Picture of Ashik Igbal at the World Climate Conference

Action for Climate Empowerment - english

Education and active engagement at the COP28 world climate conference

The world climate conference COP28 took place in Dubai in the first two weeks of December. Shortly afterwards, I - Karo Snethlage - had the opportunity to have a very interesting conversation with the climate activist Ashik Iqbal, who has been fighting the climate crisis with Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) for two and a half years. He attended the climate conference. Therefore, I was able to find out what was happening there with ACE. As a scientist and climate activist from Bangladesh, he gave me exciting insights and perspectives from a country severely affected by the climate crisis and possible options of action at the COP and beyond. 

Foto von einem Side Event auf der COP28

Side Event COP28 

Foto: Ashik Iqbal
Foto von Mitgliedern von ACE

ACE Members

Foto: Ashik Iqbal

What exactly is the World Climate Conference and ACE?

Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) is a term introduced by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change with the aim of encouraging people to take action in the climate crisis. This is based on Six ACE elements: climate education and raising public awareness of climate change, training, public participation, public access to information, and international cooperation on these issues. The aim is to achieve the contents of Article 6 of the UNFCCC (greenhouse gas reduction) and Article 12 of the Paris Climate Agreement (1.5°- target) (see UNFCCC 2023).

At the COP27 in Egypt, the participants agreed on a 4-year action plan. This in turn serves as part of the "Glasgow work programs on ACE" adopted at COP26 in Scotland. The action plan focuses on "immediate action through short-term, clear and time-bound activities" incorporating the six ACE elements. The aim is to get people and especially young people, to take action on the climate crisis.

Conference of Parties (COP)

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) takes place annually since 1995. Representatives of all countries from politics, business, and civil society meet there to negotiate how to deal with the climate and biodiversity crisis. The results of the extensive negotiations are set out in texts, which must be used as a basis for the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) of the individual governments. It is also a place for exchange and international networking for future cooperation. Between the COPs, the climate negotiations take place in Bonn (so-called "Subsidiary Bodies", SBs). In Bonn, the status of the COP resolutions and compliance with and implementation of the commitments are reviewed.

Interview with a member of the ACE working group YOUNGO

I had the chance to ask Ashik Iqbal what happened with ACE at this year's World Climate Conference. But first I wanted to find out a bit more about him:

Karo: Hello Ashik! Please introduce yourself briefly and tell us why you are involved with ACE as a climate activist.

Ashik: "Hello and thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my experiences from the COP. I am Ashik Iqbal from Bangladesh, working as a Research Associate at the Institute of Water and Flood Management (IWFM), Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET). Since April 2021, I am an active member of the ACE working group YOUNGO, which is the youth representation of the UNFCCC. I am involved in ACE because I want to share the technical knowledge I have generated as a scientist in the field of water and flooding with people who need it in the climate crisis. ACE and its six elements align with all my interests."

Karo: What happened at the ACE negotiations at COP28?

Ashik: "During the negotiations over the last few years, many points were written down in the 4-year action plan and in the Glasgow work Program on ACE. What remained unresolved was the financing of these commitments, which was the main topic of the negotiations at COP28. The only strange thing is that many of the parties' demands - above all education - are very popular, but when it comes to financing these projects, no one wants to commit. No commitments were made at this COP. The G77 countries were even very willing to compromise, but the results of negotiations were always blocked by some industrialized countries. Accordingly, no agreement was reached between the parties and therefore no final text was produced for ACE. The negotiations came to a halt after the first week and were postponed to the climate negotiations in Bonn in summer 2024 (so-called "Subsidiary Bodies", SBs). That was very disappointing."

K: Despite the short and inconclusive negotiations, what do you take away from them?

A: "Although the negotiations ended without a result, I am taking some positive things away from them. There was much more room for side events, which are very fruitful for networking and future collaboration. There were even five ACE side events on one day. The second week of the COP in particular is usually dominated by negotiations, which limits participation in side events and networking opportunities. However, we had time for this and the youth at ACE were also able to participate very actively in the side events and help shape and organize them. Cooperation with the youth in general and in the upcoming negotiations is essential to shape a sustainable future in the climate crisis!"

K: How did you perceive the topic of education and youth at COP28 and how present was ACE?

A: "There was an extra theme day at the COP on "Youth, Children, Education and Skills". ACE organized most of the side events on this day, as the content mainly fits in with the ACE areas. ACE also organized events at the COY youth conference. The focus of the theme day was on various educational projects on climate change and strategies to spread education to enrich people around the world. In general, young people are very present in ACE - the ACE YOUNGO working group has around 500 young people as active members."

K: What were your favourite ACE events at COP28?

A: "As the negotiations didn't come to a decision, I didn't have a favourite event. What I did like very much, however, was the ACE Networking Breakfast, where a wide variety of people came together and there was a lot of intensive exchange! That was very valuable for future collaboration. I also really enjoyed the event "Strategies on engagement and empowering youth in ACE", which took place directly after the unsuccessful negotiations and which I moderated. Very fruitful discussions took place with the energy that was still pent up and it showed once again how important young people are in shaping a better future."

K: What will happen at ACE after COP28 and what are your plans for it?

A: "The inconclusive negotiations have shown that more action is now needed to ensure that the issue of financing does not fall by the wayside. To this end, a kind of "market place" is to be set up where ACE members can network with investors in order to generate funding for projects. I also think it's now time for young people to speak up and draw attention to the issue of financing. The advantage of us young members of ACE is that we are independent of organizations and do not have to fear that our actions will have consequences for our work. That's why we, but also all ACE members, must now speak up and remind people every day from now until the Bonn climate negotiations in the summer that the issue is on the agenda. We can't wait until COP29 for this!"

K: And finally, as a climate activist from the Global South, how did you perceive the COP28 and what do you think of the main outcomes?

A: "The fact that the Loss and Damage Fund has now been operationalized after a long period of negotiations is very important for the Global South and climate vulnerable countries like Bangladesh. Because we are the countries that suffer from the damage and losses. What we need above all is money to pay for them. However, the mechanism around the Loss and Damage Fund is not yet developed and it alone is not enough. We are suffering from the actions of the global North and we need the money. Hopefully this will be decided in the upcoming negotiations."

K: Thank you very much for this interesting interview!

Looking back and forward

In addition to the conversation with Ashik, I was able to follow the COP28 from Bonn for two weeks. It was very exciting and I learned a lot about working in and with international climate alliances.

At a side event organized by the German UNESCO Commission and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Bertha Argueta commented on the implementation and challenges of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in Germany from the perspective of civil society on behalf of Germanwatch and the Bündnis ZukunftsBildung

More information about this event: 

Assessment of the COP results:

The ACE negotiations were postponed to the side negotiations in Bonn in summer 2024. We can only hope that the voices of young people will be heard more and more over the coming months! Moreover, it is exciting to see whether and how the space that created for network meetings and intensive side events will bring further progress in getting people to take climate action. In the conversation with Ashik, I sensed that youth empowerment across the planet plays a very important role. Thus, it gives me hope that it will trigger changes that will last for generations to come. However, the ACE's 4-year action plan demands that immediate measures are necessary. Given the urgency of the climate crisis, we cannot wait! Let's get active!

Here you can listen to other voices from the global South on the COP28 results and options for taking action!

More voices from the global South on the COP2

The interview with Ashik Iqbal was conducted in English, but has also been translated into German.

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Foto von Ashik Aqbal auf der Weltklimakonferenz

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