The vital voice of civil society

Nick Nuttall, UNFCCC

As COP 20 opens in Lima, governments have a great opportunity to put the world firmly on a path to low carbon and high resilience. Lima takes us one step closer to a new, universal global climate change agreement in 2015 that catalyses action to peak global greenhouse gas emissions this decade, accelerate a deep, de-carbonisation of the global economy and deliver a long-term vision of climate neutrality this century. These are the pathways to achieve the goal to limit a global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius.

The role of civil society is crucial in helping achieve these goals. In the context of the UN Climate Change Convention, the richness and diversity of civil society injects creative ideas and insights into the negotiations, speaks for the sometimes forgotten voices of the most vulnerable, bears witness to what governments say and do and reminds us all of our responsibility to the poor, vulnerable and future generations.

As we approach Paris 2015, considerable climate action momentum is building inside and outside the UN process with civil society playing its valuable role. Civil society played a pivotal role in the historic climate action announced at September’s Climate Summit in New York. Civil society is partnering with governments in key areas with great potential to curb emissions, from agriculture to forests, cities and finance. And civil society vocally advocates for speeding up the climate neutral transition, including calls for divestment, opposition of carbon-intense projects and support for science-based governance. This is hugely encouraging for the UN process and the wider dialogue on how to arrive at a stable, secure future.

We look forward to many game-changing civil society inputs in Lima. As the eyes and ears of the world, civil society empowers their constituents to encourage more action from governments and helps individuals take climate action themselves. This is a crucial role and one that we hope civil society continues to play as governments work in Lima towards Paris and a better future for all.

For all these reasons and more, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is proud to support Outreach 2014 and thanks the governments of Norway and Switzerland for their support.