What is COP28, and why is it important?

COP28 (the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference) is the 28th annual United Nations Climate Change Conference, and will take place from 30 November to 12 December 2023 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). 

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. 

Whilst last year’s COP27 managed to renew support for some climate change issues, such as increased protection of rainforests, advancement on more ambitious initiatives such as the creation of a loss and damage fund and a global early warning system, more is required this year to ensure the success of these agreements. 

What does COP28 hope to achieve?

This year, the conference will focus on delivering on the pillars of the Paris Agreement, through discussions on:

  • Increasing the speed of global energy transition and cutting emissions;

  • Transforming climate finance, by delivering on previous agreements such as the Loss and Damage fund;

  • Putting nature, people, lives, and livelihoods at the heart of climate action; and

  • Improving inclusivity: ensuring as many actors are involved in drafting and setting international climate exchange frameworks as possible, and centering the voices of those most affected by climate change.

Success at COP28 will be highly dependent on collaboration between states, corporations and global organisations. However, with multiple international crises unfolding at once, and international consensus on climate change far from uniform, it remains to be seen how effective any outcomes may be. 

Afghanistan and the climate crisis

Though the climate crisis is experienced across the world, its impact is disproportionately felt in Afghanistan and its people are among the least equipped to deal with such challenges - currently, Afghanistan ranks as the eighth most vulnerable country to the effects of climate change. Despite this vulnerability, for the third year running Afghanistan will have no official representation at the conference as the Taliban authorities are not a recognised government. Only a few Afghan individuals with a variety of relevant backgrounds will attend.

Renewed interest on the impact of climate change on nature, people, lives, and livelihoods is extremely necessary when considering the vast, detrimental impact the crisis is already having on Afghan lives and livelihoods. Recurrent droughts, rising temperatures, flash floods, and extreme weather have all exacerbated food insecurity, water scarcity and displacement across Afghanistan, and severely diminished rural families’ ability to earn an income. 

With a focus on delivering holistic outcomes on nature, food and agriculture, health, water, and relief and recovery, this years’ COP will highlight the need for climate adaptation, ecosystem preservation and the transformation of agricultural and food systems to ensure food and livelihood security, particularly in countries economically dependent on agriculture, such as Afghanistan. 

The international community must take urgent action to bolster Afghan communities’ ability to build sustainable livelihoods, adapt to climate change, and mitigate the devastating impacts the climate crisis is having across the country. Whilst Afghanistan’s de facto authorities remain uninvited to COP28 and other international conferences, it is vital that other Afghan voices are represented at COP28, so that the difficulties communities are facing in Afghanistan are not overlooked. Without this recognition and support, the Afghan people will face increasing challenges, and remain in a cycle of chronic poverty and instability.

- Guru Naik, Deputy Director, Afghanistan Resilience Consortium

If positive steps are taken at COP28 to reduce emissions, revitalise the environment, protect biodiversity and lessen the impact of climate change, it will be in countries like Afghanistan where the positive impact is most great.

How Afghanaid helps communities affected by climate change

Our teams across rural Afghanistan implement a multi-layered approach to supporting communities affected by climate change. This includes: 

  • Assisting villages and remote areas to build local capacity to anticipate and plan for climate emergencies, as well as giving them the tools and training to respond when they do occur. Through the Afghanistan Resilience Consortium, we have established 245 disaster management committees.

  • Mitigating the risks of floods through building flood protection walls, hillside trenches, reservoirs and irrigation systems, as well as planting trees and shrubs to revitalise degraded soil and increase biodiversity.

  • Supporting agricultural workers to update their farming techniques in response to a changing climate, providing them with improved, drought-resistant seeds and protective equipment like polytunnels. Where necessary, we also ensure rural families have an additional income stream away from agriculture, boosting their resilience when climatic shocks occur.

  • Providing emergency assistance to those displaced or made vulnerable due to climate change induced disasters, and helping them rebuild their lives.

Sustained action at conferences like COP28 is essential to facilitating systemic change in the global fight against climate change. But by donating to assist Afghans on the frontlines of this crisis, your support can be just as life-changing. Please give what you can today:

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