Home » As UNFCCC cancels Regional Climate Weeks, concerns mount 

As UNFCCC cancels Regional Climate Weeks, concerns mount 

by Madaline Dunn

The UNFCCC, the UN’s climate change body and organiser of the global COP climate change summits, has announced that this year’s Regional Climate Weeks are cancelled until further notice, citing a lack of funding. 

The Regional Climate Weeks serve as an opportunity to platform regional voices and the world’s most climate-vulnerable. As such, the decision to cancel these meetings has been met with concern across the board. 

A lack of funding 

The UNFCCC’s announcement of the cancellation was communicated through the UN Climate Change Quarterly Report, which stated: “Due to lack of funding, UN Climate Change is unable to deliver the regional climate weeks in 2024 and has put them on pause until further notice.”

This comes following UNFCCC chief Simon Stiell’s call for funding at the recent Copenhagen Climate Ministerial. At the meeting in Denmark, Stiell warned that the organisation faces “severe financial challenges.”

According to the UN climate chief, the UNFCCC is attempting to meet an ever-growing mandate, but carrying out the agreed tasks requires funding support, and the budget is “currently less than half funded.”

“This is me once again ringing that alarm bell. I urge you to respond as soon as possible to ensure you get the support you need and have requested from us,” said Stiell. 

Indeed, the approved budget of the UNFCCC secretariat for the biennium 2024-2025 stands at €74mn, which it notes is “significantly lower” than the budget that the Executive Secretary had proposed, at more than €150mn.

The organisation noted that the share of activities that need to be funded from voluntary and “unpredictable contributions” keeps growing. However, it is also struggling to raise sufficient funds through these contributions.

A key platform to build momentum

While many have shared hopes that the meetings will be reinstated, the UNFCC has not yet provided further updates on what is considered a critical component of climate talks. 

Indeed, in 2023, the regional climate weeks were a crucial platform for driving climate cooperation, having hosted over 900 sessions and gathering 26,000 participants. The regional meetings were divided into four events:

  • Africa Climate Week in Nairobi, Kenya; 
  • MENA Climate Week in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; 
  • Latin America and the Caribbean Climate Week in Panama City, Panama; and 
  • Asia-Pacific Climate Week in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. 

Designed to build momentum towards COP28 in Dubai, UAE, last year, these regional events led to key decisions being made. At Africa Climate Week, this included the adoption of the Nairobi Declaration.

Further, the commitments and announcements at the Africa Climate Summit equated to a combined investment of nearly USD 26 billion.

Elsewhere, at MENA Climate Week, the Greenhouse Gas Crediting and Offsetting Mechanism (GCOM) was launched, as well as the Empowering Africa Initiative, among others. 

Cancellation a blow to most climate-affected communities 

This announcement comes against the backdrop of an intensifying climate crisis that continues to break records.

However, the world’s most vulnerable are already battling against soaring temperatures, extreme weather events, and increasing water and food insecurity, being disproportionately affected by the crisis. 

By cancelling these events, experts have warned that this latest announcement risks stifling dialogue and effectively silencing those on the frontlines, many of whom are unable to attend the larger annual climate change conferences.

In response to the announcement, Dulce Marrumbe, Head of Partnerships and Advocacy at WaterAid’s Regional Office for Southern Africa, said the organisation was “disappointed” to hear the UNFCCC’s decision. 

“These provide a vital platform for those already experiencing the impacts of climate change – including women and girls, people experiencing marginalisation and indigenous communities – to share their experiences, expertise and unique perspectives.”

“If the world’s most vulnerable are not at the table, then UN climate talks are no longer fit for purpose,” added Marrumbe.

By Madaline Dunn, Lead Journalist, ESG Mena

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