranks as the 15th most vulnerable country to climate change.

COP27 is taking place in a highly climate vulnerable country and continent. Afghanistan is also one of the countries experiencing the climate crisis most aggressively, being hit by increasingly frequent and severe extreme weather and natural disasters, such as flash floods, droughts and avalanches. Years of conflict and repeated disasters, the destruction of arable land, outdated agricultural practices and depleted household savings mean that there are serious consequences when disasters do occur.

Because 80% of the population are reliant on agriculture to survive, and the lack of preparedness for climate emergencies, disasters have a devastating impact on Afghans, increasing already critical levels of food insecurity, forcing people to leave their homes and causing the loss of livelihoods.

This means Afghanistan is one of the countries who will be most tangibly impacted in the short- and long-term by the outcomes of COP27.

How Afghanaid helps communities to adapt

Afghanaid supports communities in Afghanistan with climate adaptation by working with communities to build local capacity to plan, prepare for, and respond to climate emergencies. For example, in the last three years we have established 71 community-based disaster management committees, working alongside them to build flood retention walls, trenches, plant trees, restore biodiversity and relocated vulnerable livestock. We also support communities by providing training and resources on how to undertake more sustainable, efficient, and productive agricultural practices.

Find out more about this work by reading about Chayabak village or watching our film, A Source of Hope:

Please note this documentary was filmed in March 2021.

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